”This was not an ideal decision,” the Mayor said, “and it certainly does not solve all our budget issues.”
In deciding between having a job or getting a raise, it doesn’t take the wisdom of Solomon to make the right choice. In these severe economic times, a teacher would have to be dense to hold out for the raise over the job.
The Mayor scrapped his plan to fire 4,400 teachers. Under the protocol at the Department of Education, the newest, youngest and, in some cases, the brightest teachers would be first to get the axe. The doctrine is: last hired, first fired.
At the Citizens Budget Commission, New York’s fiscal watchdog, Charles Brecher told me: “If the choice is between jobs and pay increases, the right choice is jobs.”
Michael Mulgrew of the teachers union says the Mayor doesn’t have the power to unilaterally decide on the teachers’ contract nor freeze wages. But the Mayor may not need the permission of either the teachers’ union or the principal and administrators union to take these actions.
I spoke to Diane Ravitch, a major authority on education. She said of the Mayor: “He’s doing crisis management and that’s a good thing for the teachers.”
But there are some major expenditures at the Department of Education that disturb her very much. At last count, she said, there were 21 Department of Education administrators making more than $180,000 and 74 who make $150,000 or more.
“That’s an area that might require cutting and the no-bid contracts put out by the department are another place where major money savings might be made.”
It appears that both sides in this latest chapter in New York’s educational crisis could stand a refresher course in arithmetic. But the Mayor has taken a step in the right direction.