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As Bad As They Say?

7th March 2011

Author, Janet Grossbach Mayer, comments on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plans to take thousands of teachers off the payroll to help balance a strained budget:

Mayor Bloomberg (not Chancellor Black) has announced that 4,600 New York City teachers will have to be let go because of budget cuts. Never mind that Governor Cuomo has said that no teacher needs to be fired. Never mind that releasing 4,600 teachers will destroy the public schools which have already lost 5,000 teachers in the last two years. Mr. Bloomberg will have his way because he always does!

In my about-to-be-released book, AS BAD AS THEY SAY? Three Decades of Teaching in the Bronx not only do I write about my heroic Bronx students, but I also include a chapter entitled the “Deception, Dismantling and Demise of Public Education.” In that well-documented chapter (70 footnotes) I chronicle the reign of Mr. Bloomberg, a dictatorial non-educator, as he barrels ahead seeking no one’s advice and changes law after law to get his way. His panel on education has never dissented from his demands and, for the most part, the Board of Regents approves everything too.

But under Mayor Bloomberg, standardized test scores are a sham. Look at the just-released National Assessment of Education scores in science: only 18% of fourth graders are at proficiency (average) and only 13% of eighth graders are at proficiency. Plus, the achievement gap has widened! Look at the June 2010 abysmal New York City standardized test scores. Look at the increase in charter schools (an increase Bloomberg went to the legislature to obtain) and then at the studies and statistics that show that charter schools not only cause collateral damage to neighboring public schools, they also perform less well than public schools. The mayor got the legislature to change term limits so that he could run for another term. Where was the outcry? He chose a new chancellor, another non-educator. Where was the outcry?

Now Mr. Bloomberg has gone again to the legislature to do away with seniority retention rights and keep only the “best” teachers. Now, I was an award-winning teacher, but it took many years to acquire my expertise and experience.   Do you think I would keep my job when I could be replaced by less expensive, inexperienced teachers? Since most administrators today are not master teachers, who will help and train the new teachers? Who will keep the schools functioning? Make no mistake about it. There is no way to choose teachers by merit when the test scores have been dumbed down and there are so many factors beyond the control of teachers, such as an excess of English Language learners, many special ed students, students with poor health and poor attendance, etc. This new plan by Bloomberg is nothing but a ploy to save money by keeping the lower-salaried, inexperienced teachers and eliminating the experienced ones. Mr. Bloomberg is hastening the demise of the public schools. Do not let him fire our best teachers, the highly experienced, but higher paid teachers! You get what you pay for! Save our schools!

Janet Grossbach Mayer