2011-01-28 / Letters

Mayor Needs An Education

Dear Editor,

The Chancellor of New York City Schools who shall go down in the annals of great educators with the likes of Plato, Quintilian and Socrates, that water carrier for the mayor has the temerity to float the proposal that ends teachers’ seniority. She complains the last one hired should not necessarily be the first one laid off if that teacher is more highly skilled than a tenured teacher. And, dear readers, if you don’t think this is about shedding high salaries in favor of entry level ones, you too are missing the point.

Let us say tenure for teachers is abolished and every year each teacher’s contract is up for renewal. How will the pressure of being rehired affect a teacher’s performance? Just how will teacher worth be determined? Will the principal, who well may be of dubious skill, get the final approval? If this is so, faculties better pucker up at the very least and shower the principal with gifts and praise in order to keep their jobs.

With the number of high schools increasing by sub-division, the number of principals has increased considerably despite the watered down qualification pool from which school heads are selected. Under the old system it was easy to monitor and evaluate principals and scholastic achievement as the schools had been in existence for decades. Under the Bloomberg-Klein System no standardized test scores can be compared or contrasted with the new ones because the old ones came from schools that no longer exist. Thus, if the Cathie Black-Bloomberg method of obfuscating test scores by eliminating schools of yesteryear in favor of newly named sub-divided new schools is perpetuated, evaluators will be so confused when it comes to comparing test scores they will throw up their hands in defeat. Honestly, the mayor wouldn’t be happier.

Who among us does not believe for the mayor the bottom line is not money? Who among us does believe that politics in hiring and firing will supercede ability? Who among us does not believe the mayor is trying to blow the seniority part of the teachers’ collective bargaining agreement out of the water? Who among us believes for as many principals who have favorites among their faculties there are good teachers who may not get along with the principal; thus, leaving themselves wide open for ouster?

Like ill-advised teacher bonuses, elimination of tenure for purposes of layoffs is subjective. As such, the teaching environment becomes fraught with politics that could reach unconscionable levels and severely harm educational climate in the schools.

We have a mayor who has no education credibility, a chancellor who has zero education credibility save her visits to some of the city schools since her appointment as chancellor. The mayor’s appointment of this chancellor is definitely an example of the blind leading the blind when it comes to educating one million school children. However, our mayor is not stupid. But, he must think the electorate is. If both Bloomberg and Black are miraculously on the same page when it comes to laying off tenured teachers with higher salaries rather than newbies with lower ones, city residents cannot be surprised.

Developing a master teacher could take as much as a dozen years. This development must be done with the oversight of a skilled department chairman and mentors for newly minted teachers. If the quality of education is to be on a higher level, a delicate balance of the old and the new with the new aging into the old is the best scenario. For a mayor to recommend breaking the collective bargaining agreement when he cannot even lay off totally unproductive teachers assigned to rubber rooms is inane. Moreover, the subjectivity with regard to decisions as to who stays and who goes will throw the department of education into a tailspin.

City dwellers should count themselves fortunate indeed that the mayor hasn’t awakened in a sweat one night and switched the head of Sanitation with the head of the Department of Health. After all, he may reason, nobody knows more about sanitation than those doctors in the Department of Health and visa versa. The mayor has to find other ways of getting blood from the stone that are the residents of New York City. Throw another dollar a month onto cell phone bills. Charge an inspection fee for those who heat their homes with fireplaces or wood burning stoves. Charge a permit fee for those using Central Park. Charge private colleges real estate taxes on dorms and buildings that are not education dedicated. Charge a few dollars more for annual boat registrations. But, don’t take our shortfall out on the one part of the population who have no sway in politics, school children.

Oh, and don’t forget to give the mayor a rousing welcome on our March 6th route shortened St. Paddy’s Day Parade. Why not make a placard and wave it as he walks by to show him how you feel about his asinine decision-making.

JOAN METTLER

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