Bloomberg’s Proposal Benefits Deserving Teachers


Students suffer and lose interest in their studies if teachers have no incentive to make their classes worthwhile. (Photo illustration by Charlie Puente/The Observer)


Students suffer and lose interest in their studies if teachers have no incentive to make their classes worthwhile. (Photo illustration by Charlie Puente/The Observer)

The day that I figured out Britney Spears made more money than my fourth grade teacher was a sad day for me. Although I like Britney Spears, I just suddenly pictured Mrs. Spitvak smiling down upon me and my fellow students, trying desperately to get us excited about math. The amount of work and dedication that woman put into teaching us was far greater than any dedication Britney put into dancing around in her school girl outfit. Mrs. Spitvak might not have pulled off a mini-skirt quite as well as Britney, but she was a great teacher who deserved more than the salary given to her. It was then I realized the incredible inequality that teachers face in America.

My point is not to undermine celebrities but to emphasis how ridiculous it is that teachers aren’t paid what they are truly worth. According to a recent Harvard study, “The Long Term Impact of Teachers,” students who have high-valued teachers (those who consistently improve their students’ learning abilities) are more likely to extend their education further—such as attend college and then go on to earn higher incomes. The study specifically highlights how important it is for a child to have a good teacher, starting as early as the fourth grade.

The outcome of the study isn’t surprising to me; great teachers help influence the children of the future. They have the ability to change any flaw in society starting from the bottom up. They are ultimately the true job creators of this nation.

Education in this country has been unraveling for a couple of years, and it’s now at a level that many call embarrassing. It’s an appropriate time to take a step back and re-evaluate our educational system. (It surprises me that the Republican campaigns have yet to touch on their plans to help national education.)

Mayor Bloomberg recently focused on New York education during his State of the City address. There are several problems with the city’s public education, such as overcrowded classrooms and the quality of the education public students receive. He listed several different proposals to enhance education in the city. Putting aside all other views I have on Bloomberg as a mayor, I support his initiative for a merit-pay system.

He proposes awarding top teachers with $20,000 pay increases and offering to pay off student loans up to $25,000 for top college graduates who choose to teach in city schools. This proposal does come with many down sides though: one of them being that he has to cut out the teachers that are deemed “not effective.” It has obviously been criticized by the United Federation of Teachers.

According to the New York Times article “Mayor Takes on Teachers’ Union in School Plan,” the Union’s president, Michael Mulgrew, said that the mayor was living in a “fantasy education world,” and ultimately believed that such proposals would never be approved. Governor Andrew Cuomo, on the other hand, was very excited to work with Bloomberg on these initiatives. Bloomberg seems to be responding directly to the study shown in Harvard by weeding out the poor teachers so there are more “high-valued” teachers.

There is an uncertainty that comes with a plan that wills to fire plenty of teachers. How will they appropriately evaluate the teachers?  I agree that there are different teachers with different teaching methods and students respond differently to each individual teacher. One kid might find his fourth grade teacher engaging and intelligent while another kid in the class struggles to catch up with what she’s saying. There is, however, a point he has in evaluating teachers. Teaching should be a competitive career option to get into.

There is a foolish saying that goes “those who can’t do, teach.” This saying is absolutely false in every sense, but the teachers who are not passionate about their career maybe have reason to be evaluated. I once had a chemistry teacher in high school who obviously hated her job and told us everyday how much she hated teaching. I didn’t learn anything in that class. The Harvard study shows that great teachers are able to get their students more involved in education. The merit-pay system he’s proposing should be applauded.

Maybe some people think that the $20,000 bonus is something that will give teachers more of an initiative to work harder and provide better test scores. I believe that the bonus just rewards teachers who are simply providing children with a future and a good education. They deserve a higher salary and they always have.

Initiatives like this pave the way for more talk about education and social values in this country. So maybe instead of Britney Spears having a gross amount of income, teachers will earn the money they deserve as they continue to improve the children and future of America.