Hello, ATRs are suing

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

“It’s Crazy Over Here!” (In which the refurbished ATR gets a glimpse of APPR in a struggling school)

An ATR looks behind the veneer of a school under a Quality Review. Note how the account resonates with NYC DOE Chancellor Farina's instructions to closely monitor (some would say harass) teachers at "troubled schools." The efforts to thin the ranks of veteran teachers brings to mind the issues discussed in the earlier post on the significance of the precariousness of pensions.

When I saw the number displayed on my new Galaxy S5 (yeah, I didn’t back up to Google and lost all my contacts), I knew it wasn’t going to be good.
It was worse.
It was a glimpse into every teacher’s worst nightmare.
You see, it was a colleague from the school I was excessed from. That school is now the worst school in the district. Dead last. Bottom of the barrel. And the teachers are paying dearly.
They had a ridiculously early Quality Review. The school was rated “developing”. The faculty was told that, since the school was “developing”, that the teachers must also be “developing” as well, and that observations would be conducted on the assumption that the observed teacher was “developing” unless the observations proved otherwise (and the administration is making sure that the observations don’t). Those who cannot prove otherwise will be “urged to move on”.
So how is this playing out in practice? Well, after listening to my friend, who is up for tenure AGAIN (she has been in the building for over FIVE YEARS and STILL no tenure despite all Satisfactory ratings), it is apparent that they are trying to “clean house” and get rid of as much of the current staff as possible.
Let’s start with the teachers who were “developing” last year. They are all being observed CONSTANTLY. Sometimes 2 – 3 times per day. And, lo and behold, they are ALL either “developing” or “ineffective” on these observations. Every. Single. One. Teachers who chose the informal observation format for evaluations are being given full period (or longer) FORMAL observations, with no pre-ob or post-ob conferences, even though the administrator is in the room for 45 – 75 minutes at a stretch. And one administrator will leave and another will come and observe the teacher AGAIN. Almost immediately. I would venture a guess that they are looking to take the teachers (all tenured, mind you) who were “ineffective” or “developing” and make sure that they rate the same way this year, so that they can begin the 3020a process and get them out at the end of this year. Given the poor scores and general lack of discipline in this school, one can rest assured that the test data will support any poor rating an administrator pre-selects to give a teacher. So, that will take care of a nice chunk of the tenured, senior faculty. Let’s see what’s happening with the other ones.
Non-tenured teachers are being threatened with discontinuance. Daily. Both directly and indirectly. There are at least three teachers I KNOW of who have been teaching in NYC for over five years and who STILL do not have tenure. They are doing their “tenure binders” every year, collecting data, work samples and “artifacts” over and over again, only to be extended every year because “your data is off” or “you missed five days last year and was late once”. Last year, not ONCE teacher was granted tenure. This year, most of the untenured teachers are being informally observed almost daily, with written, formal “actionable feedback” begin given constantly. The feedback is often contradictory and vague, but that doesn’t stop them from coming in the NEXT DAY and commenting that “past suggestions have not been implemented”. So, the paper trail is being laid out so that the teachers who have been in the building for YEARS, but without tenure, will likely be discontinued at the end of the year.
Meanwhile, discipline in the building in non-existent. Students curse, fight, assault, and harass the teachers and each other, and administration turns a blind eye or attributes the chaos to “poor lesson planning” or “lack of cultural relevance” if the teacher is white.
Sometimes, it’s good to be an ATR.
God help my colleagues.


  1. "Good to be an ATR" As an ATR for the first time this year, I totally agree. And it is going to get worse for appointed teachers (who thought they were safe) with Cuomo's changes to the evaluation system, school closings, outside observers, etc.. Now everyone is in trouble--appointed, ATR, tenured and not tenured. At least ATRs are not subject to Advance (knock on wood) and we have three years on the contract before they come after us again. But they will, so everyone better be prepared for what is coming for ALL teachers.

    1. Yes, everyone is in the same pot. I knew that those expedited terminations (for ATRs) would eventually be for all teachers.

  2. To all the ATRs that post "it's good to be an ATR".....stop posting such things...be silent....or the powers that be will figure a way to crush us.

  3. Look at the latest evaluation system passed by the NY state legislature. What's next? Making everyone an ATR?

  4. Any idea what school this is for a do not apply heads up?

  5. Catherine and Count Basie Middle School 72. Queens. District 28.