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State Of The City Address Underscores Tension Between City, Teachers Union

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The most controversial aspects of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's State of the City address Thursday were likely the strong proposals for education, provoking some strong words from elected officials and the United Federation of Teachers, but the mayor says he won't let that slow him down. NY1’s Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg made it very clear Thursday: he's still determined to be the education mayor.

Coming out of a disappointing year when test scores stagnated and Chancellor Cathie Black bombed, the mayor introduced a series of ambitious next steps in his school reform efforts.

“We are setting off for the summit, a summit that no other big city in America has ever reached,” said Bloomberg.

To recruit new talent, the mayor said the city will pay back $25,000 worth of student loans, but only for new teachers who graduate at the top of their college class.

To keep good teachers, he wants to give them a $20,000 raise after two years of being rated “highly effective”

However, the teachers union has to approve any rating system, and the city and union admit they've reached an impasse in negotiations.

And even if there were a new system, union representatives say they would not agree to pay those teachers more.

“I think the mayor is living in a fantasy world in terms of his education speech,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.

But Bloomberg signaled he's not going to wait around for the union to agree anymore.

He said the city is now moving forward on its own on a new plan to get federal dollars for 33 struggling schools, a plan that could cost half the teachers at each school their jobs.

“The best teachers stay, the least effective go, and now, that is exactly what will happen,” said Bloomberg.

“It's basically teacher bashing,” said Mulgrew.

The battles over education policy and the mayor's track record came up even in regards to the location of the speech. Bloomberg said Gouverneur Morris High School illustrates the success of one of his signature initiatives: breaking up the big Morris high school with a 27 percent graduation rate into five small schools averaging about a 60 percent grad rate.

But critics say the building now serves fewer students with special needs, and DOE data shows very few of the graduates are actually prepared for college.

Bloomberg, though, is not slowing down on those points. He has new plans to get more kids to college and create more small schools: 100 more over the next two years, half of them charters.

Low-Achieving Schools

The following 33 schools are slated to be closed and re-opened by the Department of Education under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to remove more than 1,500 under-performing teachers.

Bronx (10 schools):
• Herbert H Lehman High School
• Banana Kelly High School
• JHS 22 Jordan L Mott (middle school)
• IS 339 (middle school)
• MS 391 (middle school)
• Bronx High School of Business
• JHS 80 Mosholu Parkway (middle school)
• Alfred E Smith Career-Tech High School
• Fordham Leadership Academy (high school)
• JHS 142 John Philip Sousa (middle school)

Brooklyn (12 schools):
• John Ericsson Middle School 126
• School for Global Studies (middle school and high school)
• Cobble Hill School of American Studies (high school)
• Franklin D Roosevelt High School
• William E Grady Vocational High School
• Automotive High School
• IS 136 Charles O Dewey (middle school)
• JHS 166 George Gershwin (middle school)
• John Dewey High School
• Sheepshead Bay High School
• Bushwick Comm High School
• W H Maxwell Career and Tech High School

Queens (8 schools):
• Flushing High School
• William Cullen Bryant High School
• Long Island City High School
• Newtown High School
• Grover Cleveland High School
• August Martin High School
• Richmond Hill High School
• John Adams High School

Manhattan (3 schools):
• Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School
• High School of Graphic Communication Arts
• Harlem Renaissance High School

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