It’s throwdown time in New York again. Elizabeth Green has the goods along with Jennifer Medina at The Times. Primary source you must read: The long rumored The New Teacher Project report (pdf) on excessed teachers (meaning those that no school wants to hire who are in what is formally referred to as the “Absent Teacher Reserve” pool) is now on the street. The big takeaway is that this is, right now, about a $40 million annual problem. And even in Gotham that’s a lot of clams.
This is the problem that everyone knew was coming. During the last round of contract negotiations a “mutual consent” provision was instituted that basically curtailed what is known as bumping or seniority provisions and meant that schools had to want the teachers who were teaching there rather than teachers being able to unilaterally insert themselves in a school. It’s a good reform but it does mean that there is a pool of teachers who can’t find jobs. But, as the TNTP analysis shows, this is not a problem of great teachers caught in an unfair system but rather a system that seems to be introducing a healthy level of talent sensitivity into hiring.
But, while the mayor and the chancellor have the data on their side (as they did with the process that led to mutual consent in the first place) the politics here are awful. That’s because UFT President Randi Weingarten is poised to become head of the American Federation of Teachers. She’s blown hot and cold on reform lately. The teacher evaluation provisions recently put into the New York code are a disaster but she’s also championed a pay for performance pilot and opened some charter schools and invited Green Dot Public Schools into the city. Just yesterday at a panel at the Milken Global Institute annual forum philanthropist Eli Broad said she could be the “second coming” of Al Shanker. But she has to be careful not to be seen as presiding over a mass firing of teachers a few months from her election or, conversely, damaging her public brand as a reformer by digging in on an issue where the evidence simply does not support a hard line position at all. That’s why there needs to be a deal. TNTP has put some fair ideas on the table that hopefully, after the theater that is par for the course with this stuff is over, will be a way through.