Klein Responds

Education Commissioner Joel Klein called a few minutes ago to take issue with a Politicker source’s characterization of the teachers’ contract as a less sweeping change to the teachers’ work-rules than he had sought.

“It’s really a breakthrough,” he said of the contract. “There are three or four things in here that are really major changes, and people would never have predicted it.”

“For the first time, principals have absolute discretion to hire people in their buildings,” Klein said of ending seniority transfers and the practice of excess teachers inserting themselves into schools.

“We got rid of all that.”

He also said the contract “reverses” Circular 6R, which allowed teachers to skip things like lunchroom duty and hallway duty.

“This is a major undoing of a Giuliani contract provision,” he said.

Finally, he argued that the introduction of “master teachers,” who get $10,000 annual bonuses at the commissioner’s discretion, is something like merit pay.

“This is a way for me to pay teachers $10,000 more based on merit so they can go to high needs schools,” he said. “It’s not performance pay, but it is merit pay.”

I don’t know enough about this to arbitrate which side “won,” but it’s hard to argue that better-paid teachers and more flexible rules won’t be good for the schools. (Somebody will no doubt make this argument; I’m just saying it’s hard…) Klein Responds