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How will the mayor's layoff plan affect schools? We don't know

The night before a vote on Mayor Bloomberg’s favored bill to change how teachers are laid off, reporters were sent a detailed list of how many teachers each school stood to lose if the union got its way. The list gave lawmakers ammunition to back the mayor’s plan and it terrified teachers who could be affected.

But when it comes to the mayor’s own layoff strategy, the city has so far left it unexamined.

The bill the mayor supports would lay off teachers not by seniority — as the current law does. Instead, it creates nine categories of teachers who would be laid off before their peers. Among them are teachers who have been given “unsatisfactory” ratings by their principals, had too many unexcused absences, or been without a full-time teaching position for over six months.

The Department of Education has not released a similar school-by-school breakdown showing what effect the mayor’s plan would have.

In response to a request for this analysis made a week ago, a DOE spokeswoman said: “We don’t have it immediately available.”

The city’s big caveat here is that the mayor’s plan would lay off the worst teachers, regardless of where they work and who they teach. But officials have yet to explain how this would change the make-up of the city’s teachers, whether it would actually affect those with more seniority (as the union alleges), and what it would do to schools’ stability.

The DOE did release data on how many teachers fall into each of these nine categories. So while we know that there are 2,671 teachers who’ve gotten “unsatisfactory” ratings in the last five years, we don’t know what parts of the city they work in, what types of schools, how many years they’ve been working, or how much money they make.

We also know there are 1,149 DOE salaried employees without full-time teaching jobs, 291 who’ve been fined or suspended without pay in the last five years, and 1,593 whose effectiveness ratings put them in the bottom 30 percent of teachers. But again, we don’t know anything about how their loss would affect schools and certain neighborhoods.

City officials have argued that seniority-based layoffs would decimate schools in poorer neighborhoods, which tend to hire less-experienced teachers. The same could be true of the mayor’s plan, but so far, it’s impossible to know.

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