UFT opposes mayor’s merit pay for teachers

| brennison@queenscourier.com |

Mayor Michael Bloomberg believes the skinny on retaining top teachers is handing them a fat check.

During the mayor’s State of the City speech, he outlined a plan that would reward teachers rated as “highly effective” in consecutive years with a $20,000 salary increase.

“Our teachers deserve that — and so do our children,” the mayor said.

The plan, along with his offer to pay off up to $25,000 in student loans, the mayor says, will help the city recruit and secure first-rate teachers.

On its most recent report card, The National Council on Teacher Quality gave New York a D+ on its ability to retain effective teachers.

The report pinpoints the weaknesses in the state’s ability to keep top teachers as not discouraging districts from basing salary schedules solely on years of experience and advanced degrees and not supporting performance pay or additional compensation for relevant prior work experience.

“We will continue to improve our schools for our 1.1 million students by recruiting, rewarding and retaining the best educators, and providing students with the support they need to thrive,” Bloomberg said. “Our administration is not going to stop until there is a great teacher in every classroom and a great school in every neighborhood.”

The United Federation of Teachers believes the mayor has his head in the cloud when it comes to merit-based pay.

“The mayor seems to be lost in his own fantasy world of education, the one where reality doesn’t apply. It doesn’t do the kids and the schools any good for him to propose the kind of teacher merit pay system that has failed in school districts around the country,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said in a statement. “If he’s really interested in improving the schools his administration has mishandled, he will send his negotiators back to the table to reach an agreement on a new teacher evaluation process.”

The teacher’s union and the city have been at an impasse in negotiations since the end of 2011 over evaluations of teachers.

The UFT has proposed a system that would be expanded from satisfactory/unsatisfactory to four categories: highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective.  The mayor is looking for a system that allows ineffective teachers to be removed from the classroom more easily.

If the two sides cannot come to an agreement on a negotiate teacher evaluation system by 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo can withhold his proposed four percent increase in school aid.