Mayor Bill de Blasio Monday said he has made it his "personal crusade" to help the city attract and retain good teachers, echoing concerns posed by the United Federation of Teachers as it negotiates a new contract with his administration.
De Blasio highlighted the issue in a WNYC-FM interview, saying: "I'm going to make this a personal crusade that we really focus on attracting the best teachers, continuing to train them and keeping them in our school system," he said.
"Of all the things that could affect the future of education in our city, this is one of the most central," de Blasio said.
The 200,000-member UFT has been working under an expired contract since 2009. It is one of the largest of the approximately 150 bargaining units in the city clamoring for a collective $7 billion in retroactive raises, and so its contract terms may help set the stage for other union talks with the city.
UFT president Michael Mulgrew Monday would not detail what progress the UFT had made in contract negotiations with the city, but said the mayor's remarks are "a recognition that both sides are talking about a reality inside of the schools. That's quite refreshing.
"It is nice to actually have an administration that respects you and will listen to your concern," Mulgrew said.
Better salaries and working conditions are key to keeping city-trained teachers from fleeing to Long Island and other suburban areas, he said.
The mayor also further extended an olive branch to the charter schools with whom he's been at odds.
He acknowledged he could have better communicated the criteria used last month to decide that three Success Academy charters cannot share space with other schools in public buildings owned by the city.