Doomsday scenario for teacher layoffs released

February 28, 2011 3:17:29 PM PST
The Department of Education and Mayor Michael Bloomberg are painting a doomsday picture for teachers if the state does not allocate more money for schools and seniority rules are not changed.

Tom Rochowicz, a history teacher, has only worked at his school since last September.

In the union rule of last in-first out, he faces a good chance at being laid-off.

"I want to teach for several more years. I want to get into school leadership. However, it's hard to plan to do those things if I'm uncertain I'm going to have a job each year," he said. "And seeing how new I am to the DOE it's hard to plan a career around that."

The mayor's pushing ahead on his layoff plan of almost five thousand teachers

  • 15 percent of all art music and gym teachers would go.

  • The cut includes 6 percent of English teachers

  • And three percent of all math teachers citywide.

    "We've got to give teachers who are going to get laid off or might get laid off courtesy of telling them who they are and if they have to make other plans. Shame on us if we find the money, and then they wont' be available," Mayor Bloomberg said.

    The mayor says he could change things if Albany comes up with more money or agrees to change the rules on who's laid off first.

    A lot of teachers think the mayor's bluffing.

    "If the mayor is trying to cause fear among parents, then that is irresponsible and shame on him and knock it off," UFT President Michael Mulgrew said.

    The teachers union claims there is plenty of money and the mayor's pushing hard just so he can change the rule of last in-first out.

    "I personally believe this is fear-mongering on the mayor's behalf so I believe in the power of the union. I think we're ultimately going to be protected," teacher Amy Piller said.

    Albany may give Bloomberg some of what he's demanding, but he faces a tough fight in the assembly.

    "There are many people who believe mayoral control of the education system has gotten out of control and needs be reigned in, so the mayor will confront a difficult climate when asking for additional authority in the area of education," Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries said.

    The State Senate is prepared to vote on a bill that would allow the city to lay off teachers based on factors like performance and disciplinary records, rather than seniority.

    Officials say 4,675 jobs are on the chopping block, or about 6 percent of active teachers.

    Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget would cut aid to city schools by $1.4 billion for the next fiscal year. And if that happens, Bloomberg says he has no choice but to lay off thousands of teachers.