ATRs, the unrepresented -- no elected representatives in the UFT

"The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected.
"To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another."
Thomas Paine, First Principles of Government

Hello, ATRs are suing

Thursday, August 22, 2019

NYCDOE & UFT up to same BS: job crumbs at best for ATRs

So, it's the end of the summer and the same thing has happened:

Earlier in August the NYC Department of Education shut off the open market transfer for a few days and then reopened it. (The farce of the transfer system is addressed here.)

The DOE has held a number of job fairs over the summer and it has not informed actually licensed and experienced teachers (teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve - ATR) of these job fairs. The job fairs in the last weeks of the month have positions in the hard to staff schools and in the harder to fill licenses: science, special education.

The DOE has the gall, once again, to hire inexperienced newbies over the ATRs who wish to actually teach as they had done for years, before Randi Weingarten gave up the seniority transfer in 2005 (referred to here) and the United Federation of Teachers got teachers to go along with this.

The UFT challenges none of this; and it goes by the same script that it is up ATRs to get a job, when everyone knows that salary is what keeps them from being considered. Adding insult to injuries is that the UFT also crows about 3,000 new teachers being added to the teaching force. (Really, they are happy about adding 3,000 people who will pay dues; so the union actually has an incentive for the city to add newbies into jobs that experienced teachers could have.)

Forget about the line that the NYCDOE/UFT uses: that ATRs won't factor into raising average teacher salary in the school budget. Admins are smart. They know that whatever good budget arrangement that exists this year could be turned around in a future contract. They know that the formula could change three years down the road and the school will have to pay for the more expensive teacher. So, the school administration plays it safe and continues to go for the new, inexperienced teacher. This is why teachers with many years in the system will not get picked up by schools.

Of course, there is an age factor here: the ATRs tend to be over 35 years of age; most: over 50 years old. The newer teachers are in their early or mid-20s.

As to teachers in the reserve that will be placed into positions as opposed to just being assigned to schools in September: the DOE waits until the last possible moment, less than a week before school starts, to inform teachers of which school they will be assigned to. Furthermore, the notice omits information as to which topics they will be teaching. Memo to admins from people that actually teach in the classroom: different grades mean different curricula. Contrast this with other teachers who are informed at the end of June as to what their program will be. All of this means hastier preparation in the days before students return to the classroom.

All of these practices under De Blasio and Carranza are no different from Bloomberg, Klein and Walcott. Actually, some practices are worse under Carranza: giving insanely inflated raises to top administration. Several high level admins got raises ranging from 15 percent to 35 percent --compare this to the two to three percent salary raise in the last teachers contract. There was news last Saturday that there are now 36 administrators earning over $200,000 per year, a greater than 50 percent increase over the number of DOE admins earning that kind of salary in the last fiscal year. So, if the city has the money to give administration favorites, then why isn't this money given instead to the teachers who are in the classrooms?  The NYCDOE/UFT cannot in good name continue to go by the script that there is no money for reverting to the teacher unit system (pre Fair School Funding) when it spends this kind of money.

The UFT needs actually advocate for its members: it needs to press the city to go back to the system that worked in the past: valuing experience. The union needs to give preference to the ATRs, not to the inexperienced.

Monday, October 15, 2018

UFT ATR meetings this week - Placement is the front and center issue

Official UFT ATR meetings where 
the UFT will discuss 
placements and evaluation 
and other questions we may have.

Which plan for observations will be put under? The one for probationers?

How can we can the DOE place us 
without getting proper Danielson training and new technology practice?

We'll be compared against teachers who entered the system after Danielson was introduced. To add insult to injury, we often did coverages for teachers who were out if the classroom for such training.

Will principal's have a say, and will we be Funded from the central budget?

And will the UFT allow the DOE to cynically hire new people during the summer, as they do every year? The new contract says nothing about eliminating Fair School Funding which incentivizes against hiring experienced teachers.

Watch ATRs mainly get placed in schools that were unable to find anyone before Labor Day, unintroduced to their their program or room. 

All times are 4 pm, at the UFT boro offices.
Mon., October 15: Queens, 97-77 Queens Blvd
Tue, October 16: Bronx, 2600 Halsey Street
Fri, October 19, Staten Island, 4456 Amboy Road
Mon., October 22, Brooklyn, 335 Adams Street
Fri., November 2, Manhattan, 52 Broadway

Friday, September 21, 2018

Come help bring ATR issues to the plate for the next contract

Come to the MORE Caucus (UFT) meeting, tomorrow, Saturday, Sep. 22, 12-3 pm, at the CUNY Graduate Center, rm. 5414.

Bring concerns, whether they be how the fair funding formula feeds into school closure, ageism, teacher displacement --displacement of veteran teachers by less experienced, lower paid staff (strikebreaking by another name). 

In interim assignments, more often we are shunned as outsiders, and worse, sometimes bullied instead of being welcomed as new colleagues.

For things to change we need to come together and act.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

DOE excess system starting out new year with glitches

New York City's Department of Education is starting out the new 2018-2019 with problems already.

Standard ATR assignment procedure has the ATRs getting their assignments by Thursday afternoon, evening if the system is running late. Not this year. Just a few hard their assignments by Thursday evening. And many ATRs did not get their assignment by 5 pm Friday. Many were finally sent out over the next hour and a half.
Why the delay? The DOE has been handling this assignment task for a few years now.
Maybe the problem is due to a big influx of new ATRs. Mayor Bill De Blasio shut many schools last year. And in the case of Renewal Schools without great clout the teachers were turned out of their jobs, being told to get new position assignments at other schools or wait and see what rotation would bring. (As always, Fair Student Funding means that new hires will get preference in filling the vacancies at new schools or those Renewal Schools which turned out their veterans.) The big mystery is how many new ATRs or excessed staff are there, scores? Hundreds?

Another thing: is part of the DOE algorithm for assigning teachers to work as far as possible from where they live? Teachers had years back applied to work not too deep into a borough next to their own borough. For example, a teacher living in the Bronx might seek a teaching job in Harlem. But we're seeing in the rotation era teachers being assigned to the furthest end of the borough, creating commutes in excess of one and a half hours, so, in the case of the above Bronx residing teacher, he'd be assigned to the far south end of Manhattan.
Surely, these are hardship commutes.

AND, there are some excessed employees in good standing, as of Labor Day, still with no assignment!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The teachers shot dead at Santa Fe were substitutes. Carranza and DeBlasio's DOE still denies keys to many ATRs.

The two staff member dying in last week's latest mass school shooting were substitutes. Let that sink in. Time magazine gets it. Why doesn't the NYC DOE or the UFT for that matter?
Where is Michael Mulgrew loudly declaring action to ensure our safety.

Time magazine wrote, "‘They’re Really on Their Own.’ Santa Fe Reveals the Danger of Being a Substitute Teacher in Era of School Shootings," pointing out the obvious safety hazards that substitute teachers face. Technically, we're not subs. But let's face it, when it comes to security, we ATRs treated that way: left out of getting all the safety materials such as colored cards for the possible lockdowns, and many of us are still left out on getting keys to lock classroom doors.

Here's another clincher: we know that three of the slain students were in the art class that substitute teacher Cynthia Tisdale was covering. One wonders: did Santa Fe substitutes lack keys as many ATRs do? Let that weigh on the conscience. Will DOE refusal to "arm" ATRs with keys lead to a situation in which students die because the school was uncooperative with getting keys to an ATR?

Neither the DOE nor the UFT have given you special tips from the perspective of the perspective of a substitutting teacher --perhaps because it's been so long since any UFT leader was a substitute teacher. Here are some useful comments in the Time article.
In Briscoe’s [one surviving substitute] case, he told the students to cover their mouths based off of what he had heard occurred at other school shootings in the past. “That was something I never learned in training,” Briscoe, who earned around $12 an hour substitute teaching at Santa Fe High School, said. . . . This fight-or-flight mentality applies to all teachers thrust into these terrifying situations — whether they had gone through training or were familiar with the space or not, Briscoe said. But with two mass-casualty school shootings this year thus far, the layout of a classroom and lockdown procedures are on the top of the minds for some substitute teachers at each new gig.
“We’re expected to go in there and do the same job,” said Ginger Swanson, a 44-year-old substitute teacher based in Ohio. “We should have access to the same tools and information.” . . . .
Any time Swanson walks into a new classroom now, she thinks: Is there more than one exit? What’s this building’s floor plan? Can I open that window? Can the kids fit out the window? Can I? Where does the window lead to? What could I use to barricade the door? “You can’t just read your lesson plan and have a day with the kids,” Swanson said. “You have to keep [the potential for a shooting] in the back of your mind now.”
Swanson didn’t have these thoughts back when she began substitute teaching in 2012. She now wants schools in her counties to host orientations for substitute teachers so they can have a better sense of its protocols, lockdown procedures, layout and more.
(Of course, the 2012 reference is to the Sandy Hook massacre, the largest school shooting to date.)
Where is the Ginger Swanson in the UFT, advocating for our safety? We need reforms now, or we could become statistics, like Glenda Ann Perkins and Cynthia Tisdale in Santa Fe, Texas.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Hey DOE, are 35 lives worth less than the cost of a classroom key?

Recent weekend copies of AMNY reported that De Blasio wants active shooter drills for the schools by March 15. The major question looms: will ATRs and other itinerant teachers (traveling "specials" teachers or per diem substitutes) be supplied classroom keys in time? Or will the DOE continue to ignore the safety gap for ATRs?

Where is the UFT?

ATRs have long had the indignity of being told that since they were not staying at a school for a long time they were not eligible for bathroom keys, elevator keys, teachers lounge keys and yes classroom keys. Across NYC certified teachers, professionals with experience have had to telegraph their need to use the restroom by requesting to borrow keys. If lucky they are able to get a colleague to lend them the key to make a quick copy. When it comes to elevators, and classroom keys they are so routinely denied that it has become an inside joke to ATRs. Teachers tell colleagues entering into the ATR pool not to return their elevator keys at the end of the year so that they will have them in other locations. 

Teachers have had to make a nuisance of themselves to get a basic thing. Classroom keys are the most necessary item that is routinely denied. Teachers end up having to rush to catch an outgoing teacher or hope that a passing pedagogue will pity them and pretty please open the door. Teachers in the ATR pool report being reprimanded for having kids standing in the hall, when they had no keys. 

Lockdown drills have taken a whole new meaning now. With the seedy safety situation in schools having been revealed as subpar, it is clear that active shooter drills and lockdowns will continue to be a part of school cultures. But what about the kids being taught by an ATR denied keys? How much time is wasted because the DOE insists on treating these pedagogues as pariahs? Should kids just go to another classroom in an emergency? Should an ATR on a prep not be able to seek shelter with a classroom key? And the same can be said for substitutes and often for specials teachers lacking the specific room keys.

The DOE should immediately review all the lockdown procedures in schools, ascertain the problems with locks, master keys and solve them so that every DOE staffperson in a school building is equipped with keys for every room that she or he would be in during the course of a day.

Once assigned to a school, an ATR should receive keys, should get a mailbox, a school email and a teacher manual with all procedures and protocols. The safety of our students should not be put at risk because a whole set of teachers is being bullied by the DOE. If the school leaders cannot commit to these things, how can they honestly guarantee that a tragedy does not happen to DOE students and staff?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Why in the era of Newtown and Parkland are ATRs denied keys for locking their room?

Last week 17 people, students and staff, have lost their lives to gun violence on campus.

One key way that teachers helped many students to survive in the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was to lock the classroom doors.

A lesser well known ugly truth is that in members of the Absent Teacher Reserve are often not given keys that allow them to lock the classroom doors. ATRs know why this is done. ATRs are treated as pariahs. Neglecting the needs to equip with them with the essential tools to do their job is another way to ostracize and demoralize them. However, declining to give ATRs classroom keys is a serious safety problem. The NYC Department of Education has done a cruel thing in failing to see that ATRs are fully equipped. The DOE and the UFT have known that this is an ongoing problem. They are both failing in a duty of leadership and rectifying this.