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UFT Fires Back At Bloomberg Over Teacher Evaluations

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg is looking to close and reopen 33 city schools in an effort to purge the system of more than 1,500 underperforming teachers, and the proposal has inspired sharp backlash from the United Federation of Teachers. NY1’s Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is insisting that he'll move forward with a radical proposal to remove more than 1,500 teachers from 33 of the city's most troubled schools.

The United Federation of Teachers is prepared to go to court to stop him.

“We will be taking appropriate legal action,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the UFT.

The 33 schools have been labeled persistently low-achieving by the state, which makes them eligible for millions in federal funds. To get that money, the city and union had to agree on new teacher evaluations by January 1. They didn't.

So Bloomberg is going with a different and unprecedented approach in an attempt to qualify for the money. He wants to replace half of the teachers at each school, and he said he doesn't need the union's approval.

“We’re not going to allow ineffective teachers to remain in those 33 schools or in any school,” said Bloomberg.

His plan is to close all 33 of the schools in June, rename them and reopen them in September in the same buildings with the same students. However, teachers would have to reapply for their jobs and no more than half would be rehired.

In a letter to parents, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott blamed the union for the failure to reach a deal and explained that the city would be pursuing this new "aggressive" strategy instead.

Teachers told NY1 they’re worried.

“A definite pattern to the older teachers in the schools getting cut, and I just hit 60 and I’m really not too sure that they would not cut me even though I am in a wheelchair,” said Keith Sacher, a Long Island City High School Teacher.

“We don’t like it, of course. We are very upset by it. We don’t think that teachers are to blame,” said Orna Eyal, a Lehman High School teacher.

On Friday afternoon, the teachers union fired back, calling on the state's Public Employment Relations Board to force the mayor back to the table over the evaluations with a state-appointed mediator.

“He's trying to start a fight with the United Federation of Teachers rather than negotiate with us on an evaluation system so that all children will be helped more,” said Mulgrew.

Walcott called the union's press conference a PR-stunt.

If the city is going to try to close and reopen the 33 schools, it will have to begin the process immediately, meaning that there will be nearly 60 schools on the chopping block this year, three times the previous record.

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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