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

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why is the ATR pool still growing under deBlasio? Plus some questions ahead of the upcoming UFT ATR meetings

What's happening with the growing ATR pool?

It is unconfirmed that the Absent Teacher Reserve Pool has grown to as many as 4,000. What is driving the increasing number of excessed DOE staff? Despite the end of Bloomberg era closures, the growth of new schools and the growth of charters continues. As newer schools grow, taking more students, more classrooms, more teachers, existing schools lose students, lose space and lose staff. For those not in the know, the ATR pool includes guidance counselors (colloquially called ACRs, as they number in the hundreds), social workers, psychologists, librarians, besides strictly instructional staff. And by the way, the UFT has failed to unionize or demand that the DOE permanently hire various professionals such as part-time or itinerant nurses and guidance counselors. The UFT tolerates this privatized staffing, euphemistically called "service providers."

The DOE/UFT tell us that people are leaving the ATR pool. The DOE and the UFT both play the same numbers games, not giving us straight numbers about the ATR pool.

Members need to ask the UFT directly:

--How many people have been appointed from the pool, into schools?  That is, how many people have truly, permanently, left the ACR/ATR pool?
--How many people are filling a maternity or illness leave position?
--How many people are are in a position only for a semester or only for the current academic year?
--Given that the Fair School Funding formula, also known as the Fair Student Funding formula, has been the reason that principals themselves cite for not permanently placing or hiring staff out of the pool, why is the UFT not aggressively fighting the Fair School Funding formula?
--Why is the UFT not fighting for an amendment to the contract to bring seniority rights into hiring practices?
--Why is the UFT not fighting the well-known practice of DOE administrators to hire new staff over members of the Absent Teacher Reserve?

Does the UFT really want all ATRs to attend their meetings?
New excessing will occur in October, as class registers stabilize, after schools have accounted for student attendance patterns. According to the DOE's arcane excessing guidelines the excessing is concentrated in batches of staff in certain licenses, for example, a school can be found compelled to excess three teachers because of declined enrollment. As a result schools, can lose vital staff such as special education teachers, librarians or guidance counselors.

The timing of the meetings at the end of September and very early in October is not the best for the excessed staff. Many teachers and other DOE staff across the city will lose their positions in schools and will enter the ATR pool, yet they will not be introduced to the DOE's protocols for ATRs, as they would receive in the official UFT meetings for ATRs.

Here again are the official ATR meetings that the UFT has scheduled for the next two weeks:
Note that many of the meetings conflict with DOE staff obligations at schools. The 2014 contract introduced new obligations for teachers and other staff to stay late at schools. At most schools these dates fall on Mondays and Tuesdays. 

We hope that your year is off to a good start. As promised, we are contacting you to let you know that the UFT will be holding informational meetings for ATRs in the coming weeks. Whether you are new to the ATR pool or not, we want to make sure you have the opportunity to ask questions and get answers.
Here are the dates and locations. Note the changed dates and times, since the announcements earlier this week, following complaints:


  • Date: originally, Monday, Sept. 28. Rescheduled to Wednesday, Sept. 30, due to complaints about Sept. 28 falling on Sukhot (the UFT has not shared this change thru mass email; details and of this change have spread by word of mouth)
  • Time: 4–6 p.m.
  • Location: UFT Queens borough office at 97-77 Queens Blvd. Directions »


  • Date: Monday, Sept. 28, still, despite = Sukhot
  • Time: 4:30–6 p.m. Note the later start time, but not the later finishing time.
  • Location: UFT Bronx borough office at 2500 Halsey St. Directions »


  • Date: Thursday, Oct. 1
  • Time: 4–6 p.m.
  • Location: UFT headquarters at 52 Broadway Directions »

Staten Island

  • Date: Thursday, Oct. 1
  • Time: 4–6 p.m.
  • Location: UFT Staten Island borough office at 4456 Amboy Road Directions »


  • Date: Monday, Oct. 5, difficult for many teachers because 2014 contract compels teachers to stay late on two days, usually Monday and Tuesday; and at many schools faculty conferences (a late day, UFT brass, in case you didn't know) fall on the first Monday of the month
  • Time: 4:30–6 p.m. Later starting time, but original finishing time, asinthe Bronx meetings.
  • Location: UFT Brooklyn borough office at 335 Adams St. Directions »


  1. They changed the Monday meetings to 4:30 PM. I know of no ATR that has been hired permanently this summer or this fall. The only ATRs who have the slightest chance are those who have less than 10 years in - I've only met 1 who had. She was hired almost immediately. If unit funding were brought back, the ATR pool would be cut in half over night. Those meetings will be kept on the mundane. "They made me sign in! There's no parking!" These things are important but trivial when compared to the real issues involved. Write your questions. Steer the questions away from the mundane. The only responses you'll get is, "You have to be your own advocate. You're lucky to have a job." These meetings will be another prime example of why we need our own chapter. Hopefully, I'm wrong and something of substance will relayed. Be respectful of Arundel and any other speakers.

  2. Ms. Arundell probably will hand a subordinate (perhaps the ATR UFT part-timer Haj who answers the phone every time you try to get Mike Sill, who NEVER EVER returns phone calls) a pre-written answer, such as "Be glad you still have a job." That seems to be their answer for whatever reason they get called. And we are IN the position of having to call them to get that insipid and totally insulting answer BECAUSE of their lack of effort on our parts. The UFT is totally guilty of theft of services. They get paid and do virtually NOTHING to fulfill their stated duties. There is a pathetic older ATR stationed at the same school I'm at now. From what I understand, she's been there for some time. She also echoes that lame, "Be glad you have a job" like some Stepford wife. I guess if you hear it long enough and don't question it, you end up parroting that nonsense.

  3. Didn't the mayor or the chancellor recently announce that one of the new "fixes" for the schools would be to hire reading specialists for the elementary schools. And haven't all or most reading specialists been excessed over the past six or ten years?

  4. Anonymous

    Doesn't the union understand that if the supreme court case "Fredriech" goes against the union..... they are toast and will lose a lot of members. They should be courting union members not turning them off!!!!

  5. Looks like the UFT doesn't want the high school teachers at their Queens ATR meeting. Their contract has them scheduled for parent meetings on Wednesday.
    The union doesn't want to reschedule the meeting for the high school ATRs. Don't they know that many members will want to do what the city says they have to do and avoid a letter in their file? And going to another boro for the meeting, an hour away doesn't cut it.

  6. No Princess Arundel at the Bronx UFT ATR meeting on Monday. Some third string guy named Phil- I think he serves her coffee. Told the crowd that principals could hire them at the average teacher salary until the contract ends in 2016. I'm opting out of this union retroactively, from the time I became an ATR.