Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Mayor's View

Mayor Bloomberg just wrote an op-ed in the Queens Courier which is notable mostly for its omissions. It's not as though he's the only one who's forgetful, but as always, the devil is in the details.

The mayor talks about how inspirational his history teacher was. I don't doubt it. However, Mayor Bloomberg has also said the needs of teachers should be put last, and he's done a good job keeping them there.

Perhaps that's one reason the mayor did not see fit to enroll his kids in public schools. My daughter's suburban teachers, for example, are well taken-care-of, and that in no small part accounts for their consistent excellence.

Mayor Bloomberg also points to improvements in the graduation rate, but that was likely to be the case, since he elects not to count dropouts among those who've failed to graduate.

Most notably, though, is this:

As Mayor, I'm pleased to have now negotiated three contracts with the UFT, raising starting teacher salaries by 43 percent during a period when our City has had to overcome both a fiscal crisis and a national recession.

First of all, the city is sitting on a huge surplus, partly resulting from its determination not to share it with working people (The cops and firefighters are big heroes, but we don't want to pay them!). Second, those percentages are not accurate, as these salaries will not be in effect for a few years yet.

But like our union leaders, Mayor Bloomberg consistently neglects to point out that at least 10 percent of that represents additional time, and is, therefore, not a raise at all. The Mayor, like UFT President Randi Weingarten, also fails to acknowledge that perpetual lunch duty represents extra work, that teaching a sixth class represents extra work, or that severely cut prep time necessitates that many teachers finish their work at home.

For new teachers or laypersons unfamiliar with this concept, a raise is when you receive more money for doing the same job. It's very disturbing that UFT leadership shares the mayor's view that our time is worthless. The mayor continues:

That's clear proof of how we're continuing to work hard to put more money into our schools even as the State has failed to fully address its responsibilities identified in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity case.

What the mayor forgets here is that Governor George Pataki offered to shoulder 60% of the CFE cost when it would have brought 4.7 billion dollars a year to NYC schools. CFE felt the state should pay 75%. Bloomberg's people refused to negotiate, and said they'd say "No, thank you," to the award if forced to pay a single dime. This resulted in Pataki's appeal, and an award cut to about 2 billion a year. The mayor can blame the state, but were it not for his inflexibility, CFE would have been resolved, and resolved better, years ago.

Governor-elect Spitzer has promised to provide more, but the mayor still insists he will not contribute. It's remarkable politicians are permitted to get away with such logical pyrotechnics. Sadly, they seem par for the course nowadays.

Thanks to Norm
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