Friday, November 6, 2015
Proof that DOE/UFT expects ATRs to countermand administrators, and proof that the UFT advocates for the DOE, not for teachers or parents
There is clear proof that the DOE's field supervisors have given U ratings to ATRs out of license and has expected ATRs to usurp the authority of the local administration. The Chaz blog's “Halloween Special - Horror Stories From The ATR Pool” showed several examples of DOE professional misconduct toward ATRs. See the case of the science teacher U-rated doing a coverage in a foreign language class. This rating is outrageous. How can a teacher be rated on carrying out the lesson that was not their own creation, carrying out a lesson that is out of their professional license? The DOE took the position that the teacher should have switched from carrying out the lesson that the teacher left, and switched to a lesson that was in the subject within the teacher's license.
Additionally, the idea that teachers must interject with a lesson confounds the nature of teaching and learning. Lessons are given sequentially, in context of prior lessons building knowledge up to the current lesson. Concepts depend on a previous lesson. For example, there are classes a, b, c, d, e, f, g. Knowledge builds sequentially. The student in class “d” has been through classes a, b, c. The student would be bored with having to repeat a lesson. Yet, if the teacher is bringing in “g” or “h” the student is frustrated with a lesson that is sequentially too far along. This is why we see at the high school and college level the term, “prerequisite.” Certain topics are needed before others can be introduced. The DOE's insistence on teachers dropping in from above and interjecting their own topical agenda, displacing the agenda of students, fails to understand this fundamental point of pedagogy.
Also, there is the issue of Units. Besides the issue of lessons within a unit, there is the issue of lessons that are of different units. Despite the efforts of the city to have uniform unit schedules, it is obvious to ATRs that in all the subjects, math, science, social studies, foreign language, English, different schools and different teachers are in different units, following their own calendar. This is the United States, not France, where lessons all over the country are on identical topics, no matter the city or town. Here again, we see the DOE expects the ATR to drop in and deliver a lesson that is in great likelihood out of place. Foreign language students might not know the words on weather. Chemistry classes could be covering molecules instead of solvents. History classes could be covering Africa instead of India. ATRs are expected to capture the attention and cooperation of students. However, is the DOE considering that it is frustrating for students to be getting different topics from what they are expecting.
Isn't it clear that the obvious objective of the lesson, in the DOE's eyes, is not to carry out the local administration's lesson, but to carry out the ATR's own intruding lesson? This is an expectation that pressures the ATR to challenge and undercut the authority of the school, the authority of the teacher. And it misserves the students. Just as parents are recognizing that the point of standardized tests are not to judge students, but to judge teachers, parents ought to recognize that the DOE's aim is not to give students a substitute lesson, but to turn students into guinea pigs for a gotcha game against teachers. Why should students consent to being guinea pig tools of the DOE instead of students of the topic that they came to class for? Principals, the absent teachers, parents and students themselves ought to feel insulted and unrepresented in this absurd DOE policy.
The second outrage is that the UFT has backed the DOE at every step of this that should offend every one of the parties mentioned above. The UFT at the the once a year group forums for ATRs and in its instructions to ATRs backs the DOE in this mandate that the ATR intrude on the student's scheduled topic and intrusively bring in their own topic. The UFT has not taken the position of opposing field supervisors on principle, nor has it opposed on principle the idea that field supervisors can get away with observing teachers out of license. In its failure to oppose the observations it is obvious that the UFT is backing the DOE's position and opposing the ATRs' position.
Just why does the UFT support the DOE instead of its own members? Isn't this ironic, as the ATR UFT members are paying dues to an organization that backs central DOE, against the interests of the substituting teacher, the absent teacher, the local administrators, the students and the parents?
Is it any wonder that teachers are pursuing class action lawsuits against the DOE? Isn't it obvious that the union isn't representing them and that they are having to resort to representing themselves?