Everyone knows what makes a good school--good teachers and small classes. Your boss, Mayor Bloomberg, used to talk a lot about the need for good teachers. In fact, he went and took the LAST test, passed easily, and declared any high school graduate ought to be able to pass it. I was encouraged by a mayor who seemed to seek excellence, rather than expedience, in hiring teachers for the city's kids.
Shortly thereafter, however, he sent you to Albany to request the right not only to retain teachers who'd failed that test, often multiple times, but also to ask for the right to hire more teachers who hadn't met minimum state requirements. Your request was granted, and now, thanks to you, New York City has the least qualified staff in the entire state. The UFT, which you condemn at every turn, has long supported high standards for teachers.
I would not want an unqualified teacher instructing my child. Would you like one for yours? How on earth can you find them suitable for NYC's 1.1 million kids?
As for class size, sir, Mayor Bloomberg single-handedly prevented a referendum on lower class size from reaching New York City voters. You proposed a contract with no limits on class size whatsoever. Last year, overcrowded classes were everywhere. I personally knew people teaching them the entire semester. You dismissed this in the press as UFT propaganda.
Recently, and thankfully, the court case on these issues was resolved, decreeing New York children need and deserve good teachers and small classes. It was finally decided that we would get funding, and that the city could shoulder some of the cost for this. The group that brought the suit suggested the city pay 25%. Governor Pataki suggested 40%.
Thus far, Mayor Bloomberg has offered precisely nothing, and a spokesman suggested, if compelled to pay, the Mayor would reply “No, thank you” to the suit in its entirety.
The actions of this administration suggest that you support neither good teachers nor small classes.
I will spare you, for now, my comments on the unconscionable overcrowding of our high schools, mine included. In return, kindly spare us notes like this year's welcome letter, the one that appeared in our mailboxes before the Christmas break, or the one you published in the UFT paper. We've seen you interviewed, we've read your comments, and we've read your 8 page contract. We all know precisely how you feel about us.
We are the city's teachers. When you vilify the UFT, you vilify every one of us. Show us a little respect. When you're really ready, we'll gladly work with you to improve education.
That's our job.
PS If you really want good teachers, I suggest you scrap the PERB proposals in their entirety and simply offer us a raise. Contrary to what you may have read in the Daily News, 50% of our new teachers don't quit within 5 years because the working conditions are too easy and the pay too high.
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