On the day before Thanksgiving, Mayor Mike Bloomberg went to Washington DC and gave a speech in which he basically declared war on teachers.
He said he is seeking state legislation that will fundamentally end the UFT as we know it. Teachers could be fired after one year if they are excessed and can't find a new job, excessing and layoffs would be based on principal evaluations rather than seniority, ten percent of schools would be closed, tenure decisions would be made based on student test scores, the process to fire teachers would be expedited and the charter school cap would be lifted.
The mayor added that he can tie tenure decisions to pupil test scores now even though the law says teacher tenure decisions should not be made based on student test scores.
Ultimately, he would turn us into employees who could be fired at will to kill the UFT. Lifting the charter school cap would in essence be a step toward killing the public schools by turning them over to private operators.
In response, UFT President Michael Mulgrew emailed a statement to us that was negative but did not rule out any specific proposal emphatically. He said in part, "Many of these measures would require either state legislation or negotiated changes in the DOE/UFT contract. The Department of Education created many of the personnel issues like the ATR pool and the rubber rooms that the Mayor now cites as problems. The Mayor needs to take responsibility for what he and his Chancellor have created. Our members should not have their lives and well-being put at risk because of mismanagement."
"We stand willing to work with anyone who wants to work constructively on these or any other educational issues, but we will not work with those who choose to scapegoat the people who have dedicated their lives to children. It’s the hard work and commitment of our members that has moved this system forward despite the mismanagement."
"Be assured the UFT will protect your rights and continue to fight for what we know is best for our students. We will not allow the DOE’s inadequacies and mismanagement to be put upon the backs of the members of this union or be allowed to hurt the children of this city."
In the NY Times account, President Michael Mulgrew used the words "very, very disappointed" in describing his reaction to the tone of the Mayor's remarks.
I would use words such as angered and outraged to react to the entire proposal. I would declare that this union will fight with our last breaths these virtual death threats that would destroy our profession, our union and the public schools. When an employer declares war on the union and on public education, it is up to the union to mobilize us to fight with every tool at our disposal.
We can't be afraid of negative editorials from the Daily News or the Post. The time for soft collegial diplomacy is over.