Mayor Bloomberg recently announced an imaginary deal to prevent thousands of teacher layoffs.
But the teachers have agreed to no pay freeze and the mayor does not have the unilateral power to decide the teachers contract.
What part of “no” doesn’t the city understand? “No” is a firm, not a fluid, concept and is elusive to those who can impose their imperial will. Mercifully, the mayor and the chancellor cannot.
Chancellor Klein said that the prospect of layoffs was his “greatest fear” and had kept him up at night until the “enormous relief” of their cancellation. Give us a break from this end-stage chutzpah! Don’t trust the chancellor, especially when he professes righteous anguish.
The city wants to pit junior against senior teachers. He favors newer teachers whom he falsely thinks are converts to his discredited “reformist” philosophy and as such will play into his hands as a union-buster.
He is frustrated and maddened that he cannot liquidate job security by decree and is forced to abide by the rule of law.
If principals had the power to pick and choose who they would like to lay off, regardless of their seniority, as the mayor and chancellor have proposed, you could bet all your worldly possessions that the layoffs would have gone forward fast and furious.
The chancellor can impersonate the role of defender of teachers and try to insinuate that lie into the consciousness of new teachers, but practically all of them have already discovered that he is their nemesis and the union is their champion as well as the defender of the rights of parents and their children.
The mayor’s public statement about the elimination of layoffs in exchange for wage freezes was calculated to sound high-minded and sensible. Of course its message was far more sinister and subliminal. If I were a propagandist for the DOE, I would put it this way and then commit hari-kari in remorse:
“The budget crisis is severe and sacrifices must be made to forestall the collapse of our infrastructure. The situation is grave and we are deeply anxious. Layoffs are a draconian option, but we would have no choice unless we froze pay raises for teachers. By sharing sacrifice in a spirit of responsibility, colleagues can support each other. This will show our common commitment to children and our recognition of the passion and creativity that our teachers bring to the classroom during these times when we are all excited about the great progress we have made together in recent years. But the teachers union is resisting this solution and refusing to hold out a lifeline for its own members, who are among our most motivated and successful instructors. The city stands behind all teachers, not just some.”
If you believe this spin, then I have a special continent to sell you if you call in the next 10 minutes. Just ask for “Atlantis.”
(Ron Isaac is a retired middle-school English teacher who taught in Flushing for 35 years.)