Proposed NYC Education Changes Draw Mixed Reactions

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thousands of New York City teaching jobs could soon be eliminated under the spending plan being unveiled by Mayor Bloomberg Thursday, and the teachers union is not happy.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb with reaction from the UFT’s Michael Mulgrew

michael mulgrew Proposed NYC Education Changes Draw Mixed Reactions

Michael Mulgrew, UFT President, voices his opposition to the plan (credit: CBS 2)

Teacher layoffs will number 4,700 while 1,500 jobs will go unfilled. That’s one in every 12 public school teachers in the Big Apple.

“The budget assumes that we will lose about 6,000 teachers through layoffs and attrition,” Bloomberg said. “If the state does not come through with the $600 million we need to balance our budget, in addition to having fewer teachers, we are going to have to have a program to reduce the gap which will spread the pain across all agencies.”

Bloomberg said major reforms are need to keep the city solvent. “Only by reforming our retirement system can we protect reasonable and fair pensions while also making sure we have the police, the firefighters, and the sanitation workers we need on our streets and the teachers we need in our classrooms,” Bloomberg added.

Mayor Bloomberg blames a statewide slash in education funding for the drastic cutbacks. “New York City’s share of that will be a $1 billion cut,” Bloomberg said.

Michael Mulgrew tells 1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks that he believes Bloomberg is intent on harming children

The cuts run so deep the mayor said the only way to handle it is to change the hiring system.

“Government’s job is not to employ as many people as possible or spend as much of the taxpayers’ money as possible,” Bloomberg said. “We want our taxes to be as low as is prudent. Our job is to hold ourselves accountable and spend only what’s necessary.”

“I don’t know how that process would go. It’s a very scary thing,” said Roberta Rowner, kindergarten teacher at P.S. 163. She’s a 22-year veteran teacher and under current state law, her job would be theoretically be safe because she has seniority.

The mayor spoke on the issue late last month. “In the private sector nobody would do last in, first out. You do, you know, who are the most productive and you say to the others ‘Look it would have been nice if we could afford it but the world isn’t that way’,” he said.

Do you agree with the mayor? Leave a comment below

1010 WINS’ John Montone with details of the proposed cuts

In a statement, Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson said “The only thing worse than laying off teachers would be laying off the wrong teachers.”

The news was getting around quickly. “That’s horrible. He shouldn’t,” said parent Tom Leung.

“It’s not really fair to just get rid of the newer teachers because I think that a lot of them are probably great teachers,” said teacher Stephanie Crilley of P.S. 163. “I don’t think it’s fair to let go of teachers that have been there for 20 years either.”

Union officials were fighting the layoffs, saying they’re unnecessary and target the city’s hardest workers.

“We are going to have a catastrophic effect on children’s education and we cannot let that happen,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.

“This is very, very troubling and this is something we’re going to continue to be out there telling the public what the real truth is because it seems that the mayor of New York City is intent on harming children,” Mulgrew said.

The layoffs come despite a projected $2 billion increase in tax revenue. The teacher’s union accuses Bloomberg of playing a political game to push his merit policy through Albany.

“We haven’t seen these levels of class sizes since the mid-70s but right now the city has $2 billion in surplus and if the mayor wants more money out of Albany then he should be up there with us supporting a millionaire’s tax,” Mulgrew said.

The mayor’s budget will go through a number of revisions before the City Council votes on it in late June.

More from Rich Lamb
  • Michael Feiner

    Teachers & motorists alway get the short shrift. Why is that?

  • Vince Apple

    Catholic Schools do just as good of job educating our children as the public schools for almost half the cost. Privatize the entire education system and see what happens. I am tired of hearing Public School teachers say they should be paid like they were in the private sector. Private School teachers make much less than public school teachers as do the Administrators. Many of those teachers and the thousands of unemployed teachers and administrators would gladly take a job in a public school at a reduced salary, but the unions do not allow that. We need our unions to protect workers rights, but we also need them to realize that they are partially responsible for the mess we are in. Teacher Layoffs are a sad thing, but could be avoided if the UFT went back to the table and reworked contracts for the good of the kids. 6,000 teachers in the city plus 3, 000 on the Island, this could be devastating. Instead of tearing each other down we need to work on solutions…and as an administrator I take offense to the idea that we as a group give teachers with the most money poor evaluations. If a teacher is not qualified then a teacher should not be in a room, that can be at any age. We have to accept the fact that some teachers can be amazing into their 70’s and others may not. We need to keep the tenure system, but we also need to have a way to eliminate teachers who after a specified period of time no longer can teach effectively. If we do not do something, we will see this state declare bankruptcy and all union contracts will be eliminated as will everyones pensions. Think it won’t happen…just wait and see.



  • JR

    People…Something needs to get done, period! Everybody gripes, complains, whines about taxes and costs. Then, when something HAS to be done, everybody continues to gripe, complain and whine. Sorry, time to make the cuts that should have been made years ago. These cuts are long overdue, and not just teachers. Sorry, things can not continue as they are, and sadly, people will lose their jobs. This state pays the MOST per student in the USA, and we rank 38th in achievement. HELLO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Philip Ackerman

    I am sure we would all be happy to know that there are students in our schools that simply refuse to go to class. Probably about 150 give or take 75 per school. These students have discipline records three pages long and manage to graduate on the 6 year plan via summer school and PM school (more things paid for by your tax dollars) Then the city boasts high graduation rates. My point is lets get rid of summer school and PM school. Let those things be privatized give everyone one chance maybe two with obvious exceptions and maybe just maybe in addition to saving money we will produce real graduates that will make the city a better place

  • NY

    WCBS is not allowing any further comments on the Sarah Palin article. They shoud re-title this section from “comments” to “selective comments supoprting a particular political viewpoint.” Or better yet. People should do what I’m about to do and not look at this website for a week. WCBS advertisers will love that. Professional objective journalism?

    • Bristol

      Yeah, i just tried too. What’s up with that? Guess nobody better have anything to say about the dinosaurs-didn’t-exist, evolution-doesn’t exist, I-can-see-Russia-from-my-house saying, doesn’t know what the Bush doctrine is, mama grizzly. Who would want to say anything about her anyway?

  • BC

    This says it all – education cuts will only result in more people like the above.

  • Kevin

    Bloomberg oversaw a 700 million dollar fraud in the payroll scam. Where does he get off laying our teachers off?

  • Jets Fan

    Cut the Medifraud, Mediwaste, Welfare, Unemployment, WIC, Foodstamps, benefits to illegal aliens, TAX CUTS TO THE ULTRA-RICH, and you find an excess of money without targeting civil servants and honest working men and women.

    This Mayor is myopic fool who has lost complete sight of reality. There have been successful revolts in Egypt and the Mid-East, and NYC is on course for an upheaval if things don’t change.

  • Jim

    Teachers that are below standards for three consecutive years should be let go regardless of whether or not there are layoffs. Seniority should be the predominate factor in retention for all those that “meet standards or above” on their evaluations.

    • Devenio

      and who sets the standard? and who checks to see if those standards are applied fairly?

    • Sean

      As a teacher, I could not agree more. Simply make it easier to get rid of ineffective teachers rather than try to score political points against Albany.

  • luis fuentes

    You allowed the teachers union headed by Shanker in the 60s and 70s to muscle you. It cost you higher teacher salaries, smaller class sizes and parent involvement. Many teachers have retired with exhorbitant retirement monies. Now our children will pay the price.

    • Devenio

      Teacher don’t make enough now Luis. If you want stupid kids Luis then you reverse everything you listed above.

    • Elnegrito1205

      Exorbitant retirement monies???? Where do you get that from Luis? Get your facts straight!! By the way, “exhorbitant” does not exist!!!

  • Mario Caggiano

    After teaching 15 years , I worked my way up the pay scale to earn 85,000. My experience is invaluable. Mayor bloomberg does’nt want to keep the most experienced teachers to save money. Period ! . It isnt about the brightest it’s only about money .” It isnt about most effective because young teachers have too much to learn “.There is ,too much, waste in the Court Street and livingston Street offices . For example, there are two workers to take take your picture for an id card.

    • MM

      I agree with you Mario That is exactly what the mayor’s plan is. If a principle fires 1 senior teacher they could bring in 1 new one whose pay is about half. It is ALL ABOUT THE MONEY. Don’t be fooled people. I work in a school and I see lots of things going on, but the union rights protect these people and they are not bad teachers. They are just disliked by the administration because they speak up when they see something wrong. If it were up to my administration they would have half the staff fired, and it is very easy for them to give them a U rating in order to accomplish this. How would a teacher fight this? Does anybody think about these teacher’s families? It is up to 1 person to decide their fate. All it will take is for that administrator not to like you, and that is it, you are in for it. And keep in mind, the evaluation is their opinion. Should anyone be given a rating based on someone else’s opinion? This is not the way to make reform. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few bad apples, but there needs to be a different way to deal with those people. How can a first year teacher be as good or better than someone who has been teaching more than 5 years? Experience is a must. Just ask yourself, would you rather have your child in an experienced teacher’s class or a brand new teacher, straight out of college, who does not have the management skills yet, or does not know the curriculum yet? So yeah the mayor has the money in mind and nothing else. He really does not care about your kids. He lives in his own bubble. He is basically trying to get the teachers to bail out the city’s budget problem. That is the bottom line.

    • Ann Marie Kellett

      Judging by your punctuation and sentence structure I pray you don’t teach English.

      • Leslie Gibb

        I agree with you Ann and that is why we have to keep competent and effective teachers.

  • Jaypee

    There are a lot of goof off’s in the school system. My sister in law was one of them. She didn’t give a darn about the kids, she just wanted the pay and benefits

    Today my college son who is in a CUNY told me that his ENGLISH teacher/professor said there will be no class for 2 weeks because he is going away. What nerve. Why is this teacher allowed to do this? When the school receives financial aid, and kid/parents pay tuition?
    Fire some CUNY college professors as well.

  • Jerry_Leigh

    I would love to see WCBS/WINS run with the story that appeared in the Chief, last January 31, about the principal who was fined $7500 for ordering supervisors to negatively rate all those teachers. How about it?

  • AIG rules

    Fire Bermuda Mike. His weekend trips on a jet cost more than a cop’s or teacher’s yearly salary. If he gave up 10 trips to Bermuda yearly, he should donate that money. Talk about excess. City workers take a trip every 3 o 4 years, this doosh takes one every weekend.

    • Val

      Whether you like the mayor or not, he does not draw a salary and spends his own money. It has nothing to do with this budget issue at all!

    • Michael H.

      So he shouldnt be allowed to spend his own money on vacations? Is that what you’re saying?

  • Rex

    There is so much waste in the NYPD. Cut the crime analysis supervisors and their staff in every precinct. Leave the crime analyses to the Special operations lieutenant and the comp stat preparation to the Admin lieutenant and his staff.

  • Harold Trump

    I think that they should fire “all” teachers. That would save the city a lot of money. The jobs have all gone to India, China & South America anyway. Today’s kids should all become day laborers and just hang around Home Depot. That’s the future baby.

  • Trishe

    Get rid of the unions. All these civil workers seem to have sweethart deals and they still want more. I have yet to find a job that gives the summer off with pay or a job that gives $12K extra yearly after retirement. Fire them all and start fresh with new hiring methods and NO UNIONS.

    • Greg

      No Unions. In the private sector, the boss can fire you because you wear red to work, or create any reason without cause and you have no say. Unions protect your rights. You keep thinking it’s the teachers or the cops and firemen that are “ruining” the city. Have you heard of the $700 million city time scandal or the countless millions wasted on no-bid contracts. Stop drinking the mayoral Kool-Aid and do a little more research. It’s not your fault. You just believe everything the mayor and the media spoon feed you.

    • rce

      Life is beautiful when you have simple answers to complicated issues. Pass the remote please.

    • Dee

      Oh please!!! Summers off is hardly a great thing when you have to deal with children whose parents do not even want to deal with them. they treat education like a babysitting service. There are so much more that teachers have to deal with. Not to mention we work all during the weekend and when we go home. You think we have enough time for planning grading test and teaching at school? Don’t talk about teacher’s and summers off when most people can leave their work at work while teachers have to take it home!!!

    • Christine

      Get your facts straight. Teachers are paid for 10 months and we have the option of either getting all of out salary during the 10 months we are teaching, or doing what most of us do and have the 10 month salary stretched out over 12 months. We do not get paid for sitting home; we get paid for the time we teach.

      If you think teachers have such a cushy job, I DARE you to get in front of a classroom of underperforming freshman students and get them to 1) sit still and be respectful, 2) LEARN SOMETHING, 3) take responsibility for their education and themselves. When you can do that as well as I can, then run your mouth. Until then, “It is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it.”

  • Justice

    Well that’s what we get for electing this Bloomberg character to be our mayor, who has no educational background and cares very little about children. Did you know that the biggest turn around of teachers leaving the system comes during their first three years, when they realize that they can’t control the classroom environment. I’v seen so many come and go throughout my eleven years of teaching. By the way, I am in this for the long haul because I love it.

  • BC

    Why go after the teachers? Go after the police officers who make $80K+ after 5 years and abuse their overtime by “writing up” their reports. Isn’t it obvious when cops are always maxing out the amount of overtime they’re allowed? Lay off some cops and take back the sweetheart deal you gave them when you bumped their salaries.

    • Greg

      Sure, lay off the cops. just don’t be surprised when the cops take a while to arrive when you have that crackhead sitting in front of your house or when you call for something more serious because you’re too afraid to do something about it yourself. That’s what we get paid for. To put ourselves in harm’s way so you don’t have to

      • BC

        Nothing against cops, but the salary and benefits are ridiculous for someone who has 2 years of college and/or 2 years of military exp, for work that most people could do if they wanted to. Teachers need a 4 year college degree and get paid less than cops. Go figure.
        The NYPD and other area police officers do a great job, but why is it that they feel entitled to lavish benefits, high salaries, and a ‘hero’ status? In the end, most of them signed up because it was better than working as a security guard, a cashier, retail store associate, etc. And let’s be real – while there are times when you put yourselves in harms way, most of the time you come responding after a crime has already been committed. Harm has already been done.

  • Bob J

    Unfortunately there is no fair system in place to determine who are the teachers who should be removed,except in the Mamby Pamby world of the Mayor .The school system is full of cronyism,and outright racism .I quess the Mayor thinks the good ones that get dismissed unfairly are just acceptable losses.New teachers flatly just don’t have the skills or experience .If individual principals are left to choose,they will just keep there own loyal peanut gallery.

  • fred

    If teachers are professionals shouldn’t they be able to negotiate their own salaries as in the real world?
    Instead they not only have tenure but also a union. Gym teachers,music teachers,art teachers all paid the same as math,english and science.Let us not forget about the thirteen plus weeks off a year that they get.
    How else can costs be controlled without reducing head counts? The union dictates who goes first within departments.Administration determines which departments stay.

    • Ms. Cathi

      A teacher’s salary is based on 52 weeks, just like everone elses. The time off is just that – time off. Vacations, etc. What about those execs who get a minimum of 5 weeks + comp. time, plus sick time, plus personal days plus reward time. As far as gym teachers, music and art teachers go; ever hear of the Latin phrase,” Mens sana in corporo sanum” (There are many paralel and dreivatives). It can be looked op.

      • BAC

        Well execs still don’t get 13 weeks a year off and plus these execs run Company’s. They don’ baby sit children like most of the teachers do because the way our education stacks up against other countries it sure seems like the students are not learning anything

  • barney rostaing

    The issue is not so simple. Firing an average middle-aged teacher with children to make room for a young gun is very questionable. Reliability andf tenure have to e part of a complex formula no one seems to be thinking about.

    • steve

      If they are looking to get rid of 6,000 of 72,000 teachers, I doubt that all 6,000 are tenured teachers. If you have 6,000 (1 in 12)bad teachers with time on the job then that is bad hiring practices on the city’s part. It is a money issue and that is it. Get rid of a 75-85K teacher and keep the 45k teacher. It truly is a numbers game.

  • James Doodle

    Fire the “fat cats” at the top who are paid fortune and do little or nothing. We need the teachers, not the FAT CATS–Fire them first.

    • Bill Costello

      Would you go t teleast experienced surgeon. Experience counts

  • Ms. Cathi

    Why is it that the rank and file always seem to be the first to go when the city or state messes up financially. Why not the lieutenant Gov., asst, amyo, commissioners? Teachers? Who taught you to read Mr.Mayer. Tenure? A tenured noticeably inefficient teacher can be dismissed. Difficult bu doable. Tehure does not = job security for all. Good thing this mayor is not tenured.

  • rce

    More Union bustiing by the usual suspects.

  • Kevin

    it’s amazing that the city wasted 700 million dollars on hi tech city time payroll project embezzlement and now are laying off our kids teachers.

    little skewed don’t uou think?

    • Joe Smith

      Kevin, you hit the nail on the head
      Where was the MICROMANAGING Mayor when this went down
      Bermuda probably!!!!

  • John

    It is just a pretext to get rid of hard earned seniority. Mayor has an agendas. He is a business man. Merit system in ny is flawed. Ask any teacher. Stop playing business with education. Kids deserve better than that.

  • Marcus Aurelius

    Valerie, you use an example at Frito Lay. Are these layoffs by seniority semi-skilled factory workers? In that case, everyone’s skills are pretty much the same, so a layoff based upon experience at the company probably makes sense.

    Most private sector companies do NOT do layoffs largely based upon seniority. They do it based upon the value that the employee brings to the company. If an employee is motivated, performs well and is in demand then their job is more likely secure than someone who slacks off.

    Teachers are not semi-skilled workers, so their aptitudes (and attitudes) can differ greatly. I’m OK with having unionized contracts only if there is a way to get underperforming teachers fixed, and dreadful ones fired without having a seniority-based system

    • Valerie

      No, I am speaking of the sales teams in the stores you see. I assume factory workers are the same although I have never been in a factory. I am referring to the hundreds of regional centers, there are 3-4 in NJ and 5-6 in NY with thousands of sales staff. Routes are assigned and layoffs are done solely based on seniority. That is just one example of many that base layoffs on seniority. The mayor has an agenda and isn’t trying to avoid layoffs so he will say whatever he needs to, just like he did when he ran a 3rd time illegally.

  • RichieT

    The average income of the K-12 grade teachers in NYC is $50,752. The lowest of the top seven is Philly. $43,347 I totally understand the way seniority works in any business . BUT, in any business where a person is not performing up to standards, how can anyone justify firing a person that’s doing the job, and not a person that’s not. Especially with the future of the great country depending on it.

    • K

      While this is a valid question, the concern then becomes how do you decide who is performing up to the standard? If this is just based on principal evaluations, bias comes into play. If this is based on test scores, then the evaluation is not totally valid or reliable.

  • John Q

    This mayor has no idea (or has forgotten) what it’s like to have to work for a living for under 60K/year. He’s so out of touch with the average worker that he’s actually dangerous.

  • Valerie

    The mayor is wrong. The Private sector can lay off based on seniority and many do. Frito Lay employs thousands of people. They are not unionized in NY, and layoffs are done based on seniority. The mayor has an agenda. The governor already stated publicly that layoffs are not needed at all. So why is the mayor fighting for layoffs instead if fighting for the children??

    • Mario Caggiano

      ” Because it’s about breaking the unions and MONEY “” his powerful sharks on wall street will profit from Charter schools !”

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