Mayor Michael Bloomberg focused on improvements to the city’s school system, including the removal of under-performing teachers, in his 11th State of the City address Thursday.
In his speech, the mayor laid out a five-step plan for enhancing city schools that includes giving raises to highly-rated teachers and paying off their college loans, firing “ineffective” teachers, opening new charter schools, improving college and career preparation courses and making financial aid more available.
“By almost any measure, students are doing better and our school system is heading in the right direction,” Bloomberg said during his speech at the Bronx’s Morris High School. “Of course, we still have a long way to go. No doubt about that. The education reforms we’ve pioneered over the past decade – no matter what the naysayers say – have been widely adopted by school systems across the nation. But this year, we’ll be putting our foot on the gas and picking up the pace.”
The mayor said he believed the city would attract new teachers to its schools by offering to pay their college loans and raising salaries by $20,000 per year for instructors who are rated “highly effective” for two consecutive years.
He also vowed that teachers who are consistently given low ratings would be fired.
“This year, we’ll do more to make sure every classroom has an effective teacher and to remove those who don’t make the grade,” he said. “We need to be able to identify those ineffective teachers and give them the support they need to grow. And if that doesn’t work, we need to be able to move them out.”
The mayor said he could remove up to half of the teachers at failing city schools that are in danger of losing nearly $60 million in federal funds if an agreement is not reached with the United Federation of Teachers on evaluations.
Bloomberg touted the creation of charter schools and said the Department of Education would phase out 25 city schools and open smaller ones in their buildings in 2012. A total 100 new schools, including 50 charters, will be opened during the next two years, the mayor said.
During his speech, Bloomberg cited a plan to create a , the passage of the state Legislature’s , balancing the city’s budget and opening the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero in time for the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks as 2011’s triumphs.