Sink or swim

The party's over for members of New York City's teacher reserve pool. Chancellor Joel Klein and UFT President Randi Weingarten have reached a rather sensible accord that sounds likely to provide some long awaited answers to this question: Why are so many teachers in the reserve pool unable to land classroom jobs? Klein and Co. believe it's usually because nobody wants ‘em and most likely for good reason. Weingarten disagrees; nobody wants them, she insists, because the city now charges school budgets for teachers' salaries, and thus principals have incentives to skip over more experienced, expensive instructors for their younger, less expensive peers. It became apparent last spring, however, that teachers in the pool--who receive full pay and benefits--could remain in this cushy fully paid limbo indefinitely and the city was spending big bucks as a result. The solution gives some to both sides. Klein will encourage schools to hire reserve teachers via district policy and, more importantly, financial incentives. Score for the union. But Klein has also smartly maintained principal hiring autonomy; principals will not be forced to hire reserve teachers and those hired after November 1 will be on probation for the remainder of the year. An inferior performance can land them back in the pool come June. One thing's for sure: teachers who are still swimming in limbo come next year really do deserve the pink slip.

"A plan to hire the best teachers," Editorial, New York Times, November 27, 2008

"Finding Jobs for Teachers Already on City's Payroll," by Jennifer Medina, New York Times, November 18, 2008

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