Bloomberg Heats Up War With Teachers

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    Mayor Bloomberg took another aim at teacher seniority rules Sunday, pushing for the right to layoff teachers by other yardsticks like merit.

    The mayor said laying off teachers by the standard last in first out would send the wrong message to students -- that merit doesn't matter.

    "Albany rules say when it comes to teaching, talent doesn't matter, results don't matter," said Bloomberg, speaking at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn. "I say enough with Albany rules."

    He warned that based on the size of budget cuts considered by Governor Cuomo, the city may have to lay off nearly every teacher hired in the last five year, calling them "the ones who are the very future of our school system."

    New York City schools risk losing as many as 21,000 teachers if the state reduces education aid by $1 billion, Bloomberg has warned.

    The teacher's union president fired back Sunday.

    "The mayor's propaganda campaign isn't fooling anyone," said teachers union president Michael Mulgrew in a statement.  "Everyone knows that laying off teachers sends class size skyrocketing and hurts kids.  The mayor should be working with us to prevent layoffs."

    Secret talks with state lawmakers are underway to allow Bloomberg to layoff so-called "nonteaching teachers" without regard to their seniority, according to the New York Post.   This plan would let the mayor fire upwards of 4,000 nonclassroom teachers, including those previously banished to rubber rooms for alleged disciplinary problems, says Fredric Dicker, the Post's Albany columnist.

    Bloomberg downplayed this plan at a City Hall press conference Monday, saying the numbers involved were relatively small and the idea "does not solve the problem" of potentially losing thousands of talented teachers who aren't tenured. 

    On his weekly radio show Friday, Bloomberg said the layoffs would be a worst case and he said he has yet to receive word of a definite budget. "Scuttlebutt is that the education budget will be cut statewide, and New York City's share of that would be a billion-dollar cut," he said.

    Under the worst-case scenario for the city, about 20-percent of teachers would be cut -- excluding those in special education and English as a second language.