Just months before City Council members and Mayor de Blasio stand for re-election, city teachers have been granted a historic boost in reimbursements for classroom supplies. This year, teachers will be allowed to seek $250 in reimbursement for out of pocket expenses on supplies such as markers, scissors and reward stickers. Last year the maximum amount was only $103. The one-time $250 payment, which will need to be renegotiated annually, incudes school nurses, as well as physical and occupational therapists. While most view the allocation in a positive light, the timing for the grant is questioned. This wasn’t the only perk city educators received from city hall. Just recently, de Blasio’s administration announced it would give public school workers 50,000 parking placards.
The teachers union lobbied for the increase, which was then proposed by the City Council and approved by the Mayor. The teachers union is a powerful past and present supporter of de Blasio. As reported by the NY Post, City Hall critic Evan Siegfried called this the largest payment in the 30-year history of the Teacher’s Choice program and said it smells like a de Blasio gift to the union.
“This is a transactional mayor. He will do favors for those who do favors for him, be it a big donor or a union endorsement he needs,” said Siegfried. “Just like when corrupt donors help his campaign, the UFT [United Federation of Teachers] expects to be repaid in the mayor’s pay-to-play style,” Siegfried added. “De Blasio is trying to shore up as many allies as he can because the only results he’s gotten as mayor is a vagrant on every ¬corner.”
UFT President Michael Mulgrew retorted, “Are these critics prepared to start a fund to pay for the classroom supplies that thousands of kids rely on?” The UFT says that on average teachers spend $500 out of their own pockets on materials “from telescopes to butterflies” to help engross students. “This is something that we have been fighting for several years,” said City Council Education Committee Chairman Daniel Dromm. He called the allegations “ridiculous.”
By: Hadassa Kalatizadeh