Dear Commons Community,
Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave his state of the city address yesterday. He covered a lot of ground but much of it was devoted to the New York City public schools. He tries to establish that the public schools are better since he took office (highly debatable) and calls for several major new policies. The most significant is to establish a merit pay system for teachers. Specifically:
“We’ll also work to retain the best teachers – by offering them a big raise. Today, we’re making an offer to all New York City teachers: If you are rated highly effective for two consecutive years we will hike your salary by $20,000 per year.
“Historically, teachers unions around the country have opposed rewarding great teaching through merit pay, but more and more teachers are asking why, and we’ve seen how well this can work in other cities.
“With an evaluation system now required by law, rewarding great teaching is an idea whose time has come. We hope the UFT will join us in this effort, because it’s the right thing to do for our schools and our teachers. Their excellence deserves to be rewarded and compensated.”
Mayor Bloomberg joins other New York officials namely Governor Andrew Cuomo who see merit pay and teacher evaluations based on test scores as a major reform needed to turn failing schools around. Michael Mulgrew and the UFT surely disagree and it seems all of the above need to go through a collective bargaining process. Unfortunately the relationship between the UFT and the New York City Department of Education has not been very good for years thanks largely to the confrontational positions of former schools chancellor Joel Klein.