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

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Hello, ATRs are suing

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Observations in sub assignments, is this how Farina's DOE will "eliminate the ATR pool?"

ATRs are roundly frustrated with the very notion of teachers being plopped into classrooms they don't know and then experiencing high-stakes evaluations on their performance with students they do not know, in schools they do not know, with bell schedules they do not know. There is no known precedent, prior to this year, for teachers having their careers put at stake over high stakes evaluations with students they just met. The folly of ATRs rotating and getting observations in sub assignments only came about two years into Bloomberg's third term. Yet, chancellor Farina is definitely extending this questionably valid process.

The UFT has failed to speak up on this. Michael Mulgrew was directly asked about this during his appearance on WNYC on February 17th, but he didn't address the issue. The union's statements about teachers needing to get new wardrobes and get more professional development play into the media's and the DOE's line that ATRs are incapable. In October, 2011, the union publicized its agreement with a "pilot program" for rotating supervisors to evaluate rotating teachers in a handful of districts. This followed on other key events in the history of the ATR condition. 2005, the UFT sold a contract eliminating the seniority transfer. 2007, the union agreed to Fair Student Funding, opening the floodgates for principals rejecting ATRs for new teachers. June, 2011, the union's executive board agreed to rotation.

The union got shnookered with the line that this was a pilot program tried in a few select districts. With pilot programs the results of the pilot are shared. Where was the analysis of that first year? And did you notice? About observations in the first year, 2011-2012, Amy Arundell said that the only teachers getting U's at the end of the year got them for attendance issues. For the second year, 2012-2013, Arundell took great effort at the yearly boro level UFT ATR meetings to snuff out any discontent over the prospect of career-threatening U ratings. In the October, 2013 meetings Arundell called people that raised the issue “fear-mongerers”. By the end of this January, the pattern became clear: Roving ATR Field Supervisors are giving out Unsatisfactories at an unprecedented rate. One Queens supervisor is giving them out at a 50 percent rate. It is clear that they are at war with us. They couldn't get rid of LIFO. Note that the LIFO battle happened in mid-2011 and that by the fall the city meted out this rotate and observe program. They're pursuing the same tenure-breaking objective by this contract-breaking and all common sense-defying strategy. No education expert has stepped forward and has defended this approach of dropping teachers into alien situations and placed make or break expectations on them.

There are multiple contract violations in the course of these observations. The 2007-2009 Contract still applies to excessed teachers in rotation. Yet, some Field Supervisors are refusing to accept written requests for pre- or post-observation conferences. There are multiple reports of roving supervisors giving only part of a period to a conference. Thus, Articles 7A and 8J of the Contract are being violated. Common Core was launched after the 2007–2009 Contract was signed, yet in clear violation of the Contract, supervisors are mandating that lessons conform to the Common Core, a program so controversial that many in the legislature are having serious doubts. Some supervisors are going a step further and are mandating that teachers follow Danielson, yet this legally only applies to teachers in regular classroom assignments. In general, these observations appear to be arbitrary and capricious, violating the professionalism of educators. Because of the arbitrary and capricious issues these observations are in violation of Article 20 of the Contract.

And the uniform testimony is that supervisors are forcing ATRs to sign statements that they have received documents and that they have discussed certain questions such as “How many days are left in your CAR?” And what's up with pressing us into a discussion of the Family Medical Leave Act? Are they trying to get us to spend less time in the classroom?

Here is an excellent public letter summing up the issues at stake in the evaluations, followed by some ATR testimonies of the outrages of the ATR evaluation scam.

….Coming soon: ATRs turn the tables and write their quality reviews of the schools.

Dear Chancellor Farina,

    I thought I would inform you, in case you were not aware, about the ATR roving supervisors.

    The supervisors contact the ATRs and arrange to have them teach lessons in their subject areas in schools they happen to be in that week. The ATR, whose job it is to cover classes and implement the absent teacher's lesson plan, is thrust into a teaching environment, where he/she does not know the students or the school environment. In many cases they are asked to teach generic lessons and do not have access to classroom teaching resources. In essence, they are set up to fail, and at the mercy of the supervisors, who hold them and the lesson to unattainable standards.

    I think you can see how this practice certainly abuses the professionalism of teachers. They are being observed in an arbitrary and capricious manner without benefit of having a regular program or classes. They can not demonstrate effective classroom management, tone, differentiation of instruction or teaching rigor, in a one period lesson with students they do not know.

    ATRs should not be forced to conduct these high stakes lessons under these conditions. If the DOE wants to observe lessons, these teachers should be permanently placed in schools and in proper teaching environments.

   ATRs are valuable resources that are being wasted doing substitute work at high cost to city taxpayers. The DOE has hired 5000 teachers this school year while there are some 1200 ATRs. In addition, there is an ATR unit with several employees under Nicki Stanley at DOE central that adds to the cost, along with the expense of roving supervisors.

   I hope you will take a close look in to this matter and dismantle this ATR unit and roving supervisors, placing ATRs back into permanent classroom settings.

James Calantjis


I heard from one ATR that his supervisor came in and had him do a lesson (math) the same day using the regular teacher's lesson plan. She came back a couple of weeks later and gave the observation a satisfactory. He does not even know her name and she did not give him a copy of the observation.


It has come to my attention that the "observations" we are all undergoing are not actually valid and that the various networks are creating work in order to stay relevant.  Also, I was told all network contracts expire in July of this year and many are scrambling to find jobs - as APs,etc.  I don't know how much is actually true, but the following does make sense:

Our observations cannot be valid in that we are not privy to the academic backgrounds of the students we are "teaching" during the observation. Thus, we - AND our "supervisor" - are not aware of any IEP or learning accommodations and cannot accurately evaluate our lesson. For that matter, they cannot judge by previous grades or exams if we are teaching the "appropriate" materials. If we receive a U, we are then required to receive specific feedback and that is impossible for the same reasons. It also negates the observation process' requirement of being observed again to see if we have made the appropriate changes as specified and discussed with our AP.  These supervisors have 40-50 ATRs they are responsible for. Are they all researching the students they are observing us teach? Are they going to follow up with us? Arrange for us to see the same class and students to monitor our progress? Are they all prepared to professionally develop us if they find us lacking?  Really?

According to the person I spoke to this is all BS and busy work. Nothing so sinister as they are targeting us, or looking to find information out from us. It was also pointed out that if such were the case, we would all be undergoing the SAME procedures and that is clearly not the case. Some supervisors are requiring incorporation of common core, others are not. Some are making arrangements with the school beforehand so we can "feel comfortable" in the classroom, others are not. Some are staying the whole period, others or not. The very lack of consistency seems to point to the non-validity of these observations.

Again, don't know that it's true, but it does seem to make sense.  What exactly are the rules for ATRs and observations?  I don't think there are any.  Is there anything specific about us in the contract? Any provisions or guidelines or ANYTHING? If there isn't, then how can we be reprimanded - or evaluated - on something that doesn't exist and does not have any parameters for evaluation?


My friend got a U.
Then my friend was recommended for a vacancy by the same field supervisor.


I don't have an observation story (yet), being observed as a sub flies in the face of common sense. I don't know from what period to the next what I will be teaching, 90 percent of the time there are no lesson plans left, often I have been put in bilingual classes (I don't speak Spanish), I am been given hall and lunchroom duty. Are we supposed to carry around lessons for four subjects in nine different grades? As you know, the culture and expectations vary widely from school to school so it is very hard to prepare. I don't think ATRs are treated and differently than subs. The administration doesn't care what goes on as long as it's quiet and no one gets hurt. Pretty sad.


It appears that the roving supervisors are pouncing on teachers that are newly excessed. They observe them within the first few months of being excessed. I met a ten year veteran from a eastern Queens HS, a science teacher from a ten year plus veteran from western Queens HS and a fifteen year+ veteran from a southeast Queens HS, who had this experience. 


I was excessed in June this is my 10th year but only my first as an ATR and a field supervisor met with me over a month ago for a pre-observation conference. I have yet to receive a date or time when this observation will take place.


I was called by a science teacher last school year. The woman was given a class coverage for a bilingual class in math, neither of which were in her license area. She did the best she could do under the circumstances, in particular the language. The kids spoke only Spanish. 

So, she did the best she could do with gestures.

The Field Supervisor saw her after class. He told her that she had a "U" rating because she "didn't do her job." She asked him what her job was. His response was " teach the lesson as if you were the teacher." She was outraged. As anyone under these conditions would be. 

She told explained to him that she was at a huge disadvantage, as she was not bilingual and not a math teacher.

He walked back the rating to a "S". He said to her it's a very low "S".

I told her, after she told me the story, that an "S" was an "S". It didn't matter what he said. I told her that once she got the observation, she should sign it and fax it back immediately. She did, and she moved on.

The audacity of these horrible Field Supervisors just amazes me.

Fraternally yours, 

Clare D. Cortez, Teacher in the Traveling Pool since 2011


  1. So I meet my ATR Supervisor in September and she comes to observe in late October she came with another woman from Tweed I got five minutes to prep for a class of kids I never met. The Supervisor was nice enough to make copy of a hand out I was using. I taught this class in front of these two women and assistant principal and three teachers. After completing the observation I was told I was it was Satisfactory and I was left alone since. For the rest of the week every teacher in this school which is closing next years all came to ask me why I was in the ATR pool. My story is simple my principal took me to a 3020a for incompetence even though my passing rates on the US regents was 98% and My Global Regents passing rate was 95%. So his incompetent am I
    Check out my story at

  2. I took a provisional position in the middle of December, 2013. I was observed satisfactorily by a field supervisor assigned to me back in November,2013. The Friday before spring break, my principal was informed that I had to be observed under Danielson! Before I took the job in December, I called the Queens district office of the UFT and was told that no decision had been made about ATR's in provisional positions being observed under the new system. There was a disagreement between the UFT and the DOE which was supposedly being settled by the Commissioner. To date, it has not been settled, yet I am going to be observed between April 28 and June 6; once formally and 4 informals! How in the world am I suppose to prove proficiency in all domains after 3 months! In addition, I will be evaluated on my students' test scores. Is there anyone else out there in the same boat? Please reply. Where is our union??!!

  3. Apr 18 Anon,
    Check with Mike Sill at the UFT and the District Representative in your district. Relate your situation and the points that you mentioned. Proceed along with the UFT's perspective, and grieve if it does not go to your satisfaction. All of these informals and growth expectations in 3 months are ridiculous.
    This is definitely a priority issue which must be resolved ASAP.