A staggering 85 percent of New Yorkers favor empowering school administrators to choose merit over tenure when firing teachers, bolstering Mayor Bloomberg's dogged fight to ditch the union-backed "last in, first out" protections, according to a new poll.Gee, now what could have possibly caused this dramatic shift in public opinion. Could it be the increasing belligerence and militancy of the unions? Could it be the public sees they're basically an arm of the Democratic Party? Could it be we see billions poured into education with increasingly poor results? All of the above?
The statewide Quinnipiac University survey, released today, found voters prefer performance over seniority -- 85 percent to 12 percent -- as the principle measure to determine which teachers to lay off during budget cuts.
The margin was the same across gender, geographical and party lines.
"By a huge majority, voters from every group oppose LIFO," said Quinnipiac pollster Maurice Carroll.
"Voters, especially voters with kids in public school, want to keep the best teachers on the job -- and to heck with seniority."
Surprisingly, the poll found 75 percent of voters in households with union members support using merit and performance in determining layoffs of teachers rather than seniority. Only 20 percent of those voters questioned favored the seniority-based protections.
In general, New York state residents believe that it should be easier to fire public-school teachers, 62 percent to 33 percent.
At the same time, the support for rewarding "outstanding" educators with pay hikes is backed 64 percent to 33 percent.
The poll found widely divergent views on individual teachers and the powerful unions that represent their interests in the halls of government and across the bargaining table.
Some 50 percent of New Yorkers report favorable opinions about the state's public-school teachers, compared to 22 percent who had unfavorable views.
However, 51 percent say teachers unions, like the city's 164,000-member United Federation of Teachers, play a "negative" role in the state's education system. Some 39 percent believe the unions have a positive impact.
That's a dramatic shift from the last time Quinnipiac asked that question in 2004. At that time, New Yorkers said teachers unions had a positive role, 48 percent to 35 percent.
I've got my differences with Michael Bloomberg. This sure isn't one of them.
Meanwhile, a state senator introduced a bill Wednesday night designed to end, or at least modify, LIFO.
It'll be curious to see whether the White House unleashes their union shock troops on Michael Bloomburg any time soon. I realize they're now tied up on several fronts in the midwest and it may take time to ship the goons back east.
Rather than wage war on the public in this time of fiscal crisis, the sooner the Democrats and the union partners realize they're fighting a losing battle against public sentiment. Maybe then we can begin addressing why confiscating money from union members to support the Democratic Party is now just unfair, but downright contemptible. They'll fight this one to their last drop of blood. Once the union spigot is cut off, their party withers on the vine.
Is it any wonder why Obama has poured more effort into the Wisconsin temper tantrum than he has into monitoring developments in Libya? Or is it Lybia?