New York, NY – Hundreds of CSA union leaders, rank and file members, elected officials and other supporters showed up on a gray Wednesday, October 30, at Park Place and Broadway to rally for a contract for the city’s public schools.
The CSA [Council of School Supervisors and Administrators] represents 6,000 principals, assistant principals and education administrators throughout the city’s 1,800 NYC public schools and central offices, as well as many early childhood education specialists, too.
There are several issues that are front and center in the union’s demands for a fair contract. They have been without a contract since April. One is what they call “Safe Schools.” The union says that due to underfunding, there is a deficit of supervisors in the system, which leads to an inability to adequately protect school kids. Another is “Discretion and Management.” The city of New York, they say, has eroded principal discretion and burdened members with more and more bureaucratic demands. Paid parental leave is also at the forefront of issues. While the members are charged with the education and safe-keeping of others’ children, they insist they are not given the benefits that would enable them to bond with their own kids.
Kuvana Jones, a principal at the Lewis and Clark School, said, “We are looking at a matter of public concern by making sure our principals have their contract. We [have to have] safe conditions for students, more supervision.”
Roderick Balton, another principal, said, “I know how difficult it is to run a school. We need to be supported. That’s why I’m here.”
Jeff Engel, an assistant principal and CSA board member, said “We are disappointed…we came back in September without a collective bargaining agreement, despite the best efforts of CSA.” On paid parental leave, he said, “We take care of 1.1 million children. It’s only fair we have paid parental leave when we take care of everyone else’s children.”
CSA Executive Vice President Henry Rubio addressed the crowd at the rally saying, “We are not afraid of anyone who gets in the way of our children’s [safety]. He led the crowd in chants of “Who implements 3K? Who implements 4K? And “Who improves literacy?”
Dr. Reggie Landeau, principal and president of the Black Caucus, said it is “Important to stand unified,” and “We’re here to help the children.” He added, “Plans, surveys, and initiatives keep getting in the way of our hard work,” and that “We want to partner with the Mayor and the Chancellor.”
Another principal, speaking from the stage, spoke of his difficulty with household bills and quoted the schools chancellor who said, “Our working conditions are the children’s learning conditions.”
Vinny Alvarez, head of the New York City Central Labor Council, said, “This town comes together when we know our brothers and sisters are in need.” He also spoke about the importance of paid parental leave and assured CSA members hundreds of other unions “have your back.”
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, meanwhile, called CSA “The greatest champions of New York City bar none.”
“You empower all of us…you deserve a contract…and more resources,” she said.
City Council members also took the stage en masse, with Mark Treyger saying that the CSA’s work has been excellent, while “what has not been excellent is the pay and respect.”
City Comptroller Scott Stringer also spoke out, saying that he was speaking as a parent.
“The first person [my children see when they go to school] is the principal,” he said. “You take care of the most important [people] in our lives.”
Of the demands, NYC’s comptroller said, “We can afford this. Let’s not invest in bureaucracy — let’s invest in the people who invest in our children.”