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?"

***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE****
ATTENTION ALL ATRS
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.

or:
"#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:
https://twitter.com/BilldeBlasio  (@BilldeBlasio)

For Public Advocate Letitia James:
https://twitter.com/TishJames (@TishJames)

For City Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito:
https://twitter.com/MMViverito (@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.
Sincerely,
James Calantjis
Educator.

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.