ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Local teachers are fighting back against layoffs, and drawing attention to the possible budget this year for the Rochester City School District.
A meeting was held Friday in direct relation to the possible budget gap, how the RCSD got here, and what solutions might be available. A group of teachers, called ‘RORE’ (Rochester Organization of Rank and File Educators) put a lot of the blame on charter school funding.
They are calling for a strike on March 6 — but not everyone is on board. Specifically the Teachers Union President Adam Urbanski.
Urbanski said in a statement, “Teachers have the right to express their views, but for five or six teachers to call for a strike is presumptuous and premature. Rochester teachers have already duly elected officers and the idea of a strike on March 6 is news to us.”
Regardless, teacher and RORE member Michelle Sapere said she and others are ready to take action.
“This year’s been rough. Post-winter break, morale has been down,” said Sapere.
Even though Superintendent Terry Dade walked into the fiscal mess, Sapere said that doesn’t mean he’s not at fault.
“When you ‘punch down’, and you go directly towards our kids and our teachers,and our families and communities, I blame you for that,” said Sapere.
She said because the state owes the district millions, and since the city has not upped their financial contributions to the district since 2004, there is a lot to be done. She said $80 million has been funneled into charter schools over the years.
“I always say that charter schools are the poor stealing from the poor to benefit the rich,” said Sapere.
As a solution, Sapere said she wants the expansion of charter schools to cease.
“Let’s be honest. Where are the charter schools in the suburbs? Where’s the lack of money in the suburbs? Let’s call this what it is — systemic racism,” said Sapere.
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Another teacher, Mike Johnson said the situation is heartbreaking.
“Honestly, it’s heartbreaking. It’s just a recipe for disaster, it’s a recipe for chaos, it’s disheartening,” said Johnson.
He said even though he’s not against charter schools, they’re something that should be re-evaluated, or else the RCSD will go bankrupt.
“We just need to put a limit on how much we are privatizing schools,” said Johnson.
He’s asking parents to get involved today, saying that’s the only way things are going to change.