Archives of Rudolph W. Giuliani

Mayor's WINS Address
Sunday, December 19, 1999

Taking a Major Step Toward a Better Education for our Children
by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani

This Thursday, I was proud to announce a landmark agreement between the City of New York, the Board of Education, and the Council of Supervisors and Administrators-otherwise known as the principals' union-that for the first time eliminates tenure for our public school principals, replacing it with a system of annual performance reviews and provides also for merit- and performance-based pay.

Principal tenure meant that our schools were guided by rules and procedures, and an overall culture, that protected people's jobs rather than advancing student achievement. Schools should put children first, not job protection. A school has to make its top priority-its first and most important standard of success-the performance of children in the classroom.

The terms we agreed to with the principals and administrators are a major step in the right direction. Not only do they discourage bad performance and give us a way to remove principals who aren't doing a good job-which we couldn't do before-but they contain many incentives and rewards for excellence on the job.

According to the agreement, principals will revoke tenure, which used to give them lifetime job protection regardless of the quality of the job they did. They will receive significantly increased pay, with differential pay for those who work longer hours and those who do a particularly good job. That's critically important. Public agencies need to be able to distinguish between excellent, adequate, and poor performance-and they need to reward people differently based on performance and productivity.

I'm also very proud that this agreement will give principals who go to work in select underperforming schools additional pay, creating exactly the right incentive for educational leaders to take on the school system's most substantial challenges.

In all these ways, this agreement is historic, and it's an important model. Every job has different particulars, but as a matter of general principle, there's only one way to continue improving the performance of government. That is to set clear and measurable standards of success, and then to reward people differently based on whether they meet or fail to meet those standards.

Finally, as strongly as I believe that this marks a critical step forward-and a historic step-in building a performance-based school system, I want to emphasize that it's just one of many steps that we need to take to fix our schools. The most important next step-which Governor Pataki, Peter Vallone, the speaker of the City Council, and I all strongly support-is eliminating the Board of Education, which by its very nature resists accountability at every level.

When we get rid of that system, and build in its place an accountable system from top to bottom that responds to the needs of children and focuses resources on the classroom, then we'll really have turned the system around and have cause to celebrate.

This is also a very, very important season for so many people in the City. It's the Christmas season, the Hannukah season, and people of the Muslim religion are celebrating Ramadan. I wish everyone a very, very happy holiday-a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hannukah, and for all those who are celebrating Ramadan, they have the greetings of everyone in the City. This is Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

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