United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten isn’t in a fighting mood. Last week, she made a splash when she first said charter schools can be incubators for good ideas in school reform. Yesterday, she offered an olive branch to one of her chief adversaries, the charter school operator Eva Moskowitz. And today, she issued a statement calling Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed budget “thoughtful and responsible.”

The proposed budget might still be harmful to schools, Weingarten implies in the statement:

Our schools have already absorbed cuts upwards of 10% over the last two years, and teachers are already doing more with less every day to provide a safe, nurturing environment for their students. Important after school programs such as tutoring and academic intervention services have already been affected. Additional cutbacks have the potential to dramatically alter the landscape, and attrition may mean jumps in class size.

Weingarten also argues against the creation of a new pension tier that would provide reduced benefits for employees hired in the future, something Bloomberg has been pushing to cut city costs. Earlier this spring, the UFT announced that it had identified ways for the city to save millions of dollars that would make a new pension tier unnecessary.

Weingarten’s complete statement is after the jump.

These are difficult times, and the Mayor has proposed a budget that, while we still have concerns about it, is thoughtful and responsible. We at the UFT have been working together with the city throughout this extraordinary year, first in Washington to secure federal stimulus funding, then in Albany to get restorations in the state budget, and now on behalf of working families to resolve the MTA crisis. Today’s executive budget announcement is a reminder that our work is far from over.

Our schools have already absorbed cuts upwards of 10% over the last two years, and teachers are already doing more with less every day to provide a safe, nurturing environment for their students. Important after school programs such as tutoring and academic intervention services have already been affected. Additional cutbacks have the potential to dramatically alter the landscape, and attrition may mean jumps in class size.

The Mayor once again raised a new pension tier as part of his presentation. What remained unsaid is that the pension improvements the mayor wants to jettison were in fact negotiated by city workers many times in lieu of salaries. For working and middle class families, pensions are a very important part of retirement security. Yet, there are other steps that can be taken to help further reduce the budget gap. For example, unions are ready to work with the city to secure more than $200 million in health cost savings, which is the equivalent to $600 per worker, and a retirement incentive for eligible educators would produce more immediate cost savings.

No one wants to see schools or students lose programs or services, and so moving forward, we need to work together to confront the challenges ahead. We have spent the better part of the last year fighting to preserve the safety net for New Yorkers, and we look forward to working with the administration in the months ahead. Now is the time when our kids need us to step up and be courageous. They need a quality education, and they need stability. We can’t turn our backs on them now. It would be tragic if we did.