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

Hello, ATRs are suing

Sunday, October 9, 2016

ATR's letter, on legal issues we face

A letter by an ATR to attorney Maria Chickedantz:

Dear Ms. Chickedantz,

   I thought I would present my views on the ATR issue to you by e-mail, for discussion at the April 20th scheduled meeting.

   I recently retired after 25+ years as a secondary high school Social Studies teacher. From March 2011 until my retirement, I was an ATR, rotating among Queens High Schools.

   I contend that the DOE treatment of ATRs has been arbitrary and capricious, violating the UFT contract and resulting in discrimination in the work place.


1) There is no written policy by the DOE stating expectations and responsibilities for ATRs. The schools do not expect us to teach lessons or have lesson plans, yet many of the DOE roving supervisors do. As ATRs, we are substitutes, and are expected to carry out lesson materials that are left by the absentee teacher. It is accepted that it is the school's responsibility to provide lesson materials if none is left by the absentee teacher. Yet, there are roving supervisors who expect to see ATRs with generic lesson plans, teaching classes, even outside their lesson areas, which is unrealistic, setting up the teacher for failure. 

2) Again, without any written policy, the DOE allows the roving supervisors to observe an ATR in a teaching capacity, with a class and students the ATR is not familiar with. Again, this is arbitrary and capricious, setting the teacher up for failure. These observations have nothing to do with our job duties as ATRs, covering classes for absentee teachers. It also violates the UFT contract, Article 7A, which stipulates that teachers must have programs with specific subjects and classes. Since ATRs do not,they can not be fairly evaluated as teachers.

3) The evaluation system by roving supervisors is arbitrary and capricious because not every ATR is assigned one. In the three years roving supervisors  were in place, I had one only one year.

4) Principals and DOE abuse ATRs by using them to cover teaching  assignments with out hiring permanently. Principals are not charged for ATRs that are used provisionally and thus save money by dismissing them at end of semester.

5) Even though there are generally over 1000 ATRs in any given school year, the DOE discriminates by hiring between 4 and 5 thousand new teachers annually


DOE must place ATRs in available positions on a permanent basis by seniority, before hiring new teachers. In this way, they can be fairly evaluated like other teachers.This also solves the problem of an ATR pool for the future.

Thank you for your consideration in possible litigation on behalf of ATRs. The UFT does not choose to advocate for us.


James Calantjis


  1. This is long overdue people. We need wikileaks in on this as well and that would put the kabash on the whole bull crap

  2. I was speaking with a source who confidently told me the DOE is keeping the ATR pool because they need a reserve pool of educators including teachers, guidance counselors, social workers and secretaries fearing a huge shortage in the very near future. The ATR pool is being kept to have a "reserve" of educators when the huge shortage occurs. By having the Atr POOL THE DOE will be able dispense the pool to keep things going until the DOE can go overseas to recruit future educators. The situation is worse than any of us thought and the DOE is all over it. The result of the research has forced the DOE to keep the ATR pool as an insurance for the upcoming teacher shortage. So, when the shortage hits the ATR pool will be dispersed as the insurance the DOE needs to keep classrooms and social worker offices afloat. This makes perfect sense now and could possible explain why the DOE continued to keep the pool even after Bloomberg left. The data is pointing to a huge shortage if you look at education departments in higher education institutions. Translation, you better have insurance in the form of educators to fill the huge gaps that are feared to become a reality.

    1. Pure unadulterated horse manure.

  3. I am an ATR this year.
    This is also only my 3rd year in the DOE.
    I was hired (after teaching in a private school for 8yrs) into the DOE by a failing high school. I took the first job offered to me because I wanted to teach in the DOE.

    My wife teaches in the DOE...she has had the same principal since her first day 15+ yrs ago. There is little turnover in her school. That was my impression of the DOE.

    Boy was I wrong!

    We had 2 totally different administrations in my first 2 years. My first AP knew nothing of our discipline. I was never granted a leader teacher or mentor. It was literally trial by fire at times.

    Last year was better...observations from the new principal were effective & highly effective...being asked if I'd consider eventually being a model teacher. THIS is what I was waiting for; FINALLY someone recognized my hard work, my dedication, but also my passion for what I do................and then I was excessed after last year.

    I've never had a 311 complaint. I've never been in any incident with anyone, teacher, student, parent, or anyone else.

    How does someone who's effective, who's not tenured, who doesn't make 6 figures, who isn't working in the system 20+ years, who only has 2 years experience get excessed?

    Even after being chosen as a class of observation for QR & our scores in every category improved...even after I (like many co-workers) reapplied to be hired back for this school year....they kept 1 teacher from every department.

    I was excessed and placed in the ATR pool - however I am assigned 1 school for the entire year. I'm lucky in the sense that I have the same kids treating me with utter disrespect. This also happens to be a school where a teacher outside of my discipline quit before this school year started.

    I wasn't given any type of curriculum, any lessons, there are no textbooks - to say it is overwhelming is an understatement. Other ATR's I've met have told me not to worry its not my responsibility, yet I worry.

    I worry because I want to teach.
    I worry because I want to teach in my license.
    I worry because I want to be up for tenure eventually.
    I worry because no way, if this was my subject license, would these students be so disrespectful.
    I worry because it destroys your confidence.
    I worry because this mentally and emotionally (and at times physically) breaks you down where you feel like a shell of your former, exceptional self.
    I worry because I know my ATR status and my teaching in what was a failing school was in no way a reflection of my character or my being a quality teacher.
    I worry because I'm told "hit the open market, you teach _____ they will snatch you up immediately" and yet 60+ applications on open market landed me 1 interview.

    1 interview!

    You can't tell me that's all a result of my salary (again, I make under 6 figures).
    You can't tell me that's because of my inexperience (that's 10 years of teaching, 4 of which I was chairperson of my department, my resume clearly says I have been an adjunct professor).

    You can't tell me it has nothing to do with the school I came from.
    You can't tell me teachers in failing schools are worthless. I had the privilege of meeting some exceptional human beings who dedicated their lives to teaching students in troubled areas of the city. These were men & women who I have witnessed firsthand have the utmost compassion and patience with their classes. We all get grouped into a category that is a big red target on our backs.

    And yet a school's reputation for years of poor leadership can become your demise.

    And you wonder why 25% of newly hired quit by year 3?

  4. You won't achieve any change with the DOE/UFT until you win an age discrimination lawsuit.