Today’s news:

Mayor pushes merit pay for city teachers

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (r.) greets former Mayors Ed Koch (c.) and David Dinkins after delivering his State of the City address. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
TimesLedger Newspapers

Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed incentives, including merit pay, so the city can retain and recruit the best teachers during his State of the City address Thursday in the Bronx.

“The single most important factor in a student’s progress is the effectiveness of the clasroom teacher and we are going to find new ways to attract, reward and and retain great teachers,” the mayor said.

Bloomberg said the burden of paying back student loans from top colleges sometimes causes those interested in teaching not to consider it as a career choice.

“But we need their talents in our classrooms,” the mayor said. “Our kids need them.”

Bloomberg proposed having the city pay off up to $25,000 in student loans from anyone who finishes in the top tier of his or her college class and wants to be a teacher.

“Our teachers deserve that, and so do our children,” the mayor said.

Bloomberg also wants the city to offer top teachers a $20,000-a- year raise if they are rated highly for two consecutive years.

Any of the mayor’s suggestions outlined in the State of the City would need to be approved by the powerful United Federation of Teachers.

“Historically, teachers unions around the country have opposed rewarding great teaching through merit pay, but more and more teachers are asking why and we’ve seen how well this can work in other cities,” Bloomberg said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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