June 4, 2010

We got mail

Below is an email we got from Klein a couple of days ago when they changed their minds about laying some of us off. He's telling us how we're not going to get raises for a couple of years.

Klein doesn't need to be talking to us, since nobody likes him much or trusts him. Teachers don't take kindly to the smarmy explanations of bosses posing as protectors of children.

He should be talking to Mulgrew, and they both should be talking to the UFT's negotiating committee.

But, I guess a one-way email to a huge number of employees he's never really considered his "colleagues" is easier than sitting down at a table and discussing the really basic issues we face doing our job: money, working conditions, and the delivery of instruction.

Reading Klein's email, it occurred to me that the mayor can do all the "determining" he wants in the privacy of his own mansion. Unfortunately, that's not the way contracts work.

As for not "laying off a single teacher" for a year, I'm surprised he even toyed with the idea. The man was hired to push teachers out of the system, and I gotta hand it to him, he's done pretty well. Swamping us with non-instructional activities like teaching to the test and data doo-doo is not much fun. Nor is marginalizing increasing numbers of us out of permanent placements and harassing a slew of others into retiring sooner than intended. Was there ever any need to fiddle around with laying off people? I don't think so.

That remark about not being able to "do without 4,400 of our teachers" is a nice touch, but he'd love to lose 4, 400 of us — the higher paid ones. Then he can make room for lots more interns he can order around at lower cost, and has even been paying a company to recruit them. This issue is one of the major deceptions of his trash-and-burn chancellorship.

I won't call the man delusional or demented when he thinks he can actually identify the "best" teachers amongst us. Just political. No doubt talent counts, but where, whom, how many, and under what circumstances you teach makes a heck of a lot of difference. Klein doesn't care about those things anyway. What constitutes "best" for this chancellor is just plain cheap, malleable, and decidedly untenured.

I never thought I'd end spend the last years of my professional life working for such a bottom-feeder.

Dear Colleagues,

Earlier today, Mayor Bloomberg announced that no teachers will be laid off for the coming school year. Given vast proposed reductions in education funding from the state, we were on course as recently as last week to have to lay off 4,400 teachers citywide.

While the state legislature has been unable to pass a budget for this year, the Governor’s proposal would send $500 million less to New York City schools than last year. On top of those cuts, we have increasing costs—like pensions—that actually leave us short by more than $750 million.

In order to save the jobs of thousands of teachers, the Mayor determined that UFT and CSA members will have to forego two percent salary increases for the next two years. This move will save the City $400 million and, as a result, allow us to avoid laying off a single teacher for the coming school year. The Department’s central staff will not receive any similar increases.

I know that giving up raises is not easy. You and your families are facing tough times too. But I believe tough times also call for shared sacrifice. Last year, school budgets were cut by 4.9 percent, and this year they will be cut by another four percent. Central administrative budgets have been cut by nearly 20 percent in the past two years, including a reduction of nearly 550 staff positions. Next year, Central offices will take an additional cut of nearly $40 million with another five percent cut in positions.

Moreover, we still expect to lose at least 2,000 teachers next year through attrition because we simply won’t be able to afford to fill every vacancy.

I believe deeply that as educators of our children, your work is securing the future of our City. We simply cannot do without 4,400 of our teachers. You and your principals are making a significant sacrifice, and I appreciate your commitment. I look forward to working together to get our schools and our students through these tough times.

While avoiding layoffs goes a long way toward protecting our schools from the worst effects of the state’s insufficient funding, it doesn’t solve all of our budget problems. We still face a huge deficit, which compels us to find savings in our schools. And because we don’t know what the future holds, I will continue to fight for a more rational layoff system that allows us to protect our best teachers no matter how long they’ve been in our system.

Yet at a time when the City—indeed, the entire country—is being forced to make do with less, this plan allows us to retain what’s most important to our students: the resourceful, inspiring, hard-working teachers who are making a real difference in their lives.


Joel I. Klein


  1. How many DOE staffers was he considering laying off?

  2. Good question.
    But you know what else: how many times have you heard people in supervisory positions move from one "structure" within his perpetually reorganized staff configurations to another? They seem to hop from one job to another. It's easy to mask what you're doing when you keep reorganizing.