NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There's a new battle underway to save New York City's failing schools.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has threatened to fire up to half of the teachers at struggling institutions in all five boroughs, reports CBS 2's Marcia Kramer.
"The best teachers stay. The least effective go," Bloomberg said.
It was a battle cry -- Bloomberg vowing to sidestep a labor dispute and fix 33 failing schools by getting rid of up to half the teachers. And he said he can do it under a turn-around provision in the exisiting contract with the teachers' union.
"Great teachers make an enormous difference and ineffective teachers are hurting our students' futures we cannot allow," Bloomberg said.
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Sources told Kramer on Thursday that each school will be able to develop its own criteria for assessing teachers and for getting rid of them.
United Federation of Teacher President Michael Mulgrew called the mayor's proposal "teacher bashing."
"I don't understand. What he's doing is basically a fantasy world," Mulgrew said. "He can say whatever he wants to say in his speech. I'm telling you right now that's not what's in the best interest of those children or those schools."
The mayor said he needs to get rid of the teachers in order to salvage some $60 million in school improvement grants for the failing schools.
"We have just got to say are we here for the teachers or are we here for the students? And I know what side I'm on," Bloomberg said.
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In his annual state of the city speech the mayor offered other bold ideas for improving the quality of teachers. For instance, teachers rated "highly effective" two years in a row will get a $20,000 bonus. And to recurit good teachers he offered to help pay off the student loans of those who graduate in the top 10-percent of their class.
"Come teach in our schools and if you commit to stay we'll pay off up to $25,000 of your student loans," Bloomberg said.
The mayor said he's also going to help high school students apply for federal financial aid in order to go to college.
The mayor also said he would support a proposal from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.
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