NYC
03/18/2011 10:16 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Majority Of New Yorkers Say Teacher Layoffs Should Be Based On Performance: Poll

Mayor Bloomberg's campaign to end the controversial "last in, first out" teacher layoff policy could be buoyed by a new poll.

A recent Quinnipiac poll found that 78 percent of New York City voters believe teacher layoffs should be based on performance.

Perhaps more surprising, poll results show 63 percent of voters in union households think layoffs should be based on merit, not "last in, first out."

Bloomberg's office doesn't think Gov. Cuomo is pushing hard enough to change the rule.

Cuomo asserts that he wants to help the mayor figure out a replacement in the "short term" for the policy, under which less experienced teachers are laid off before educators with seniority.

The governor made the same pledge earlier this month, after initially blindsiding Bloomberg by saying he would not support an immediate end to the rule.

"Short term, New York City says they have an immediate problem," Cuomo said. "Because of fiscal pressures, they're going to have to lay off teachers, and they want to make sure they lay off teachers [in a way that does] the least damage to the education system. We all understand that."

But Bloomberg's education advisers said Cuomo wants to make sure the United Federation of Teachers has a say in any new legislation that lays off teachers based on merit. That means, according to the mayor's advisers, a change in the rule would be blocked by the union.

Department of Education spokeswoman, Natalie Ravitz, insists the governor does not need to go through the union to change the rule.

The problem with ending the "last in, first out" rule, proponents of the policy say, is that layoffs based on "performance" could be subject to the arbitrary decisions of administrators. They also argue that supposedly objective measures for performance, like test scores, are unreliable.

Bloomberg has said that if "last in, first out" is not repealed, the city will have to cut 6,000 teachers under Cuomo's proposed budget.