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Bad Teachers Will Flunk Tenure, Bloomberg Says

More Controversial is Layoffs-Without-Seniority Plan

By Tim Minton and Victoria Cavaliere
|  Tuesday, Sep 28, 2010  |  Updated 7:46 AM EDT
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<a title=Mayor Bloomberg and New York City School's Chancellor Joel Klein have had enough when it comes to rubber stamping teachers who are up for tenure." />

Mayor Bloomberg and New York City School's Chancellor Joel Klein have had enough when it comes to rubber stamping teachers who are up for tenure.

Mayor Bloomberg says those who can't teach...won't --anymore. 

New York City has always had the right to reject tenure, basically a lifetime job guarantee, for any reason or no reason, but now the mayor wants to crack down on what he sees as a far too liberal system of granting tenure, giving mediocre or poor teachers job security.

Speaking on the Today show this morning, Mayor Bloomberg said "We have too much blame (for poor performance). The issue is getting something done. This system has to run for the kids, no the people who work in it."

Randi Weingarten, The President of the American Federation of Teachers, told the Today show she backs Mayor Bloomberg's call to tighten tenure standards.

"If teachers can't be helped, we have to do something to weed them out of the system," she said.  She also stressed that most teachers in New York and across the country are excellent and dedicated to their jobs.  "We don't have an epidemic of bad teachers in this country," she said.

Teachers are generally reviewed for tenure after three years on the job. The new standard breaks teachers into four categories, based on evaluations: highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective. Those rated in the bottom two groups will be denied or delayed tenure. 

"It's supposed to be a thoughtful process and it's supposed to be based on a teacher's job performance, said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.  "It's not supposed to be automatic, and if they were doing it automatically then they were being irresponsible."

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein counters that new data technology makes the system workable and fair. "I wished we had done it earlier too, but I'm thrilled we're doing it.," said the chancellor. 

"We have 80 thousand teachers in the New York City public school system, the best collection anyone has put together," the mayor told NBC.  But, he says "some need remedial help," while some others aren't up to muster and should "find different carreers."

Through the 2005-2006 school year, more than 99 percent of all teachers up for tenure, got it. Intermediate changes in the last three years have already reduced the approval number to 89 percent.

Another Bloomberg announcement will earn him a fight in Albany. Contemplating layoffs as the City cuts spending, the mayor wants the ability to choose who goes, irrespective of a seniority list that currently requires that more veteran teachers be spared. "So the newest teachers would be the first ones to go, even if they happen to be the best teachers. That makes no sense," said Bloomberg.

Well, it makes excellent sense to the teachers' union. "When we didn't have [seniority], inevitably when layoffs were done, they were done by cronyism, by race, by age and gender," responded UFT President Mulgrew.

Any change in layoff rules would have to be approved by legislators in Albany, where the teachers union has many friends and the mayor, who famously lost on a plan for congestion pricing tolls, owns a spotty record of success.

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