Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ms. Weingarten Supports You

Well, another day, another Daily News editorial trashing the teachers' union. They seem to feel the only voices this mayor should obey are the ones in his head. Those are the same voices, of course, that told him to send 6-year-old children out with metrocards, and the same ones that told him the dead of winter was the optimal moment to cancel bus service.

They're the same voices that told him to refuse to contribute dime one to CFE, resulting in a two-thirds reduction in funds headed to NYC's 1.1 million children. As usual, blame is laid at the feet of UFT President Randi Weingarten:

She has two issues. First, that Bloomberg would deny tenure to probationary teachers who fail to raise achievement by measurable standards.
Actually, it's the city that's failed to enforce existing tenure rules for over 30 years, trying to artificially pump up supply while continuing to pay the lowest salaries in the area. I don't think bad teachers should get tenure. In fact, I don't think they should be hired in the first place.

However, the city is absolutely free to deny tenure to probationary teachers, just as it has always been. It's plainly the city's failure, not Ms. Weingarten's, that it failed to exercise its options. If the city truly wanted good teachers, it would have insisted on hiring and retaining them long ago. Actually, years of intergalactic searches, lowered standards and 800 numbers strongly suggest the city is concerned only with getting teachers at bargain-basement prices, and cares not one whit who teaches its children.
Second, that his budget proposal would crimp the ability of senior teachers to congregate in schools with the easiest workloads.

This is not at all the case. In 2005, Ms. Weingarten gave up the UFT transfer plan, which allowed teachers to select schools in which they wished to transfer. She also gave up the right of excessed teachers to guaranteed reassignment in order of seniority. And furthermore, she did all this for a compensation increase that failed to meet cost of living.

It's true that if Mr. Bloomberg gets his druthers, it will be even more unattractive for principals to hire senior teachers. Of course, they're no longer under any obligation to hire them now, so the point is moot.

Senior teachers are, as always, less pliable, and less willing to put up with abuse. Principals now have the absolute right to deny them placement. Senior teachers will soon, perhaps, cost these principals double the salary of new teachers, making them even less attractive.

Once again, the city can focus on cheaper teachers, and if it can turn them over quickly enough (it now loses about half in five years), it won't have to bother with those nasty pensions. Ms. Weingarten, by granting principals absolute veto over who gets hired, and not even demanding cost of living in return, has been an absolute boon to those who support this mayor.

The Daily News should stand up and applaud her. If the editorial staff has the courage of its convictions, it ought to be down on bended knees begging to touch the hem of her garment. Without Ms. Weingarten's cooperation, there would be no mayoral control, and none of their professed desires would be remotely within reach.
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