NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Yorkers want decisions
about which teachers to fire based on performance not
seniority, a poll showed Thursday, giving Mayor Michael
Bloomberg a boost in his conflict with the teachers' union.
By a margin of 85 percent to 12 percent, voters say layoffs
should be based on performance rather than seniority, the
Quinnipiac University poll said.
The poll was statewide, but the issue is hotly contested in
New York City, where Bloomberg proposed laying off thousands of
teachers in his budget for fiscal 2012 and wants to end the
practice of eliminating the most recently hired.
The dispute is part of a national debate about how cities
and states should balance budgets under stress from the
sluggish economy and reduced federal aid, a crisis that has
injected volatility into the traditionally safe $2.8 trillion
municipal bond market.
Fifty percent of respondents said they had a favorable
opinion of public school teachers versus 22 percent with an
unfavorable opinion, but a similar majority of 51 percent said
teachers' unions played a negative role in education.
Thirty-nine percent said unions played a positive role.
Bloomberg and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) have
been in a running dispute on the "last in, first out" policy.
The union says past methods to evaluate teachers were
flawed and a new system begun last year was still unproven.
UFT television ads target Bloomberg for emphasizing who to
fire rather than how to save jobs and criticize his tax policy
for not extracting more from the wealthy to help fund
The Feb. 15-21 poll of 1,457 registered voters had a margin
of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent, Quinnipiac said.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Jan Paschal)
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