NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Four Hours a Day Teaching is All New York City Union Contracts Allow

March 26, 2004

In an effort to reform New York City schools, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has streamlined their organizational structure, implemented a new curriculum, and pushed for new leadership among school principals. However, according to New York Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, school operations are still being micro-managed by the rules and regulations of hundreds of pages of union contracts. For example:

  • Payment for teachers is based on length of service and not performance, and it is virtually impossible to remove incompetent teachers in a timely fashion.
  • Inexperienced teachers are disproportionately assigned to the most challenging schools and classes.
  • Middle and high school teachers may not be scheduled to teach more than 3.75 hours a day.
  • Contracts for custodians are highly restrictive -- in many cases without any reasonable justification.

Klein says nobody wants to claim authorship for these work rules which, ultimately, create a system in which there is no employee accountability, no meritocracy, and no incentive to take risks or innovate. He adds that at least half of the city's public school students are not getting a basic education.

Source: George A. Clowes, "New Yorkers Give Schools Mediocre Grade," Heartland Institute, January 2004.


Browse more articles on Education Issues