New York City schools can’t use parent donations to pay extra aides, the administration has ruled in response to a teachers’ union complaint. PTA-funded aides, hired by principals, typically make $12 to $15 an hour compared to $23 an hour for aides hired by the school district. But the district can’t afford the more expensive aides, even as it’s increasing class sizes.
“The reason the teaching assistants are here is because they’ve been stuffing so many kids in these classes,” said 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. “Nobody wants to break any rules, but 28 is just too many kids for one teacher.”
. . . Supplemental fund-raising from parent groups has long raised questions of fairness. While the ability to provide extras — teaching assistants, books, computers and art supplies, enrichment programs — has helped keep middle-class families in urban public schools, it also can make it more difficult for schools in poor neighborhoods to compete.
But the teachers’ union didn’t protest based on equity. A union official complained that some of the aides didn’t go through the city’s screening process and might not be qualified.