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CUNY-IBM To Open Unique School In NYC

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NEW YORK — The City University of New York and IBM will open a unique school that merges high school with two years of college, allowing students to earn an associate's degree, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday in announcing a series of ambitious educational initiatives.

Those students will be "first in line for a job at IBM," Bloomberg said in his announcement.

The mayor also renewed a proposal to do away with automatic teacher tenure and instead ensure it's linked to classroom performance. He also said the city would work with the state to end "seat time" – requiring students to spend a certain number of hours in desks learning every subject – and would try to change a state law that requires schools to buy printed textbooks rather than use digital content.

"That may be good for the business textbook industry but it's really a bad deal for our students in this day and age," Bloomberg said.

The mayor also said the city will use a $36 million federal grant to enlist highly skilled teachers to work in low-performing schools and mentor fellow instructors.

"New York City is ... laying the foundation to ensure that every child who graduates high school is ready to start college or a career," Bloomberg said.

The mayor said the city wants to use a four-tier rating system to determine whether a teacher gets tenure, and said that beginning this year, only teachers rated "effective" or "highly effective" will be awarded lifetime job protection. Tenure would be awarded only if a teacher has made an impact on student achievement, he said.

"Just as we are raising the bar for our students through higher standards, we must also raise the bar for our teaches and principals – and we are," the mayor said.

Bloomberg has proposed ending automatic teacher tenure in recent years. The state Legislature amended the law earlier this year to add student test scores and performance as criteria in evaluating teachers. Tenured teachers can be dismissed for incompetence or insubordination under the law but have due process rights.

"If the mayor wants to change seniority he will need to talk to the Legislature," said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, the city teachers' union. Mulgrew said that tenure decisions are arbitrary. "Most teachers would welcome an objective tenure-granting process based on agreed-upon standards," he said.

The partnership with IBM for a high school-college hybrid will build on work that the company is already doing in community colleges, said Stan Litow, vice president of corporate affairs for IBM.

"We have every confidence that large numbers of those kids would be able to assume entry-level jobs at IBM and other IT companies," Litow said.

Earlier Monday, Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker said about $40 million has been raised so far to match the $100 million donation to the city's school system from Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Booker appeared in Manhattan with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Zuckerberg at NBC News' "Education Nation" Summit.