SAN FRANCISCO—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten urged local officials here today to put children first as they try to close a projected $113 million shortfall in the budget for the city’s public schools over the next two years.
School administrators have announced plans to lay off 811 teachers at the end of the current school year, a move Weingarten said would be “devastating” to San Francisco’s children.
“School officials must work with teachers and staff to ensure that any cuts are kept as far away from the classroom as possible,” Weingarten said. “The approach announced by school officials will disrupt the education of thousands of students and dramatically increase class sizes at every public school.”
While here, Weingarten visited El Dorado Elementary School, one of the schools hit hardest by the budget crisis. Two-thirds of El Dorado’s teachers have received layoff notices.
“If the layoffs go through, this school will be devastated and the amazing work that I witnessed this morning—the day before one of the California tests—will stop. Worse, the United Educators of San Francisco has put enough creative ideas on the table to avert this immediate crisis, but the superintendent would rather stonewall than immunize kids from this devastation,” Weingarten said.
After the El Dorado visit, Weingarten met with Mayor Gavin Newsom. Later, she planned to speak at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting, and then meet with parents and community leaders.
Weingarten was in San Francisco as part of the AFT’s Fight for America’s Future tour. She is visiting cities around the country to draw attention to the problems that state and local governments and school districts are facing in dealing with the fiscal crisis. She is calling for federal legislation to help avoid massive layoffs of teachers. More information on the tour is available at www.aft.org/fight4america/.