The New Orleans Public School system announced last week that it will be laying off approximately 5,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, secretaries and other school employees by January 31, 2006. This comes at the same time the mayor is asking citizens to return in what is billed as a "Bring Back New Orleans" campaign.
“This is a sad day at the end of a tragic three months for the teachers, paraprofessionals, secretaries, and other employees of New Orleans Public Schools and for the city of New Orleans which could lose more than 20,000 citizens at the same time when the Mayor is asking citizens to return,” said United Teachers of New Orleans (UTNO) President Brenda Mitchell.
The school system announced that January 31, 2006 is the last day of employment for employees who have been on disaster leave and who have not been reactivated by that date. Since many of the employees have moved several times since the devastation caused by Katrina, the school system is asking employees to call a toll free hotline at 877-771-5800, or by filling out a form available at www.nops.k12.la.us .
But there is more to the story. The Orleans school system had close to 60,000 students before Katrina hit. School officials estimate that only about 7,000 are coming back for the current school year. But there is a major charter school movement in the city that is certain to virtually wipe out the public schools and will certainly minimize the voice of the union. In fact, the education steering committee of "Bring Back New Orleans" doesn’t include one teacher.
So it is more important than ever that we show our solidarity with our New Orleans brothers and sisters who could lose their right to return when schools reopen.
During this season of giving, we urge you to donate to the UFT’s Katrina Relief Fund. Print the flyer and return the coupon with a $10 donation and get the handsome Katrina Relief Fund pin and wear it proudly. In fact, organize a Katrina Relief Fundraiser at your school so everyone can where their pins at the same time.
The AFT has put together a Hurricane Katrina website that chronicles stories, and information about the aftermath of the storm. If you have a minute, watch this video of UTNO president Brenda Mitchell as she visits a badly damaged school in New Orleans. (Real Player Broadband | Real Player Modem | WM Broadband | WM Modem)
The UFT in conjunction with AFT locals across the country is helping raise money for AFT members impacted by the storm. Take some time to read some of the personal stories from members affected by Hurricane Katrina.