Hello, ATRs are suing

Sunday, October 11, 2015

UFT to ATRs: We're not going to advocate for you -- On the eve of the Friedrichs decision the UFT talks like this?

The UFT held official ATR meetings at the boro offices in recent weeks. As pointed out earlier, there were many problems with how the meetings were timed. They were inappropriately timed for actual teacher schedules.

The way that the meetings were conducted were problematic. These were informational meetings, with Amy Arundell speaking in a yelling tone for about an hour. She repeated some points several times. Her taking up most of the time with a one-way delivery was similar to the way that President Mulgrew takes up over an hour with his running monologue at the Delegate Assemblies that leave little time at the end for member questions. As one commenter reported, her response to one member was, "OK, Mr. glass is half-empty." Is this any way for a representative to speak to a member? Shouldn't a union (or rather, Unity caucus) that staunchly refuses to allow members for represent themselves speak in a more cordial manner? Or is the union so arrogantly confident of its power that it doesn't need to consider how it speaks to members?

While the UFT could be facing the end of the union in terms of dues income, the UFT is acting in as cavalier a fashion as it ever has. Is it any wonder that Arundell speaks so flippantly? This is a union that takes a King George III approach to representation on the question of ATR representation. With this kind of attitude is there any way that the union expects to successfully appeal to ATRs for dues if the Friedrichs decision turns government employee unions into open shop unions? Is the UFT planning to cut us loose?

The comments below speak to the reactions that many ATRs have had about the UFT's position during these meetings, that the UFT is acting more as an arm of the NYC Department of Education, just echoing the DOE's line. ATRs have consistently said that observations of ATRs in subbing situations are deeply problematic and illogical. (On the issue of ATR observations, see here and here. Here is the UFT's justification of the observations. What clearer case do we have that the UFT is operating as the arm of the DOE?) Instead of hearing our concerns, the UFT representative has spoken in a scolding tone to the ATRs, delivering what the ATRs must do. It's interesting that past guideline sheets that the UFT gave the ATRs spoke of rights and responsibilities. This year's sheets just spoke of ATRs' responsibilities. Why the change? This is a union that speaks to the members, rather than being influenced by its members.

The DOE has succeeded in imposed on ATRs conditions that are imposed outside of the contract. Related to this comment:  "Why is there not an official document from the UFT and DOE stating these expectations for ATRs? Instead, there is collusion between the UFT and DOE to allow harassment of ATRs behind the scenes." nowhere in the contract is there anything about conditions under which ATRs can be observed. It's not surprising that this is the case, because the UFT would probably not be able to logically justify the inappropriate conditions that it allows and that it directs ATRs to follow, through directives in the informational meetings.

The following is from an email addressed to UFT ATR rep Amy Arundell, UFT president Michael Mugrew, Queens boro rep Rona Freiser, Queens High Schools district rep James Vasquez and alternate district rep Washington Sanchez. Following that letter is an ATR's analysis of the UFT's position in the meetings.

 Dear Ms. Arundell,

 If this account of the ATR meeting is correct, the UFT is not advocating for us. This position sounds like it came directly from the DOE.

 These are unrealistic expectations set up for  ATRs to fail. How absurd is it to expect teachers covering classes to have lesson plans when the reality is that they don't know what their assignments are until they arrive to work. In addition, the school's expectation is for the teacher to implement the lesson that was left by the absentee teacher, which is usually only a handout.Many times, there is no absentee materials, in which case you "baby sit" the class. In four years as an ATR, I have never been asked to have a lesson plan for a coverage by a school.

 Why this disconnect between the school reality and these expectations? Would you be able to teach a lesson to a class out of subject or teach a different subject and have the students cooperate? In addition, is it not so that if a teacher who is observed out of license, that lesson can not be used in a final evaluation? 

  It seems the UFT wants to be" politically correct" rather than confront the DOE in advocating for ATRs.

 Why is there not an official document from the UFT and DOE stating these expectations for ATRs? Instead, there is collusion between the UFT and DOE to allow harassment of ATRs behind the scenes.

 Ms. Arundell, it is assumed you are a mouthpiece for the UFT position. If not, you should be replaced as the ATR liason.

To Mr. Mulgrew I say, do the right thing  and have the courage to advocate for the ATRs who are being subjected to stressful and unrealistic working expectations.


James Calantjis
HS Educator

Hi all, 

I went to a Queens UFT ATR meeting several days ago.

Instead to oppose the shameful treatment of ATRs by their field supervisors,  UFT actually agrees with all of the DOE inhumane demands as:

1. Field Supervisors may conduct unannounced, informal observations. These may be done even if you are covering a class out-of-license.
 (As [an arts] teacher, I'm required to actually teach [a foreign language]!?!)

2. If your Field Supervisor and you agree on a time to be formally observed, but on that day the needs of the school dictate that you must cover a class out-of-license, you can still be observed, but the observation must be informal. 
(What a sudden psychological shock that can cause a heart attack!)

3. Field Supervisor may request a copy of your lesson plan, in conjunction with an observation. You should always have a copy of a lesson plan, either one you wrote, or one that was left for you. 
(But, an absent teacher almost never leaves his/her lesson plan; usually they leave only a handout, if so.)

4. Whether you are observed or not, if you are covering a class out of license, and you are not provided with a sub-lesson plan, you may teach a lesson in your license area. 
(This is crazy for several reasons - that the students will not listen to you since a) you teach a different subject b) they treat you as a substitute teacher whom usually they do not listen at all!)

Comments about these UFT recommendations???


  1. Hello,

    I have a question about my status as a provisionally hired ATR, is there an email link I can send my question to? In case not... here is my question:

    I have been hired for the year and signed the provisional agreement. Then, a week ago, I was called by a school where I would love to work and they offered me a permanent position. I was told by the 'new' principal that she called HR and the central offices and was told that since she is offering me a permanent position and therefore taking me onto her own staffing budget, that her offer trumps the provisional agreement I have signed. Now, the 'current' principal says No, he won't agree to let me go, and that I was misinformed. Where do I stand here? Both principals claim to know what they are talking about and I don't want to do the wrong thing. Thanks!

    1. Hi 89artroom, You can send your question to atrnyc@gmail.com, or you can send your question to Amy Arundell at aarundell@uft.org

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. If you're an ATR, jump at any forced placement you get. There is tremendous political pressure to get rid of the ATRs. Think of the game musical chairs. Forced placement is what the policy used to be before 2005. People didn't have a choice. Most members were able to accept the positions when they were excessed and succeed in their new schools.

    3. Forget the political pressure pal. Donald Trump has exposed these idiot politicians as know nothing morons. Political pressure for what? ATRs are some of the best teachers in the NYCDOE system who just so happen to be in the pool due to idiot politicians like bloomberg and klein. Get smart and listen and know what is happening. Do not buy the koolaid pal think for yourself. The politicians are the same people who gave us common core. Politicians like arne duncan gave us more bullshit "political pressure" as you would say. Just remember, the ATR pool of teachers and guidance counselors are experience top notch professionals who for no fault of their own find themselves in limbo in the pool but hopefully when the bloomberg stench disappears from the nycdoe the pool will be just a distant memory.

  3. The ATRs that have been forced placed (this year and last) are in nightmare schools. Every June all force placed ATRs are put back into the ATR pool. Most got effective ratings. Two ATRs who have taught Math at the high school level for over twenty years have been forced placed into 6th grade Math. The UFT said it was acceptable to teach 1year below your license area. Its just another move to get people to resign.

  4. The rotating ATR with roving supervisor is absurd. Recently, I was asked to cover a class of autistic students. I am not certified Special Ed; there was no trained paraprofessional to assist me. One student, bright and verbal but very hostile and uncooperative wanted to know who I was. I was not his teacher, he stated repeatedly, and he was going to go home and tell his mother. Truth is, the school was violating those students' mandates to place me there, and I was caught right in the middle of this violation! This is what being forced to teach out of ones certification can lead to; in a word: anything goes!

  5. A provisional forced placement still means you are an ATR.

  6. ATRs field supervisors are coming with a dirty agenda. A lot of them haven't taught in years, sometimes they do not know the subject area. It is a waste of resources and our Union should stop the harassment and nonsense that the most experienced teaching workforce is submitted.