First They Lose to the Red Sox, Now the Teachers' Union?

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Word on the street is that if New York’s teacher union negotiations were a game of chicken, Mike Bloomberg would be zooming off the road as fast as his souped-up Mustang could carry him.

All rumors point toward the mayor making a major retreat from teacher quality reform as he nears the end of contract negotiations with Randi Weingarten, the powerful head of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) of New York City.

Since taking office, Bloomberg has been vowing to produce a better union agreement from a management perspective, including making it easier to fire poorly performing teachers, getting rid of the importance of seniority in teaching assignments, and reforming the pay system to include merit-pay and shortage-area incentives.

Observers are claiming that Bloomberg has begun to view his earlier commitments to a more manager friendly contract as political suicide. After all, the UFT is a power to be reckoned with in New York City, and Weingarten staunchly opposes every one of the reforms.

Someone who hasn't blinked is New York City councilwoman and NCTQ Advisory Board member Eva Moskowitz, who earlier this week sent a strongly worded letter to the mayor admonishing him “to stand strong??? in the negotiations She wrote: “Now is the time to hold firm against pilot programs and incremental changes. Those are merely window dressing and the illusion of progress… You have the power to wield those resources through Mayoral control. But, without changing the work rules, you will not be able to complete that task, and I fear that if you do not fix the teachers’ contract, no Mayor in our lifetime will….???

In response, Bloomberg threw a few political jabs, but then defended himself by saying, “Look, we are not going to sacrifice reform for political expediency. I can’t imagine anybody that knows me after all the three years in office that thinks that I would ever do that.??? At any rate, his engine is idling.