A conversation in the bull pen at City Hall, overheard by a co-worker, has been forward to me. Mike Bloomberg is evidently on a conference call with Richard Condon ("Dick"), Special Commissioner of Investigation, and Mecca Santana, director of the Office of Equal Opportunity at the NYC BOE's 65 Court Street address. "Theresa" is, of course, Theresa Europe of "The Gotcha Squad", and Howard Wolfson is "Counsel to the Mayor".
Mike Bloomberg :
"Darn it, I can control technology, but not those lazy, unprofessional high-paid senior teachers sitting around classrooms and doing nothing while their students fight each other and send sexually explicit texts on their iphones (that I banned). Dick, Mecca, I need you to get me the names of these principals who are not getting rid of tenured teachers fast enough. Get Cathie on board. Tell them they better get moving on sending incident reports to Theresa over at the "Gotcha Squad" - I hate that name, but you know the procedure - or there will be consequences. Oh, and the problem that we have with that music teacher from PS22, I forget his name, Gregg...Breinberg, thanks, for looking into getting something to use against him, he could blotch this whole campaign to get rid of senior teachers. Get moving on this and call Howard if you need anything from our buddies over at the News or Post, ok? But get moving, now.
|Richard "Dick" Condon|
DOE: Computers More Important Than Teachers, Schools
Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Education have been talking constantly about the department's budget of late, insisting that they must end the "Last In, First Out" rule (perhaps you've noticed the ads occasionally running on Gothamist?) and putting out scary budget projection after scary budget projection in which they say that unless they get more aid they will have to do things like fire six percent of the city's teachers. So isn't it a little odd that the department is planning to spend more than half-a-billion dollars on technology improvements next year while simultaneously cutting $1.3 billion from its construction budget for the next three years?
As Manhattan Beep Scot Stringer wrote to Cathy Black last week, the numbers being bandied about by the DOE are “particularly large in the context of a fiscal crisis which the mayor reports is so dire that he may eliminate some 6,000 teaching positions.”
Now, to be fair, the state capital that is behind much of the technology funding is specifically not to be used for teachers salaries. But it can use those funds for construction costs. And considering the department has announced plans to cut its construction budget from $2 billion over the next three years to $642 million you'd think they could use the cash. Remember, the city is already lined up to spend $708 million just changing the lights in city schools over the next decade! Not to mention the fact that 3,200 children were put on wait lists for kindergarten this year.
So what is the DOE planning on using that tech money for exactly? Didn't they already put a computer in every classroom? Bandwidth, baby! Now that more and more schools are actually starting to use the computers and smart boards and whatnot that they've been installing over the years they are increasingly finding that their networks can't keep up. And that's not all. Other tech projects in the works include something called iLearn NYC (a $50 million online course management project) and expanding a program called the Innovation Zone, or iZone, in which the department has been testing out tech-intensive teaching methods in 80 schools. The mayor's office wants the program to be expanded to 400 schools by the end of Bloomberg's third term.
Now we recognize that being technologically up-to-date is important for children (or at least is important for their parents), but in our minds no technology matters as much as having a good teacher and a school for them to teach in.
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Bloomberg: There Could Be 21,000 Teacher Layoffs
With Gov. Cuomo's first budget proposal since taking office imminent, Mayor Bloomberg announced yesterday that city schools could be facing a $1 billion budget cut, which could spell massive teacher layoffs. On his WOR radio show yesterday, he raised the specter that as many as 21,000 teachers could lose their jobs this year: "Scuttlebutt is that the education budget will be cut statewide, and New York City's share of that would be a billion-dollar cut."
Bloomberg estimated that if the $1 billion cut is approved, the city would be forced to cut 15,000 teachers. That's in addition to the 6,166 teacher layoffs Bloomberg plans to make in the fiscal year beginning July 1, making for a loss of nearly a quarter of the 75,000 teachers employed by the Department of Education. Bloomberg lamented the unfairness of the layoffs, focusing on the rules requiring teachers hired last to go first: "We'd have to part company with some of the best teachers. It's a state law, 'Last in, first out.' There are great and terrible teachers at every level of experience and age...In the private sector, nobody would do 'Last in, first out.' You'd do it on the 'Who is the most productive.'"
The only teachers who would be immune to the cuts are those in special education, English as a second language and speech. The worst cuts would hit District 9, which includes the Highbridge section of the Bronx, who would lose 27 percent; schools in District 1, which includes Manhattan's lower East Side, District 10 and District 12, which include Riverdale and Tremont, would all lose 26 percent of their teachers. United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew criticized Bloomberg for supporting the end of the millionaires' tax in light of these developments: "I would hope the mayor would fight for the children. He has chosen that his millionaire and billionaire friends are much more important than the children in the schools of New York City."