According to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week, New York City residents trust the teacher’s union more than Mayor Michael Bloomberg when it comes to education issues. This is despite significant support for some of the ideas the mayor proposed during last month’s State of the City address.
Fifty-six percent of those polled said they trusted the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) to “protect the interests” of kids in public schools, while less than a third gave the nod to the mayor. While they approved of many of his potential policies, over 60 percent of those polled didn’t like how Bloomberg approached public school problems.
Residents endorsed the overall idea of merit-based pay for good teachers while making it easier to lay off bad ones. “They’d resurrect Bloomberg’s plan, which went nowhere last year, to make merit-not longevity (tenure)-the test when teachers have to be laid off,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a bonus for new teachers to help pay off their student loans and $20,000 extra pay for those doing a good job, and voters agree with both ideas.”
“Voters like the message, they just don’t like the messenger,” said Carroll.
According to Quinnipiac, 71 percent of those polled believe in merit-based pay for school teachers, 81 percent believe school teachers should be laid off based on performance and not seniority, 82 percent support paying up to $25,000 in student loans to attract good teachers and 54 percent said that it should be easier to fire teachers.
Although he was happy over the support for his policies, Bloomberg wasn’t a fan of the overall result of Quinnipiac’s poll. “Somebody goes and runs a bunch of ads every day on television-you can create exactly that poll. I guess I could go spend some money and reverse the poll,” Bloomberg said last week, referencing the recent anti-Bloomberg ads by the UFT that have run on local television. He also said lot of the answers to poll questions depends on how the questions are asked.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew sang a different tune. “I want to thank millions of public school parents and other New Yorkers who have given their teachers such a vote of confidence,” said Mulgrew. “Despite years of ugly rhetoric about teachers and their union from the mayor and his allies, New Yorkers came down overwhelmingly on the side of those who go into schools every day and work hard to make children’s lives better.”