New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already run into his share of educational policy problems, like appointing Cathie Black, a former publishing executive with no professional education experience, as chancellor of the city’s public schools. That experiment failed, lasting just three months. And in an effort to balance the city’s budget without tax increases, he introduced a plan that cut 6,000 teaching jobs. That followed warnings that he may have to lay off 15,000 teachers a year after proposing a budget that sought 6,700 teacher layoffs.
But those cuts pale in comparison to what Bloomberg wants to do to the city’s educational workforce. Speaking at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bloomberg said his version of education reform would include firing half of the city’s teachers and doubling class sizes, CBS New York reports:
“Education is very much, I’ve always thought, just like the real estate business. Real estate business, there are three things that matter: location, location, location is the old joke,” Bloomberg said. “Well in education, it is: quality of teacher, quality of teacher, quality of teacher. And I would, if I had the ability – which nobody does really – to just design a system and say, ‘ex cathedra, this is what we’re going to do,’ you would cut the number of teachers in half, but you would double the compensation of them and you would weed out all the bad ones and just have good teachers. And double the class size with a better teacher is a good deal for the students.”
The size of Bloomberg’s ideal cut is astounding. The city of New York employs roughly 75,000 public school teachers — so if Bloomberg had his way, he would fire 37,500 of those, leaving the remaining 37,500 in charge of the city’s 1.1 million students. Doubling class size, meanwhile, would grow average class sizes in high school core subject areas (Math, Science, and English) to more than 50 students, according to data from the New York City Department of Education. According to the United Federation of Teachers, some class sizes would exceed 70 students.
None of that, however, seems to faze Bloomberg. “The best thing you can do is put the best teacher you can possibly find and afford in front of the classroom,” he said. “And if you have to have fewer because there’s only a certain number of dollars to go around, I’m in favor of that.”