Recchia Questions Cost Of Mayor’s Education Plan

At his State of the City address on Jan. 12, Mayor Bloomberg announced several measures that were seen as targeting the Teachers Union. (Photo Credit: City & State via PBS)

In Mayor Bloomberg’s State of the City speech last Thursday, the mayor touted a plan for the City Department of Education that would include $20,000 bonuses for teachers rated “highly effective” for two years in a row, and pink slips for up to half the teachers at 33 struggling schools.

According to website City and State, it was precisely the kind of education initiative that reformers love and the teachers union loves to hate.

The normal critique of good teacher/bad teacher programs like these is that the city is essentially punishing teachers in bad schools with a lack of leadership, institutions often located in poor neighborhoods. Union officials and teachers cite bad parenting, broken homes and crime-infested streets as examples of issues effecting their students’ lives that are simply beyond the school’s control. Opponents of these types of reforms will also point to an overemphasis on standardized testing that, according to its critics, has gotten so out of control that test preparation regularly eats into valuable classroom time that should be spent covering curriculum.

City Council Finance Chairman Domenic Recchia had his own point of contention for Bloomberg’s plan: Who’s will pay for all those 20K bonuses, plus a separate program which would pay up to $25,000 worth of student loans for new teachers?

“Some of the programs he was talking about today are very costly,” Recchia told City and State, “I don’t know where he’s getting the money. I spoke to the chief operating officer of the [Department of Education]. I asked her if she has, how are they going to pay for this. They have money socked away somewhere?”

When reporters asked him about her answer, Recchia told them that her reply was, “We have to talk.”