Monday, August 11, 2014

An ATR sends a correction letter to the Post for their imbalanced article on ATRs

  An ATR sets the record straight, correcting Yoav Gonen's article in the New York Post. And meanwhile, the NYC DOE has been holding job fairs, through the summer, for new recruitment. Why haven't ATRs been informed of these fairs? Some schools are even recruiting on Craigslist, and at least one school is openly saying that licensure is not required. These new recruits are getting positions that could be filled by ATRs, fully licensed, experienced teachers. Why can't the UFT get a hiring freeze to prevent this displacement? Meanwhile, ATRs have submitted dozens of applications through the Open Market Transfer system, to no avail: no interviews. This has many ATRs thinking that this program is a hoax.

Dear Yoav,
   Your article on ATRs is not balanced.
   Even though teachers (and guidance counselors, social workers, librarians, Assistant Principals) lost their jobs 'through no fault of their own"(UFT quote), principals have not been hiring them since 2011 due to their higher salaries which are charged to the school budgets.  This is a fact as the new contract has a clause that now assures that the average teacher salary of a school will not increase if an ATR is hired.
  Since 2011, principals have used ATRs to fill vacancies and leaves and then dismissed them at the end of the semester or leave, hiring new teachers.  They saved money as they were not charged (or were charged very little) for the ATRs service during the semester and then save money on a permanent hire of a new teacher.
  To say teachers are "unwanted" or "ineffective" because they are in the ATR pool and are not being hired, in effect because of DOE budget policy, is demeaning to these educators.  Are the other staff in the ATR pool ineffective because they have been in the pool since 2011, such as guidance counselors?
  Susan Edelman in her article last Sunday at least had a more balanced piece, acknowledging the budget issue in hiring ATRs.Your piece gave three paragraphs quoting Students First NY, which is anti-ATR.
   Put ATRs in the classroom and evaluate them like other teachers rather than demonize them for being in the ATR pool. You should also provide the ATR perspective to readers.
   In addition, you should FOIL to find out how many ATRs were permanently hired (not "provisionally" and tossed back into the pool) since 2001. I have been trying and DOE has not been forthcoming.
James Calantjis

Monday, July 7, 2014

An ATR addresses the essential issues of the DOE in the Attack on Veteran Teachers

It is important to note well that the very nature and reason for being of "The Corporation" is to shield its investors and administrators from liability and accountability.  I can't be the only one who notices that every time the NYC DoE issues an official public statement it comes from some nameless, faceless bureaucrat who appears in print as "the DoE" or from "DoE Spokesperson, Margie Feingold."

The DoE has metamorphosed into a giant corporate entity which functions as an impregnable fortress.  It is too big to fail, and is shielded from accountability by its facelessness which protects individual executives and bureaucrats behind a wall of invisibility and anonymity.

The only way for the public to combat issues involving DoE non-compliance or incompetence is through expensive litigation.   The faceless, nameless bureaucrats are never held accountable because they successfully hide behind the wall of invisibility and they can rely on their corporate budget to litigate an issue ad infinitum. 
Unlike professional journalists (Beth Fertig/WNYC, etc.) I note well that the media NEVER critically questions or follows up on any of the disinformation or corporate missives that are dispensed by the DoE's public relations mouthpieces.

The DoE avoids transparency and accountability by hiding behind their legally mandated mission to protect the privacy of the minors whose interests they represent.  This legal obligation is exploited by the DoE as a shield to avoid transparency and accountability by public watchdog groups and the media. Because of the legal shield against investigation the media is dependent upon the largesse of the DoE to provide them with information.  And like submissive lapdogs they gratefully and uncritically accept any crumbs and scraps of information the DoE chooses to feed them.  

Another part of the complexity of the issue has to do with the simultaneous expansion of the bloated bureaucracy of the DoE which insulates them from both  transparency & accountability.   Beginning with Rudy Giuliani and Harold O. Levy and their corporate consultant McKinsey & Company, and continuing with Bloomberg/Klein, the City dismantled all of the DoE's accountability and oversight units EXCEPT for the Teacher Performance Units (TPU).  They super-empowered Principals by eliminating oversight of their operations;  they uncritically accepted and encouraged and celebrated all the inflated and bogus data and statistics they proffered and rewarded them with cash bonuses for delivering inflated graduation rates and test scores.   

What we are left with within the culture of the DoE/UFT is the destruction of the labor movement, the creation of a "right to work"  economy, and zero accountability for substandard products (illiterate graduates) in the new factory model engendered by corporate education reformers and their political cronies and legislative enablers.  

The whole charter school/privatization movement is about avoiding accountability for instructional incompetence, sub-standard performance, and financial malfeasance.  The movement enables professional misconduct by corporate profiteers  and educational administrators.  It operates primarily as a bait and switch strategy of shaming and blaming teachers for failure,  and substituting creative teaching and learning and inquiry based education with rigid, proprietary test-prep drill and kill.
As for the UFT -- it has metamorphosed into a corporate style professional development organization.  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A displaced teacher speaks out on the Contract on Educators

The leadership of the UFT, Michael Mulgrew, along with the Mayor, have subverted and usurped the rights of our union members. This will remove our union relationship with the rank and file of our union brothers and sisters in other unions, not only in NY, but around the country. Our leadership is out of touch with its members and our brethren around the country.
Today I shed tears for our union, and its soon-to-be isolation from others fighting for bargaining power and right to make a living from their labor. My tears will now be a path to putting my boots on the ground and my condemnation in the air, vocal cords wanting to yell out my adamant cry for change. The courage to speak out makes me free.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

When they came for the sanitation workers

When they came for the sanitation workers, they saw that the sanitation workers were willing to let the garbage pile up. So, they got what they wanted

When they came for the cops, they realized the cops were armed and carried weapons. So, they got what they wanted.

When they came for the transportation union, they realized their union leader was fearless and outspoken --not afraid to get arrested. So, they got what they wanted.

When they came for the teachers, they noticed that teachers loved kids and were willing to spend their own money on needed supplies and stay after school to help kids in need. They also noted that teachers were highly sensitive, thoughtful and compassionate folks. So, there was really no need to give them anything. And nothing is what they got.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The tentative UFT contract's "problematic" clause seems legally dubious

As writers at the ICEUFT blog have emphasized the standard for discipline of ATRs is tricky: "The “Problematic” Language is Not the Only Part of the Agreement that is Problematic". It is based on a label of behavior as "problematic;" but this is troublesome, as the term is not precisely defined in the tentative DOE-UFT 2014 contract.

The beginning of the article describes the fast-track expedited dealing with targeted ATRs:

Principal removal of ATR after assignment. Under the proposed contract a principal (not the teacher) has the complete discretion to return a teacher to the ATR pool. If the return is based on “problematic behavior,” defined as “behavior that is inconsistent with the expectations established for professionals working in school.” An ATR accused in two writings within two years of this “problematic behavior” may be accused of a “pattern of problematic behavior” which can become the basis of an “expedited 3020-a hearing” in which a hearing must be completed in one day (half day to each side) within 20 days that the teacher requests a hearing. The decision must be made within 15 days of the hearing date.

The article closes with this conclusion which sums up how this sets a bad precedent for teachers in general, going into the future.
The acceptance of this procedure as a perceived benefit signals our union’s position in future contracts where it appears all teachers will “enjoy” the benefit of expedited and ill-defined termination proceedings.
This proposal is anathema to the good order of the teaching profession and must be completely understood before it is blindly accepted.

Another ICEUFT blogpost addresses how Mulgrew is conceding the ability for the "problematic" to be determined by others in the future. (May 13: "Mulgrew Admits He'll Leave Critical Issues to Others in Proposed Contract.")

This contract rests on disciplining teachers by terms that will be figured out at sometime down the line. Essentially, this has the potential of handing to arbitrators a blank slate on which to write discipline law. This overrides the state's 3020-a law, taking away some of the protections that law has offered. How could the UFT lawyers on the negotiating team agree to this provision?

The UFT has not explained to its members these precedents in discipline and rule setting.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Quick responses to hokey arguments for the UFT contract's "protections" for ATRs

Once upon a time there was a rep that promoted the UFT's 2014 contract, and said:

On ATR’s:   Double the protection a regular classroom has.  Yes, now it takes TWO principals documenting problematic behavior to bring someone on 3020a charges.  Yes, they will get a hearing in front of a neutral arbitrator.  Yes,  the DOE will have to prove their case.   Yes, the UFT will provide them with an attorney free of charge.   
Yes, they will now be sent to schools in their district and borough, where there are vacancies in their license area. Yes, the open market transfer period has been extended.  Yes,  they will have the option of taking a severance package if they resign.  Yes, there is NO AUTOMATIC DISMISSAL. 
The UFT said the ATRs would be protected.  They have been protected.  

To which an ATR responded:

I'm sorry you have bought into this.  We will have a ONE day hearing.  That is not protection.  Are you kidding?  What about calling witnesses?  What is unprofessional conduct?  Have you seen a list?  No, no one has?  
This has created a 2nd class of teacher?   Why?  ATRs are not worse teachers, they are not ATRs due to something on their part.  Their school was closed because of Bloomberg.  Why are they being hunted down like dogs?    Being sent to schools in their borough???   Do you know how large Queens is?  And I have no choice if I want to accept a job?  I can't get to schools in Astoria or L.I.C.  There is no parking, but I may have to take the job.  The only jobs left will be the jobs that no one else wants.   

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Petition the UFT for a mass meeting to explain the contract's impact on ATRs

This petition to Mulgrew is something that would be good for people to support. It encompasses all excessed staff in all content areas. Shouldn't we be granted a meeting? Staff could have an opportunity to ask a question about their situations or obtain information about the 2014 NYC DOE - UFT contract that they otherwise would not have had.
The union should announce the meeting to every member by their personal email and through the UFT website.

Petition the UFT for a mass meeting to explain the contract's impact on ATRs

We ask you for a mass meeting at UFT headquarters, in the delegate assembly hall, to accommodate all members of the Absent Counselor Reserve (ACRs), the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATRs), other excessed staff or other concerned UFT members, for the purpose of fully airing how the tentative UFT contract will affect excessed staff. 
The ATR part of the contract is a fundamental violation of due process and tenure. We are troubled that there is an expedited discipline and termination process that applies only to ATRs and not to non-excessed teachers. By agreeing to this expedited process you appear to be conceding to the myth that ATRs are all bad teachers instead of educators caught up in school closings and co-locations. 
Principal among our concerns, we wish to have a full enumeration of all actions that would constitute "problematic behavior". 
We are very troubled by your statement, reported in the May 12, 2014 “Wall Street Journal”, that some unnamed panel of hearing officers would solidify the definition of "problematic". How can we be considered as breaking the law if there is no written law or statute? You are trying to get people to agree to a contract whose terms are not yet really defined. 


How can one be considered as breaking the law if there is not yet a written law? Should the fate of teachers' careers rest on undefined legal concepts?