Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Delegates that support ACRs/ATRs and educators will support these resolutions at Wednesday's UFT Delegate Assembly

Resolution for Full Union Representation for ATRs
Please raise for NEXT MONTH’S AGENDA

Whereas, the Delegate Assembly is the highest policy making body in the United Federation of
Teachers, and
Whereas, federal labor law requires that policy making bodies within a union be democratically
elected with each member entitled to a vote, and
Whereas, Absent Teacher Reserves (ATRs) are not entitled to vote in Chapter Elections unless they
happen to be working in a school that has a Chapter Election during a particular week that the ATR is
working in a school, and
Whereas, unions can set up reasonable rules as to who can run for office, but it is not reasonable that
ATRs including Leave Replacement Teachers and Provisional Teachers cannot run or serve as
Delegates or Chapter Leaders simply because they belong to no Chapter, and
Whereas, the ATR position has now been embedded in the UFT contract in Section 16 of the 2014
Memorandum of Agreement, therefore be it
Resolved, that the UFT will immediately create a Functional Chapter to represent the interests of
ATRs, Leave Replacement Teachers and Provisional Teachers.
Movement of Rank and File Educators is the Social
Justice Caucus of the UFT- New York City’s Teachers union.
We are a positive alternative to the current union leadership.
Want to talk MORE?
Join us for a post-DA gathering at 6 pm, just a few blocks away at
the White Horse Tavern, 25 Bridge St.

Whereas, both New York State gubernatorial candidates Andrew Cuomo and Rob Astorino vocally
support the privatization of education through the expansion of charter schools, and the Green Party
ticket of Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones oppose charter schools, and
Whereas, Andrew Cuomo has pushed through an expansion of testing statewide and the punitive linking of test scores to teacher evaluations, while the Hawkins/Jones ticket opposes an emphasis on
testing, and
Whereas, Andrew Cuomo implemented a destructive tax cap that has forced massive layoffs of teachers in upstate districts, and
Whereas, the New York State AFL-CIO and the New York State United Teachers have declined to endorse
Cuomo because of his anti-education policies, and
Whereas the Buffalo Teachers Federation, Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, East Williston Teachers Association, Lakeland Federation of Teachers, Diane Ravitch, the Coalition for Public Education,
the Independent Commission on Public Education and three local NYC Democratic clubs have all
endorsed the Hawkins/Jones ticket, and
Whereas, the Hawkins/Jones platform of a Green New Deal calls for equitable funding for all of our
schools, reduced class sizes across the state, support for programs that promote desegregation in
our schools, an end to zero-tolerance discipline policies driving the school-to-prison pipeline,
and allowing schools to develop methods of assessment organic to the learning process, and
Whereas, Astorino and Cuomo are both millionaires while Hawkins and Jones are both union activists,
Hawkins in Teamsters, Jones in the UFT and PSC, therefore be it,
Resolved, the United Federation of Teachers endorses Howie Hawkins for Governor of New York State and Brian Jones for Lieutenant Governor. Be it further
Resolved, the UFT, through COPE, inform its members of this endorsement, the contrasts between the candidates on key education issues, and mobilize its members to support the Hawkins/Jones campaign.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

“Here We Go Again!”

An ATR returns to page 1.
“Here We Go Again!” – In which the former ATR is no longer a former ATR, but an ATR, not former, but for a second time and, OH, HECK, I’m back in the soup.

You know those kids’ picture books where you give a mouse a cookie, or you give a pig a pancake, and you go on this long convoluted journey only to end up back on page one when you get to the last page? Yeah, I kinda feel like one of those characters. You see, friends. I am back in the ATR stew.

Funny how this came about. I had a roller coaster of a year last year – I was in a school that was completely out of control and was assaulted and sent to the hospital. Over the summer, I had no idea what was waiting for me come September, as I had heard nothing about being moved to another school and had yet to hear the result of my transfer request.

As the summer wound down, I was focused on squeezing every bit of goodness and family time out of what remained of the season. Almost daily visits to the pool, summer outdoor concerts, cocktails on my backyard patio with friends, and barbecues kept the trepidation at bay and I made a firm commitment to not worry about things that hadn’t happened yet.

So imagine my surprise when my husband tells me that he checked the house answering machine and said that there was a call from a principal asking me for an interview. I was completely puzzled, as Open Market had closed and I had not found any vacancies on it that I found suitable, and therefore had not applied for any interviews. Anywhere. But, not one to mess with fate, I returned the call.

The principal was very nice, and we spoke for a few minutes before I asked how he came to call me, as I didn’t recall applying to his school. He said, “I got your name from the excess list.”

WHAT??? “Excuse me?” I said, “Excess list? Like ATR?”

After a few moments, I found out that I had been allegedly been placed in excess at the end of the school year. Sure enough, I logged on to the Excess Staff Selection System, and there I was. In excess.

To this day, I have received no formal, written notice that I am in excess. I have heard nothing from my former principal, and all my belongings are still, as far as I know, in my old school. Requests to reclaim my belongings have been ignored – and my union has been little help in assisting me in getting my property back.

The question lingers – what if we had ignored the house answering machine, as we tend to do as we favor our cell phones and the land line is used mainly by the kids? What if this principal had never called me and I never found out I was in excess? Am I really in excess? I got an assignment on the system, but I have no hard paperwork explaining how I came to be here. Would my no-show on the first day been my first instance of “problematic behavior”?

Why does this bother me?


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Some goals to pose in the ATR meetings at the UFT borough offices

Some goals to pose to Amy Arundell and the UFT in the ATR meetings at the borough offices on September 9 (Manhattan and Queens), September 11 (Staten Island) and September 12 (Bronx). The Brooklyn meeting was held on September 8.

  1. Points We Want to Make
  • Was the return to the previous way of funding teachers’ salaries, so as to remove the “roadblock” of higher salary costs from principals’ consideration when hiring, a part of the contract negotiation? Why not?
  • Last school year, some ATR members were observed by their field supervisors, out of license. Why did the UFT allow this?
  • Recommend that next school year, the DOE arranges for all current ATR members, to collectively meet, to have a day of professional development. At the same event, allow the UFT to hold its annual UFT meeting for ATRs that is currently held borough-wide, after working hours.
  • Demand protection from physical harm from students and consequences for their actions, if it does occur.
2) Questions to ask at the UFT’s ATR Meetings
  • Considering that a significant number of students are reading below grade level, what is the UFT doing to urge the DOE to put librarians back in schools and reading teachers back in the classrooms?
  • Why were many members of the ATR, who applied on the “Open Market System,” not given interviews?
  • How many members of the ATR were appointed to positions prior to the beginning of the school year?
  • Explain who pays ATR members’ salaries if hired provisionally versus being appointed. How long does the DOE pay/contribute to their salaries once in these positions?
  • What plans are underway, by the DOE, to create opportunities/new programs for ATR members with Art, Music and CTE Trade licenses?
  • What happens to ATR teachers who were U-rated last school year?
  • Why didn’t the UFT respond to the repeated lies and/or attacks on members of the ATR pool by the media (“Crain's,” the “NY Daily News,” the “NY Post,” “WNYC,” the “NY Times” and the “Wall Street Journal”) and Chancellor Farina?
  • Why is the UFT “turning a blind eye” in many cases to ATR members’ complaints of harassment by school administrators or ATR field supervisors?
  • If ATR members are terminated after 3020a hearings, for unprofessional behavior, do the members lose their entire pension minus the years they contributed?
  • Despite repeated requests for a definition of “unprofessional behavior” on the part of ATR members, which could result in an expedited 3020a hearing and ultimately, termination, why is the UFT’s answer vague or nil? Stating that the arbitrators will be able to recognize such behavior is not considered an adequate response, according to the ATR pool. How may the ATR avoid such problematic practices if they don’t know what they are? Why are ATR members singled out for disparate treatment, while the remaining membership is not?
  • According to chancellor there will be no forced placement. Then explain how ATR members, who do not accept a position in their license area and in their borough, are to be considered as resigning?
3) Goals
  • The UFT should allow ACRs and ATRs to have borough-level elected representatives with Delegate Assembly voting rights, as our number at approximately 1,000 is comparable to the number of UFT members in many districts.
  • The UFT should facilitate the creation of new positions for borough representatives dedicated to the ATR pool.
  • Due to that fact that the following incidents happen quite frequently, instead of putting the onus on ATR members to complain to Chapter Leaders or UFT representatives, the UFT should inform school administrators to:
    • stop assigning ATR teachers to do clerical tasks.
    • stop assigning multiple periods of cafeteria, hall and bathroom duty.
    • inform School Safety that ATR members do not have to scan.
    • insist that schools provide bathroom, classroom and elevator keys.
  • The UFT should insist that the DOE puts in writing, in explicit detail, a list of the unprofessional behaviors that principals can use to return ATR members back in rotation, and that could result in an expedited hearing and ultimately, their termination.

Friday, August 29, 2014

"I am an ATR. What are you going to do for me?"

There is a movement underway to draw attention to the ATR cause.
Please flood Twitter directly with the following statement verbatim :
"I am ATR, an experienced teacher. I need to be placed in a permanent position,to best serve NYC's students. @NYCschools @UFT @deBlasioNYC?"
Tweet this to Mayor Bill de Blasio and the UFT.

"#ATRjobs Experienced employees @NYCSchools @UFT @BilldeBlasio Ensure placements 2014-2015 Apply #district#boro#ADA constraints #ATRjobs"
It is already underway. Please share.

For Mayor Bill de Blasio:  (@BilldeBlasio)

For Public Advocate Letitia James: (@TishJames)

For City Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito: (@MMViverito)

For Michael Mulgrew / the UFT:

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.