Bloomberg proposes teacher tenure change

September 27, 2010 2:41:21 PM PDT
It could be a major change for New York school children and their teachers.

Mayor Bloomberg wants to eliminate automatic tenure for teachers.

The mayor wants to raise the bar for all teachers and principals, But will the teachers union go along with the idea.

Alex Manuele is a parent who says the system needs reform. That no one's job should come with a lifetime guarantee.

"They should be hired if they are needed and laid off if they're not," he said. "The notion that the public sector should be some separate labor force is just wrong." On average, roughly 95-percent of eligible teachers get tenure.

A teacher is ordinarily granted tenure after three years in the classroom, but it may be denied by the school's principal and layoffs are based on seniority.

Under the mayor's plan, tenure would be performance-based using a four-tier ratings system where tenure would be granted only to those rated "effective" or "highly-effective."

The mayor insists seniority-based layoffs must end. Parents, he said, have a right to expect better.

"Their children are in our future and I work for them and I make this promise to them and to their parents. We will work just as hard as you do to provide a better future for their children," he said.

But union leaders say without seniority-based layoffs, administrators will simply lay-off the highest paid teachers.

"In terms of layoffs, for the mayor to come out at this point to say we're going to be doing layoffs, I think the conversation should be how do we not do layoffs," Michael Mulgrew, UFT President, said.

Bloomberg said the city will use a $36 million federal grant to enlist highly skilled teachers to work in low-performing schools and mentor fellow instructors.

"New York City is ... laying the foundation to ensure that every child who graduates high school is ready to start college or a career," Bloomberg said.

The Mayor also announced the City University of New York and IBM will open a unique school that merges high school with two years of college, allowing students to earn an associate's degree.

Those students will be "first in line for a job at IBM," Bloomberg said in his announcement.

The partnership with IBM for a high school-college hybrid will build on work that the company is already doing in community colleges, said Stan Litow, vice president of corporate affairs for IBM.

"We have every confidence that large numbers of those kids would be able to assume entry-level jobs at IBM and other IT companies," Litow said.

Bloomberg said the city will work with the state to end so-called "seat time," which requires all students to spend certain number of hours in their seats on every subject even if they have already mastered the subject. It will also endeavor to change a state law that requires schools to buy printed textbooks rather than digital content.

"That may be good for the business textbook industry but it's really a bad deal for our students in this day and age," Bloomberg said.