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Students and teachers still fear job losses, other cutbacks

Teachers and students at last week’s massive rally against budget cuts said they were braving the cold out of fear that they could lose their jobs, have their after-school program closed, or miss out on the chance to help decide how the city’s stimulus funds are spent.

Here’s a sampling of what students and teachers from across the city told me last week when I asked them why they had come to the rally:

  • Meredith Jacks, a middle school teacher at PS/MS 126 in Chinatown: “We just want to have a say in how this [stimulus] money gets used. It could do nothing or it could do a lot.”
  • Sharon Stolberg, a retired teacher from Queens who in the 1970s was bumped from school to school because of budget cuts: “I had kids sitting on radiators, 38 kids in a first-grade class. We cannot afford that again.”
  • Josh, a second-year teacher at a Bronx school: “Teachers in their first three years could be laid off. But that’s less likely than cuts to programs that benefit our neediest kids.”
  • Gabriel Saez, a sixth grader at IS 171 in Brooklyn who came with dozens of his classmates: “We are here so that they won’t shut down our after school. We heard that might happen.”
  • Chris, a ninth grader at Manhattan/Hunter Science High School: “We came here because we don’t want anyone to lose their jobs.”
  • Joanie Terrizzi, the librarian at Manhattan’s PS/MS 126: “If there’s no money I’m not a required position.”
  • Hannah Lee, a ninth grader at Manhattan/Hunter Science High School: “The teachers were recommending us to come — the more the merrier. Plus, we can really make the change.”
  • Dara Sullivan, a teacher at PS 877 in Queens: “We want to make sure if there are budget cuts, that they come out of the classroom less.”
    Julissa Morban, a senior at University Heights High School in the Bronx: “We could lose teachers, counselors, social workers, books and materials. … We already get left behind a lot.”
  • Griselda Burgos, a teacher at PS 98 in Manhattan: “We want to fight for our children. They could increase the size of children in the classroom.”
  • Beth Levy, a social worker for the pre-kindergarten program at PS 133 in Queens: “I’m worried that the program might be cut.”
  • Elizabeth Shanken, the UFT chapter leader at Jane Addams High School: “There is enough money in the stimulus package to stop school cuts. There’s now no justifiable reason why there should be such tremendous cuts.”
  • Jessica Jolly, a teacher at Arts and Media Prep in Brooklyn: “The small schools will suffer.”

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