Public Advocate Bill de Blasio launches a website Wednesday that allows parents to send messages directly to the Education Department - and even record testimonials about teachers who have changed their children's lives.
De Blasio said he thought the layoffs "would set back education in the city for years."
"Parents have a say here," he argued. "They get to make a decision through their activism. The more involved they get, the more impact they can have."
Some said they would use the website to stay informed and send the mayor a message. "These layoffs will crumble the system," said Celia Green, who has two special needs children at Public School 77 in Park Slope and two at PS 369 in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. "Parents are already fighting for kindergarten seats. Class sizes will go up. It leaves room for more kids who may need more attention to be left behind."
Education Department officials acknowledged that the layoffs plus the loss of another 2,000 retiring teachers will bump up class size by an average of two children per class.
But Bloomberg reiterated Tuesday that layoffs were necessary because of less money coming in from the state and rising internal costs.
"We don't have the money," he said. "We have to reduce expenses."
De Blasio, though, said he didn't think the layoffs were necessary to balance the budget. "With a $22 billion budget," he said, "there are other places to cut besides teachers - technology, consultant contracts - rather than getting rid of the most essential piece in education."
Again, I will say - if Bloomberg needs to reduce expenses, reduce the technology expenditures.
To spend $550 million on technology upgrades in the same year that he's laying off teachers to save $377 million is unconscionable.
Go to the Save Our Teachers website and leave the mayor and the DOE braintrust your thoughts.