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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

An ATR -How tough it is trying to leave the Pool

I am frustrated by our union. I will not give up and I will put my boots on the ground and I will have others join me in holding OUR UNION accountable. As a teacher in the traveling pool since the start of the School Year 2011-12, I have not only been frustrated, but have felt alone because the union refuses to address me or others in the pool respectfully.

Nowhere is there any accountability to those of us in the ATR pool. There is no mention of us in the New York Teacher newspaper, in fact, I dare the union, the UFT, OUR UNION to have a page called “The Traveling Teachers”. It would be great to have an ATR Bill of Rights that addresses all of our concerns, as we travel from school to school–there should be a list of the schools with the go-to persons, telephone numbers, ways of getting to the school, what kind of school it is–A, B, C,D, F, phasing out or out of control, respectful and kind students, good or bad administrators, in a good neighborhood or bad, who the union rep and extension, time we start and end the day. It would be nice to have the Union hire out a Hall for us to celebrate us for all the hard and arduous work we do and the humiliations we endure each day in our rotating schools. It would be wonderful to have a union chapter chair in each borough to meet our needs, a go-to person to help us with any issues we face in our schools.

As a teacher in the Pool, I can’t find a job. When I apply for a job, I’m either not called or called, and then never called again. In the very limited times that I have been called back, I go into an interview room and sit and listen to all of the “re-purposed jargon”, Common Core buzz words, Danielson, ad nauseum. In two school years, I have been sent to over 15 mandated interviews–I have done four demo lessons. In one the AP counted the time down, by shouting from the back of the room..45 minutes, 40 minutes and so on (shouted out loud to me in the front of the classroom), in another one, I was to teach an ESL class –It was an ELL class, I was put into a special educaton class without knowing it, and my last demo went awry when their computer failed, and when I was given another one, they kept the passcode on the computer, which timed the computer out every 10 -15 minutes. I have been to two or three hiring halls, I have had little to no P.D., and now, I have no real prospects for a “real job”. Everyone knows what I’m talking about, when I say a “real job”. I don’t want a babysitting position. I really don’t!

Once I was in the Pool and I had my first problem, I was told to call, Amy Arundell, who is supposed to be our go-to person. She has a very stand-offish manner. When talking to you, she is rude most of the time. She talks at you most of the time. She then tells you, if you call her, that you need to speak to “your rep”, the person in charge of your school district. For example, I had a problem my first year in the Pool, where I was told to sharpen over one hundred pencils. When I called her to tell her what was happening, now she knows me by now, she says in a very infantilizing manner “Clare? You know that you’re not supposed to be sharpening pencils. I knew that, but I needed her to be nice and say, “I’m sorry that they are doing this to you, I will personally call the school now and put an end to this practice.” All I want is for her to do her job in a very, kind and thoughtful manner. After all, I am a union dues-paying member. Is that too much to ask?

Also, this summer, many of us in the Pool who have not had any PD had little to no opportunity to sign up for summer workshops. Many of these workshops required the principal to select you. So, what if you are in the Pool and don’t have a home school? Good question? Well, I called Amy. She told me that she would sign me up and to have other members, from the Pool, to call her and have her sign them up. I thought that was what she told me. I had called her about signing me up. She said that she did.

Then, a Traveler must have called her, and she told me that she didn’t tell me that she would sign up the ATRs. She told me ” I told you that I would do this as a courtesy to you.” Well, I called the UFT Teacher Center and guess what? I was told that I was not on any workshop lists. I called her back, she sounded annoyed that I had told her that my name was not on any workshop list. She then asked me which workshops I was interested in, I told her and then she called and signed me up. Just as an aside, the Teacher Center only allows you to take one workshop over the summer. So, even if you have had no PD all year, you can only register for one. Amazing!

As a person in the Pool, especially for teachers whose schools have phased out or closed, WE need all of the help that we can get. So, I would suggest for all of us to put her to work starting now. Call her as many times as you need to. Call her when you are being disrespected in a school–not given a bathroom key or elevator key, put in a stairwell to watch a locked door for periods at a time, be careful in the SAVE Room–I have had bad luck..I was assaulted in the SAVE Room…what did the union do? Nothing. Did I report it and put it on the UFT site? Yes. Did they call me or ask me how I was feeling? No! Instead, I got an e-mail telling me that my complaint was received. Wow! So nice to know that my union cares about me.

One more date, I have been attempting to get a Comprehensive Injury Report signed by the HS Superintendent’s Office. I was assaulted in December of 2011. The days were coded as medical. I was injured and needed medical assistance and rest. Guess what? The days were taken out of my CAR. To this day, the days are coded as medical despite ALL attempts to get the Superintendent’s signature. Where is MY UNION? Why do I feel like no one is listening? It’s been almost two years since the assault and it feels like I’m being assaulted every time I call the union for assistance.

The next time you see an ATR, say hello and introduce yourself. Ask how they’re doing. Tell them who the union rep is and where to find him/her, what their extension is. Tell them where the bathroom is, where the elevator is located, which side of the building (if it’s a big building) they belong on, where the nearest exit is to the subway or bus, where a good place to eat is located, if there is PD while they are there, tell them if there is a position opening up in your school…and anything else you think is important for them to know while they are in your building for the week. They would do it for you, so now you have the chance to make good on what it is to be a good colleague.

I believe in “boots on the ground”! I believe that OUR UNION should work for us and be kind and considerate, and thoughtful. I am like this naturally, and so I expect MY UNION to treat me well, all the time. I do care about my well-being and the well-being of all teachers, in particular, the one’s without a voice right now, the women and men who find themselves in the ATR Pool, through no fault of their own. Like me.

In closing, I’d like to say that we in the pool feel defeated, neglected and we worry about our jobs all the time. We want to work in a school of our own, we want a group of our own students we can teach and call our own, we want to be in the classroom! We want to bond with our colleagues! Don’t let others tell you any differently. We need the UFT, OUR UNION, to show us respect, to show us some kindness, and to have the gumption to get us back into our own classrooms. NOW!


  1. hang in there teach, i feel your frustration as i am and have been in the pool for some time now.....the good news is that there is help on the way mainly with a new mayor....our union has just given up in dealing with the current psycho mayor as have most other nyc unions.....hang on a bit more, pray and welcome in our new mayor with open arms....

  2. hang in there girl

  3. Well written and well expressed. Thank you!

  4. Are you talking about Amy "ATRs are lucky to have jobs" Arundle?

    She said this to a room of hundreds of us a couple of years ago.. Che cogliones!