In the city's ongoing effort to make all public schools equally bad, officials have ordered parent-paid teaching aides out of classrooms.
The practice had gone on for years, especially in Manhattan's top schools, where parents could raise big bucks to hire the assistants, who would help union teachers with all things from reading and writing to conflict resolution and shoe-tying, but the Bloomberg administration, pressured by the teachers' union has demanded an end, the New York Times reported.
After the union complained, principals were told that any aides their schools had would have to be official Department of Education employees. But DOE employees would nearly double the pay of the parent-hired assistants, and thus are for the most part unaffordable. Several schools have told current employees that they will not have jobs in the fall, according to the Times.
Eighteen schools reported having 195 parent-funded employees, which included classroom aides, lunch monitors, art instructors and after-school workers, the Times reported.
“The reason the teaching assistants are here is because they’ve been stuffing so many kids in these classes,” Patrick J. Sullivan, co-president of the Parent-Teacher Association at the Lower Lab School (P.S. 77), where parents spend $250,000 a year on the teaching assistants, told the Times. “Nobody wants to break any rules, but 28 is just too many kids for one teacher."
The paper points out that fundraising by parent groups has long raised questions of fairness; It has helped keep middle-class families in urban public schools, but it also can make it more difficult for schools in poor neighborhoods to compete.
Education officials and union leaders also say the practice of privately hiring aides raised security concerns.