01/31/2011 09:54 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg Slams Seniority, In Talks To Fire 'Nonteaching Teachers'

Seniority might not save poorly performing New York City teachers from getting axed.

With substantial teacher layoffs seeming inevitable, the Bloomberg administration is looking for ways to get rid of "nonteaching" educators.

From the New York Post:

The plan, being discussed at the highest levels of the Legislature and with aides to Bloomberg, would grant the mayor the right to fire between 2,000 to 4,000 nonclassroom teachers -- including all those who formerly languished in the notorious "rubber room" under disciplinary charges.

The plan would also target members of the "absent teacher reserve pool" -- which includes nonworking but on-the-payroll teachers from schools that have been shut down because of poor performance -- and teachers assigned only to "administrative functions," sources said.

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg warned that, if the state cuts education funding, which it more than likely will, significant teacher layoffs are inevitable. As many as 10 to 20 percent of the city's public school teachers could be let go. Bloomberg has criticized the state law that uses the "first hired, first fired" rule when determining who gets laid off.

"I say enough with Albany rules," Bloomberg said. "You just cannot do this. If the governor's budget contains education cuts, it must also contain changes to the law so that we can take merit into account when making these difficult decisions. It must allow us to keep our best teachers."

He warned it was "conceivable" the city would have to lay off "nearly every teacher hired in the last five years -- the ones who are the very future of our school system. This is serious."

The Mayor's comments set up the first confrontation between Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo and Senate Republicans have signaled they're open to the idea. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has not opined on the subject.

In an interview with the Sunday Times of London, former schools Chancellor Joel Klein made the point that, "It's easier to prosecute a capital-punishment case in the US than terminate an incompetent teacher. Five to 10 percent are not remotely capable."

UPDATE: A source in the Cuomo administration said a repeal of the teacher-seniority layoff policy will not be included in the governor's proposed budget.

"'Last hired, first fired' won't be addressed in the governor's budget because it's not a state budget matter," the source said.

But the source also said they doubted that any reduction in state funding for education would result in New York City teacher layoffs. They also said, if layoffs are necessary, Cuomo is willing to discuss a new personnel policy "based on professional performance review and standards that will utilize fair and objective criteria to make such determinations."