Bloomberg says state aid education cuts will cost 2,500 teachers
Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned Albany's leaders Monday that the city would lose 2,500 teachers by 2014 if the state cuts $450 million in aid over the teacher evaluation flap.
In a passionate speech to pols in Albany, Bloomberg urged the state Education Department to reconsider denying funding because the city couldn't come to a deal on teacher evaluations.
About 700 teachers would be lost due to attrition this year, and another 1,800 educators next year without the extra cash in the city budget, the mayor said.
"For every four teachers we lose during the balance of this school year, principals will only be able to hire only one replacement," he said to the Assembly's Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee.
The city and the United Federation of Teachers failed to come to an agreement nearly two weeks ago on teacher evaluations, missing a state deadline. The union and city have been at odds over the specifics of the evaluations, which could be used to remove poor performing instructors.
Because of the failed negotiations, the city's public schools became ineligible for $250 million in state funding for the next fiscal year. An additional $200 million in funding is still up for grabs if a deal is made by Sept. 13.
Bloomberg said the deal-breaker came down to the union's request to increase the amount of arbitrary hearings and for the evaluation deal to expire after two years. He continued to slam the union during his testimony, accusing it of perpetrating "fraud" toward the city's children, but UFT President Michael Mulgrew reiterated that the expiration date, or sunset clause, didn't mean that teachers would avoid termination.
"Based on his recent behavior, I think the mayor needs a time out. It works very well with children in schools," he said in a statement.
City Comptroller John Liu, who is mulling a run for mayor, blamed Bloomberg for the lack of an evaluation deal but told the committees that their decision to nix the funding would have long-lasting effects on the city's economy for years.
"The mayor's attitude of contempt toward teachers has cost our city's taxpayers dearly," he told the Albany legislators.
Liu's possible Democratic opponent, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, however, was more optimistic about the fate of the school systems.
"Last year when there [was] very high . . . teacher attrition, we didn't let that number of teachers get attrited out," she said Monday at a news conference. "We stopped it."
The city's Department of Education and teachers union have been at odds over the specifics of teacher evaluations. Here's how the evals would work under the state's Educational Law.
-- School districts would assign trained professionals to evaluate teachers, principals and other educational staff in the city.
-- Teachers would receive four quality rating scores: highly effective; effective; developing; and ineffective. The rating is determined by a number of factors including student growth and regulations from the DOE.
-- Teachers would be able to appeal their rating, but the specifics on the appeal process haven't been finalized by the city and teachers union.