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Lay Off, Mr. Chancellor!

In a letter, dated May 8, to school principals, Chancellor Klein laid out matters of budget and The New I-Zone.

Most incriminating of the motives and mindset of its malicious author, was the part bemoaning the current seniority for the layoff system.

That “last hired, first fired” principle has thrived for generations throughout the city, state and federal civil service system. It has of late been under all-out siege nationwide, especially against members of teacher unions. You don’t hear or read of it with respect to police officers, members of Congress, et al.

Chancellor Klein would like all principals, including those who never or hardly ever taught and whose expertise is based on a quickie leadership course and/or social networking skills or a fortuitous DNA link, to exercise life and death control over the careers of all educators, including those whose mastery and experience infinitely exceeds theirs.

The chancellor is too shrewd to flatly state that he favors giving principals the power to lay off anyone they want at any time for any reason. Of course he says that criteria would need to be established (he cites, for example, the foggy factor of “contribution to school community,” whatever that means.)

A principal’s tongue and pen would need to go through the motions of articulating reasons for the axing, but this would just be a “cover” because principals would be acting, if Klein had his druthers, in keeping with their divine right as CEOs. They could fall back, for what they would deem good measure, on a DOE issued template for delivering bad news to star-crossed  (and supervisor-crossed) teachers.

Maybe that manual is already being prepared by one of the DOE’s new brigade of new deputy chancellors. Or perhaps the folks who did the Teacher Performance Unit playbook would get the job.

In his public statements, the chancellor douses his infective agenda with the antiseptic of phony justifications. He’ll trot out diversionary buzz phrases, sickeningly sweet in their irony, (like “We must put children first”) as he prosecutes his devious campaign of union-busting.

Chancellor Klein says, in effect, that he savors the thought of all U-rated teachers and ATRs losing their jobs first and laments that according to the number of layoffs currently projected, most of the elementary school teachers hired since the fall of 2007 would be sacrificed instead.

By seeming to champion junior teachers and depicting the union as the defender of a system that victimizes them, the chancellor is trying to sew dissension and insinuate his false message into the consciousness of a large segment of union members as well as the general public.

The chancellor has been a trafficker in misperceptions for the entirety of his occupation of Tweed. But most rookie teachers don’t trust being taken under his dirty wing.

They know that as a firewall against patronage, nepotism, blackmail and other forms of exploitation, the rule of seniority has been a cornerstone of the civil service in most of the industrialized world for most of modern history.  We all benefit from it sooner or later in one way or other.

In his letter, Chancellor Klein soothes principals with the assurance that his “Human Resources team will be working through the layoff process.”

What he means, of course, is that the DOE will fight tooth and nail to capsize the ship of civil service law.

But educators, regardless of their place on the seniority list, will not be split and entrapped by the chancellor and his wily appeal for an alliance. They have too much self-respect, grip on reality and knowledge of history to be suckered as pawns in the chancellor’s game of chess.



  • 1 Richard Skibins
    · May 15, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Maybe Albany should oversee the layoff process.

  • 2 Phyllis C. Murray
    · May 16, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Why is the age old tradition of “Last Hired, First Fired” being challenged today? It is ironic that at this juncture, the jobs saved by offering a new set of rules will not be the jobs of minority teachers. For the first time in the history of the New York City Board of Education, the jobs saved will be those of the corps of newly hired who are in the majoritry.

    Sam Anderson states the following: “The Bloomberg-Klein approach to teacher recruitment is to hire “far and white.” That is, go outside of New York City and emphasize recruiting white teachers over Black/Latino teachers. They have spent tens of millions of dollars making teaching in NYC schools a palatable and hip thing for white folks to do.

    Anderson continues: “We know this to be the case by just looking at the stats of new hires during Bloomberg’s reign: from 61% up to 65% for white new hires while Black new hires went from 20.1% down to 14.1%.. Today’s DOE new hires are more skewed towards white teachers than 10 years ago! This is clearly a reflection of the mindset of the top DOE officials who surround themselves in Tweed with white professionals and Black & Latino supportive staff (from security to low-mid level administrative staff). In addition, this high level staff is dominated by non-educators… from Klein on down to the mid-level corporate-like structures overseeing the actual nuts and bolts of the schooling process.”

    Let’s revisit the data on teacher employment.

    Ethnicity of New Hires* by School Year: 1990-91 through 2005-06
    School Year: Ethnicity
    Amer. Indian Asian Black Hisp White Unknown
    1990-91 0.3% 3.2% 16.0% 11.9% 49.5% 19.1%
    1991-92 0.1% 3.2% 16.0% 15.3% 58.4% 6.9%
    1992-93 0.3% 2.9% 17.9% 15.1% 59.6% 4.2%
    1993-94 0.4% 3.1% 18.4% 13.9% 59.6% 4.5%
    1994-95 0.3% 3.2% 23.4% 18.4% 53.9% 0.8%
    1995-96 0.3% 3.1% 22.9% 18.4% 54.1% 1.3%
    1996-97 0.3% 3.4% 19.0% 14.4% 60.3% 2.6%
    1997-98 0.4% 3.8% 20.1% 15.3% 56.7% 3.7%
    1998-99 0.2% 3.8% 22.1% 15.2% 57.5% 1.1%
    1999-00 0.2% 4.4% 24.8% 16.4% 53.8% 0.5%
    2000-01 0.2% 4.2% 25.5% 16.3% 53.3% 0.4%
    2001-02 0.2% 4.9% 27.2% 14.3% 53.3% 0.2%
    2002-03 0.2% 5.6% 20.1% 12.7% 61.1% 0.3%
    2003-04 0.2% 7.2% 16.7% 10.6% 65.0% 0.3%
    2004-05 0.2% 8.3% 16.0% 11.1% 63.3% 1.2%
    2005-06 0.3% 7.2% 14.5% 11.7% 65.0% 1.3%
    2006-07* 0.3% 6.1% 14.1% 11.7% 65.5% 2.3%
    *New Hires includes teachers who were hired between 8/25 through 10/31 of each year. ** Data on the 2006-07 New Hires is current as of 8.22.2006

    And if the business cycle continues to weaken in a recession we can look for ward to more opportunities for injustices as everyone looks out for their own kind . Yes Ron Isaac, ” patronage, nepotism, blackmail and other forms of exploitation,” can become the rule of the day.
    This is a sad day for education.

  • 3 quapper
    · May 17, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Divide and conquer. Oldest union busting trick in the world.

  • 4 A Teacher
    · May 17, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    I am glad to see a stronger stance about this bill from Edwize. This bill is not about what is best for the kids- it’s about money.

  • 5 jacob
    · May 19, 2010 at 9:33 am

    the difference between demographics in 1990 & 2006 can be almost entirely explained by the change in the % of teachers listed as “Unknown.” But nice try.

  • 6 Phyllis C. Murray
    · May 22, 2010 at 8:09 am

    “High-need subjects, including math, science, bilingual education, Spanish and special education are also consistently problematic areas for New York City. Fellows now make up 26 percent of all New York City math teachers; more than half of new math and special education hires each year are Fellows. About three quarters (76 percent) of the 2008 Fellows are working in the city’s highest-need subject areas.””From: The New Teacher Project: Our Impact/ NYC