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

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Weingarten defended ATRs' reputation - We need that today

When ATRs were disparged nine years by Joel Klein and the DOE, then president of the UFT Randi Weingarten defended ATRs' reputation:
"These are good teachers, mostly from closing schools. But rather than create a win-win situation, the system - despite repeated requests - refused to deal with these issues."
She recognized that the school funding system helped prejudice against the hiring of ATRs. The UFT argued that in creating the Fair Student Funding formula the DOE created a disincentive for principals to hire teachers. The UFT reported:
"The lawsuit argues that the DOE essentially shifted from an age-neutral system to one that has a disparate impact on older teachers."
[Sources: 'The New York Teacher,' approximately April, 2008]
Saturday the New York Times published a front page attack on ATRs. As the NYC Educator blog pointed out in 'Doing to the New York Times What the Times Does to ATR Teachers,' the Times engaged in broad stereotyping. The blog piece pointed out numerous instances of gross failures in professionalism in the Times' piece. While every professions has their bad apples, stereotyping a class of teachers is wrong. It is improper and unprofessional for the Times to engage in stereotyping.

There was placement of ATRs in NYC schools up until the 2011 to 2012 academic year, with none of the concerted media attack we see today --something that the DOE and the UFT conveniently ignore today. There was no rotation, a fraudulent program whereby both the DOE and the UFT argued that this would help expose ATRs' skills to schools, enabling them to get picked up --when both entities knew that ATRs face slim chance of placement, given the financial incentive for administrators to go with inexperienced teachers. Rotation (jobs program of field suervisors for displaced CSA members) was a compromise that only came up because Bloomberg wanted to end Last In, First Out., similar to today: the media was running stories contending that veteran teachers were worse than newer ones, and were an impediment to ideal staffing. Again, Weingarten has argued at the national level that students do better with experienced teachers.

The treatment of ATRs was actually better under Joel Klein than under Carmen Farina. Oh, how new times create new thinking!

The teachers and counselors in the New York City Department of Education Absent Teacher Reserve are waiting for the UFT leadership's response to the attack on the dignity and reputation of ATRs.

ATRs, what would you write in response to the Times' calumny?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Do You REALLY Believe That? – In Which the Refurbished ATR Calls Bullsh** on all the Bullsh**

The plan was to enjoy my summer, clean out the basement, and go on a few college visits with my daughter. Yeah, storm clouds are brewing for ATRs, but I made a solemn vow to stay above it all, not allow it to claim any real estate in my head, and enjoy my time off. That worked for a little while, but now the school year is in full swing and the press in on the hunt for the next “bad teacher” story.
So the Times, the Post, and Chalkbeat started banging the drum against ATRs. How we need to “find a job”. How we are “without full time positions”. That there must be “reasons why (we) are not hired”. Nicole Thomas even went so far as to voice her fear that her child may actually be given an ATR for a teacher in her school, and is “very concerned”. And of course, Kate Taylor at the Times had to join the party with this beauty of a hatchet job, and the Editorial Board of the NY Post us up in arms that we may actually be teaching children soon (the horror – teachers TEACHING children!), so now I’ve got to set the record straight.
I feel you, Nicole and Kate. I do. I mean, WHY, ladies, would you want a veteran teacher who has been working with children successfully for YEARS, and who, you know, passed classes and exams and stuff, in “high needs” schools? Much better to have a newbie 23 year old with a sociology degree who wants to help the little brown children by doing some “good in the “hood” before heading off to becoming a charter school principal or investor at Goldman Sachs. And they all look so alike (matching ponytails and sloppy buns, sundresses, and flip flops) that they are virtually interchangeable! So much so that the kids won’t even know when one leaves after a month and is replaced by another one!
I’m going to let you in on a few ATR secrets, Ladies. Just between us. Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first. ATRs do not have horns and tails. We do not eat young children for lunch (or dinner). We are not the child molesters you see on TV or on flyers in your local deli. We do not spend our evenings plotting how to milk the system and avoid helping children. Sorry to ruin it for you, but we do what other teachers do. We get up, fight traffic to get to work, do our jobs, and fight more traffic to come home and take care or our own families, get the car washed, pay the cable bill, and occasionally go to dinner and a movie. Yet, you make claims that are patently ABSURD about us. Given that I have a particular affection for both theater of the absurd AND the absurdity of life, allow me to point out the ridiculousness of the claims being made against ATRs.
Let’s start with the common fallacy that ATRs “lost a job”. That’s news to me and every other ATR I know. I’ve never been fired, suspended, disciplined, or laid off. I’ve never been on unemployment. I get up and I go to work every day. I am a tenured Reading Specialist with the New York City Department of Education. That is my job. I get paid from the NYC DOE twice a month because it is my job. The fact is that the DOE does not ALLOW me to do the job for which I was hired. My job is to teach children who struggle with reading, to read. But, when I go to work every day, I am given a sub schedule, or I cover teacher preps, or I am the second teacher in an ICT class. So, to say I do not have a job is absurd. I have one. I am just not permitted to do it. And that is not my problem. It is the DOE’s.
It is also said that ATR teachers are “without full time positions”. Again, this is not true. We go to work daily and teach full schedules. Five periods a day, every day. That is a FULL TIME position. I get paid my FULL TIME salary because, Nicole and Kate, I work FULL TIME. The fact that I am not being given work that correlates with my job title is, again, not my problem and not under my control. I cannot give myself classes or groups of students. Administrators do that.
My dear ladies, you insinuate that ATRs are guilty of crimes but are unable to be fired. That is an absurd statement. Any teacher who is found guilty during a 3020a is NOT sent to the ATR. What happens to them is called “FIRING”. Any teacher who is an ATR after a 3020a is there because the 3020a did NOT find CAUSE for termination. You know, it’s that whole guilty vs. not guilty thing. Like Law and Order. But with real teachers, not actors. Before the ATR they would be simply placed back in their classrooms. But the ATR now provides a very nice dumping ground for teachers a principal wants to be rid of. It’s brilliant, actually. Make some sh** up about the teacher, and even if they win the 3020a because the principal lied her behind off, you STILL have that teacher out of your hair (and off your payroll) because they will be dumped into the ATR. Never mind that many principals want to be rid of certain teachers because they have issues. Issues like, oh, let’s see…. maybe being in a position that the principal has earmarked for a crony, or maybe the principal has a bunch of sorority sisters she has promised jobs, or maybe the teacher is making too much money coupled with too much seniority, which makes it impossible to just excess the teacher. Maybe this teacher knows her contractual rights and insists on abiding by them. Maybe she tells other teachers what their rights are and calls bullsh** when she see it. Or this teacher may even be planning to run against the chapter leader you have in your pocket and may actually win, messing up your ability to ignore the contract. Any of those reasons are enough to get a principal to trump up bogus charges against a teacher. You see, my dears, principals can be vindictive, power drunk dictators who will stop at nothing to create a staff of syncophants. But you’d never know that from reading Chalkbeat, the New York Post, or the Times, because, according to these publications, all principals are above reproach, all the time, and want nothing more than to run schools where rainbow unicorns run the halls, and everyone emits rose scented farts.
Now, I’m sure your StudentsFirstNY friends, you’re The74 buddies, and your Families for Excellent Schools pals will disagree. Because when you are taking Gates and Walmart money and cozy up to Betsy DeVos, things get filtered through the prism of cash. But my dear ladies, have no fear. If your child is given an ATR teacher this September, she or he will be in good hands, regardless of who his or her parent is. We’ve been doing this a long time, and believe it or not, we’ve got this.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Come to an ACRs and ATRs workshop, this Saturday, 10/14

As you know, we are under attack this year as never before. We need to strategize on surviving this year.
Come to an ACRs (absent counselor reserve -guidance counselors, social workers, psychologists) and ATRs workshop,
this Saturday, 10/14, 10:15 am to 12:15 pm at PS 58, 330 Smith Street, Brooklyn. Two blocks north of the Carroll Street station G train --this weekend on a construction reroute: the D train as it replaces the F train in Brooklyn, including at the station. See the map below the following event flier.
Sponsored by the More Caucus-UFT.
The pertinent lines this weekend:

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Why won't the UFT fight for the ATRs? & other questions that ATRs should pose at the official UFT meetings

New York City is poised to do a multi-barrelled assault on teachers: ATRs are being put into the classroom at inappropriate time (mid-October) –holding some teaching positions as vacancies until then is wrong for the kids, as they will have to endure the rocky transition from one teacher to another, a little more than a month into the term. And ATRs are being placed without proper training in Danielson or the Common Core standards.

Secondly, Carmen Farina and Randy Asher (the new chief supervisor of ATRs) have openly declared that the city is aiming to drastically thin the herd, by possibly 50 percent. Sure, this is wrapped in language of "reducing" the pool; but ATRs have heard too many stories of able ATRs being harassed out of their positions. The "reduction" plan smells to the ATRs like a liquidation plan.

The buzz in the newspapers just seems too coincidental. Most of the city non-TV media outlets, including most of the daily newspapers, were running stories about problem teachers returning to the classroom. The one after another pacing of the stories suggests that the DOE might have ignited this with a press release of talking points. This is virtually designed to create a base of hostile parents resenting “those teachers teaching my child," which is sure to set up teachers for trouble in an already challenging assignment, being force placed in October.

The UFT totally failed the ATRs by letting this media smear campaign go on without an equally loud union campaign defending the ATRs. The union should have pointed out that the teachers in the pool that had faced charges (usually around one-fourth of the Absent Teacher Reserve pool) have been exonerated. The city’s placing “problem marks” on teachers is double jeopardy (a subsequent attempt to try and punish someone that has already been cleared of charges, something that is illegal in the United States to impose on the accused). Those ATRs that had been accused have been found as not deserving to be fired. The UFT needs to make the point that not all accusations against teachers are true and that the bar for getting teachers charged with something under Bloomberg was dropped really low. And, the UFT needs to acknowledge and publicize the fact that the majority of ATRs are from schools that had closed down or had lost numbers of teaching positions.

Randy Asher's own problematic history needs to be brought up. He was "managing" Brooklyn Tech High School while he was slow and inept to work on some creepy teachers that we were in need of punitive action. New York magazine reported his history in "Brooklyn Tech Student Sues City Over Creepy, Cross-dressing Teacher." Yet, the city cooperates with the principals union in making sure that truly problem administrators will always find a new job. So, instead of firing Asher or demoting him to an AP position or a classroom position, he is empowered with drastically "thinning the herd" of ATRs. This is very hypocritical for someone with such poor professional judgment in his prior DOE administration job.

In fact, now with Farina’s new get extremely tougher campaign the DOE is taking a very hostile tone by putting letters in files against teachers that have had bathroom challenges. This case involves the DOE actually penalizing a teacher that has bowel difficulties. It's bad enough having embarassing toilet "accidents;" but this penality is additionally humiliating. The bar has dropped even lower than the Bloomberg era.

Then, we have the issue of ATRs and supervision. How is it that ATRs are going to have double supervision (the UFT is cooperating with extension of the field supervisor pursuit of ATRs, even while they have been assigned for a half year or nearly a whole year to a regular assignment in a school). ATRs are going to be supervised by principals and by field supervisors. It is unfair in relation to regularly assigned teachers who do not have to essentially face two principals. And common sense will say that however the principal feels is how the Field Supervisor will treat the teacher. This is not neutral. The principal & Field Sup plan is a tag teaming and the UFT is expecting the ATRs to be gullible for falling for this.

The DOE and the UFT have had the side agreement in the works for assignment and supervision of ATRs settled for a few months now. Why did the union allow months to elapse before properly briefing us on the new changes? The union's very unprofessional procrastination on a very important task is irresponsible and is leaving ATRs vulnerable to a weak transition back to regular classroom assignments.

Here are just some of the other questions that ATRs should pose to the UFT's ATR liasions next week:

*Why did the union agree to these conditions of working under Danielson, Advance and Common Core, when we were often denied the professional development on these topics? To boot, we were often assigned to cover teachers that were getting training in these skill areas.

*When is the union or the DOE going to hold training sessions --on paid time-- on learning all the different evaluation related terms, such as MOSLs, baseline assessments; and preliminary evaluation interviews with principals? The UFT is setting us up to failure if it fails to train us on these very essential questions.

*Why doesn’t UFT stand up for ATRs when they are getting smeared in the media? The DOE talking point is "unwanted" teachers; yet, until the UFT gave up seniority transfers with the 2005 contract, forced placement was the rule. Read here and here. In fact, until Bloomberg/Walcott began rotation in the 2011-2012 year, ATRs were placed or "forced" on principals. The UFT forgets institutional history and allows the DOE and the media to frame the narrative. The UFT's reticence helps keep alive the DOE's and the media's myth that we can't get hired if we try.

*When will the UFT step up to bat on our getting seniority for job openings? The city hires new teachers when experienced ATRs are available.

*Why won't the UFT give us straight answers about how many ATR pool members get truly hired or picked up by schools? They dodge and refer to ATRs as being assigned. They always promote sending our resume around or shining in our performance. But ATRs know many of their own kind and no of hardly any that ever get picked up.

*Why is the UFT always holding these "informational meetings" at 4:00 on days when we're required to stay at schools until some time between 3:35 or 3:50? (And why was one almost held right before a major religious holiday?)

*The city is openly saying that Asher’s task is to thin the herd. Why isn’t the union challenging this?

*Why is the union still tolerating no guarantee of equal bathroom access and elevator key access as is given to any other staff in the schools?

*When will the union fight for ending the fair funding formula?
It is unacceptable that the UFT repeats the same myth as the city, that the only reason why principals won’t hire ATRs is because they are not fresh enough. The truth is that it’s the ATRs’ salaries that keeps principals from considering ATRs, and plenty of principals will openly admit it. The Chaz blogger has laid out some very good proposals for ensuring principals will follow requirements to truly hire us.  Of course, the essential change is that the UFT must return to funding for the whole school on the teacher unit principal. See this quick, clear explanation of teacher units that Bloomberg/Klein ended. The 2007 creation of the fair student funding is a huge incentive to hire the cheaper teachers and avoid experienced teachers. As such, it is an attack on seniority.

The Bronx and Staten Island UFT informational meetings for ATRs have happened. Here are the remaining meetings, all held from 4:00 to 6:00 pm at UFT boro offices: 

Manhattan, 52 Broadway
Tuesday, Oct. 10
Queens, 97-77 Queens Blvd.
Tuesday, Oct. 10
Brooklyn, 335 Adams St.
Wednesday, Oct. 11

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Don't get a heart attack - Chalkbeat published a decent article on ATRs

The local NYC media has actually published an article on ATRs that is sympathetic, not a hatchet job.

She let ATRs speak, without maligning them. We just need to spread the word that Bill De Blasio is no more compassionate towards we ATRs than Mike Bloomberg was. De Blasio's field supervisors are unfairly judging teachers in fly-by observations.

And the UFT on the issue of this fall's coming placements? It makes behind closed door deals with the city DOE on ATRs' fates, without the participation of real ATRs; and it has yet to allow the election of any representatives of ATRs' choosing.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

ATR to Daily News: Seasoned Teachers Are the Best!

In response to a steady fuselage of media smears against the teachers in the NYC Absent Teacher Reserve, a teacher wrote a letter, which the Daily News fortunately printed:

Brooklyn: Re Nicole Thomas’ Op-Ed “Don’t force a dud teacher on my kid” (Aug. 2): Thomas is either unaware of or willfully ignoring the facts about forced placements of teachers from the Absent Teacher Reserve pool. ATRs are all teachers whose salaries are near the top of the scale because of their long experience. I have never met a young teacher in the ATR pool. Most of the ATRs I have met can teach circles around many current, younger teachers, and research shows that, other factors being equal, experienced teachers are more effective. However, the Department of Education, which doesn’t want to pay our salaries, has vilified experienced teachers who are in the ATR pool due to school closings or reorganizations. Principals who don’t want to pay our salaries often give us unsatisfactory ratings to force us out. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg changed the school funding formula for their teaching staff so that hiring experienced teachers became a liability. Thomas’ child would probably be lucky to get a former ATR as a teacher. The real problem is that we are being foisted onto schools where we are not wanted without our consent, to work for principals who, in many cases, want us to fail and who create or exacerbate the conditions that make their schools hard to staff. Gina Trent

Monday, July 3, 2017

ATRs, in a conundrum of being stuck in the DOE hustle

An ATR weighs in on our potentially disastrous future.

The concern at this point is that unfortunately, ATRs are EERILY still in the same... position, conflicting scenarios, stigmas, intrusions, undermining schisms, and disadvantaged investigations. 

Clearly, by ATRs not unifying, demanding their UNION rights are lead consistently down a rabbit hole - ALL FOR A PAYCHECK, which has not put everyone into an end of the year conundrum.   

That being, RIGHT BACK WHERE ATRs STARTED - same place, same position. 

However, this fall, in 2017-2018, all the rugs will be pulled from under everyone's feet, and these fighting gloves will not have padding for knuckle protection. They will HIT RAW and HARD!!!  

WE'VE been reading, watching and listening to "gossip" from various sources whether colleagues or from those who have access to UFT meetings, and suddenly, while reading over the ATR BLOGS lately - NOTHING HAS CHANGED - just more "positioning and posturing" for reliable rhetoric.  Sadly, some reputable ATR blogs have even folded because of reasons that are understood and reflective of the current climate for being outspoken or dismayed by not seeing progress, as expected.

When an opportunity to strike with a lawyer was offered, a VAST MAJORITY went into hiding, and the few who were willing realized that the numbers were not their for a CLASS ACTION. 

So now, here ATRs are AGAIN - finishing 2016-17, with NOTHING NEW and no battle won. 

While our complaining to AMY and MIKE only proved futile or mixed in reaction, the funny part, the DOE somehow listened by extending ATRs' rotations, as the ATR supervisors became savvier on how to write ATRs up with even more "precision", whereby, many have now come to realize, their only option is FORCED RETIREMENT before their justified 2018 raise and retro.  HHHMMMM..... 
Wouldn't this seem counter productive - THE DOE LISTENING, and then "pushed" their agenda by sending out "hatchets" by ATR supervisors.

So here ATRs are sitting and waiting, sitting and waiting, sitting and waiting, as the 2017-18 contract is being negotiated, and WILDLY ENOUGH during this waiting, ATRs were offered a 'SEVERANCE PACKAGE" that ATRs WERE HOPING WOULD BE OFFERED, but only finding, it was worse than the one offered in 2014.  Contemplating this, ATRs WILL SIT and now twiddle thumbs, because this was meant to throw a bone to those complaining for a way out, but only got a LAMB DUCK for their final ouster.

As many laughed and many just screamed at their reps... AND GUESS WHAT??  

ATRs found out that NO ONE WILL LISTEN TO COMPLAINTS because UNITY doesn't see you as worth their effort - hence, aka "2nd Class citizens" - and it's effectively the NEW NORMAL for ATRs to be circulated as a "SECRET COMMODITY," never mind the ones that will be joining the flock this SEPTEMBER 2017, following their getting excessed last week.  

Those teachers who received their EXCESS LETTERS are in bewilderment because they know of their fate. and they realize that the OPEN MARKET IS A SHAM for any teacher over 12 years (OHHHH BTW this is not AGE DISCRIMINATION because "excessing" is part of downsizing).


With this now known, and put into the news over and over again, as teachers wait for "retirement" after 2018 (double increase raise), ALL SCHOOLS' BUDGETS will no longer be able to handle SENIOR TEACHERS over 15 years (102K) because their school budgets are being reduced again, and many schools are turning to TITLE 1 to fill in for these severe cuts which means ALL SCHOOLS will face new challenges with "under performing" students who are "dragging" many schools into RENEWAL REFORM, and as you've read in the news recently, this, too, has become a SHAM under the DEBLASIO/FARINA regime.

On top of ALL THIS, COMMON CORE is receiving backlash and may be reformed again. It's getting a new name in NY this year. So what does this mean to our learning curve... GUESS WHAT... 
This is because we are in another election year. and both, DEBLASIO/FARINA have to RESELL THEIR OLD RENEWAL PACKAGE as "NEW AND IMPROVED"!!!   Funny, WHO will buy it....???        Notice, CUOMO isn't....

Moreover, if you look at the next contract negotiations this year and going into next year, ASK THIS: will it be ANOTHER (9) YEARS??  HHHMMM...  If so, then ALL TEACHERS (other than newbies) at this point in time will be in jeopardy because SCHOOLS' BUDGETS will not match these drastic increases or reforms. MIND YOU: Small schools are going to "hire and fire" newbies, like slaughtered cattle as "aging teachers" will not have many choices because the LARGER SCHOOLS who could handle bigger budgets, will only wait until their SENIOR TEACHERS RETIRE (freeing up money for the "2 for 1" teacher trade off). It's not rocket science for any APO or PRINCIPAL. 

BTW - knowing the ATR scale (free 1st year / 2nd year 50% / 3rd yr trade off onto school budget), this still hasn't proven an incentive for HIRING SCHOOLS - ATRs who are in the pool either have to step up their "interviewing skills" or the "rotations" will just become more demoralizing and/or cataclysmic. 

Meanwhile, some NYC teachers will flock to charters only to maintain a paycheck, then only realizing that they can be potentially "fired" because they are not "ROBOTS", or they REALLY EXPERIENCE that there is NO UNION PROTECTION (even though you had it but didn't see it in action). Hence, another dilemma for any one teh who teaches in a public/private sector and find themselves caught between a failing career or assed out!!!

Now, the new trend for ALL TEACHERS is reinvent their "certifications" and becoming more valuable with added Content Specialties to make you more "marketable" because NEWBIES are capitalizing off of this trend - i.e. ELA with Sp-ED Cert / Math with Sp-ED cert / Math with Science cert. (Multiple certifications are NOW the new "golden tickets").  

See this little 'secret' is being withheld when interviewing in this current climate, that more principals are looking for "ADDED VALUE" in certifications where they get more value from a teacher with SEVERAL certifications rather than just ONE single Content Specialty.

With many ATRs not staying in one position, one vicious cycle and one conundrum after another are being picked up by some schools which begs these questions:
1) Should ATRs go outside their districts to be recognized for their talents?
2) If ATRs are not being picked up with the new incentives, why isn't the UNION 
   coordinating with the CSA on the benefits of these "new incentives"?
3) Can ATRs truly survive further degradation, and not have anyone "empathize or 
    sympathize" as colleagues?
4) As Union factions are "listening" and "pushing for reform", their efforts are 
    materializing, but when will their "solutions" start taking effect, as ATRs are 
    waiting in hidden fear and isolation?? 

Just know, advocates / lawyers / public scrutiny are constantly willing to fight for ATRs cause and plight BUT in 2016 / 2017 the DRIVING MOMENTUM HAS RADICALLY CHANGED TO THE POINT OF "SILENCING OF THE LAMBS"... Could it be that ATRs screams are seemingly ONLY heard when they are "SILENT" .... BTW, isn't this another "conundrum", too???

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Imagine this- If there is a teacher shortage, then here are the causes

Good morning, a teacher's view - 
Imagine this... If there is a teacher shortage, then here are the causes... 
1) online education 
2) unions no longer effective 
3) widespread corruption in education 
4) administrators are no longer educators, but "bosses with egos" 
5) training doesn't match outcomes 
6) educators are treated second class to students 
7) charters are treating "teaching" like it's a job, not a career 
8) our senior educators who are leading us are no longer in it for "education" 
9) teachers who are left are not able to share their experiences, because they're being "phased out" 
10) innovation to teach is being stale, because educators are becoming "processors" not "facilitators" 
10) technology is replacing "hands-on" learning - it's become visual, not tactile 
11) salaries from state to state doesn't match the outcome expectations 
12) if admins are "far removed" from the class, then who can teachers learn from...?? 
13) NEW teachers don't have the "patience" 
14) TRAINING has become "fend for yourself" attitude 
15) students are running the show 
16) teachers are "glorified" baby-sitters in some instances 
17) what are the incentives when unions are no longer a priority?? 
18) teaching paths are no longer an incentive (teaching paths no longer exist)
19) why are teachers staying because now it's a matter of "paying bills"?? 
20) while RESPECT is earned, and if you're treated like a "commodity," then you're only as good as what you get or deserve.... 
Sadly, this profession has taken on a whole new "expectation," and if DEVOS opens the doors for more charters, then UNIONS will only be a "saving" of jobs in the public sector BUT not for the "private." Hence, "turnover" will be like any industry - a mass exodus. If students are no longer advocates for better teaching, then those teachers who are good can only get paid, but only so much because the SALARIES don't match the effort or the demand!!!!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Chicago rubberizes teacher activist who challenges Chicago Public Schools policies

Just as in New York City and Los Angeles, the Chicago Public Schools is disciplining a teacher activist.

It appears the the district is targeting the elementary school teacher over her opt-out advocacy. From Chicago's CBS TV affiliate, "Teacher, Vocal CPS Critic Faces Firing, Calls Attempt A ‘Witch Hunt’"
A special education teacher who has been a vocal detractor of the policies at Chicago Public Schools has accused the district of going on a “witch hunt” after she was suspended and told CPS is moving to fire her.
CPS officials have confirmed the district is attempting to fire Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy teacher Sarah Chambers, for allegedly violating state and city school board policies.
The district would not elaborate on the charges against Chambers, but she said she got an email just before spring break accusing her of encouraging a student to opt out of the PARCC standardized test required for grades 3-8 and high school.
“I was in complete and utter shock. I mean, I’m a distinguished teacher. I’ve been rated distinguished by all six principals I’ve had. I’ve never been written up in my life,” she said. “They wouldn’t even tell me in person.”
From Chicago's CBS TV affiliate

Monday, February 13, 2017

Why is the UFT allowing supervision of ATRs by two different types of supervisor? Or 'The stealth revision of the contract'

Beware the agreements that the UFT gets from the NYC DOE. It usually means something toxic has become in the power of the DOE. Witness the end of seniority transfer. Witness the forced overtime at the schools under the guise of professional development.

Now we are hearing all over that the DOEUFT has a new protocol, that as part of the end of rotation of ATRs that we will be observed by the roving field supervisor as well as the school administration. Clearly, this is a breach of the contract.

Notice how there have been big changes in the ATR experience almost immediately after the new chief supervisor of ATRs, Randy Asher (former principal at Brooklyn Technical High School, reviewed here) took over. ATRs are being held in one school until June. And ATRs are now being told that their field supervisor will be observing as well as the school administration.


Apparently, the UFT has allowed the DOE to circumvent the contract. What other bags of tricks are coming? Why did the DOE just drop people into assignments last Monday without so much a notice of what they would be doing? Couldn't emails have been sent alerting teachers what they would be teaching? Or couldn't the field supervisors have sent these messages? Will the school administration try to use Danielson/Advance on us? These are evaluation systems that ATRs have not had proper training or introduction for. Why are ATRs not getting meetings of the sort that we get in October, to clarify the new protocols for the use and observation of ATRs? Why are we getting no official statement to ATRs?

Of course, this leads to a host of other questions, many of which ATRs have been asking for quite a while. Is it any wonder? This is regarding a union-city relationship that has our leaders openly endorsing mayor Bill De Blasio without so much as a membership discussion and vote, a mayor that is really Term Four of Mike Bloomberg, great chutzpah when the city is targeting teachers just as fiercely as ever. Why don't we have a page in the UFT's 'New York Teacher'? Why don't we have a chapter? Why don't we have clear official stats on the numbers of teachers truly placed (not simply temporarily placed for a month or until June)? Why do we get no information about changes from the district representatives, and instead only get happy "how are you?" visits, free of any meaningful substance as to the new topsy turvy conditions we've been thrown into?

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Former ATR sets things straight with the New York Post on pass-fail rates and college readiness

A happily retired ATR, pens another on point letter to 'The New York Post.'

  The NY Post article by Alex Taylor and Selim Algar, focuses on Bronxdale HS, where 76% of students graduate but only 4% are ready for college. The school scored an "excellent" rating  in the DOE's "rigorous instruction" category. Red flag?

  This discrepancy between graduation and college ready data is common in our public schools.

  Why is there there such a disconnect between graduation and college ready data?

 The reason is that our public schools are not holding our students to high academic standards and have created a climate where students do not have to become educated to earn a diploma. Homework is no longer important nor studying for exams. Social promotions allow students to move on and graduate through inflated grades, low standards and easy "credit recovery" options at the high school level Discipline rules have been watered down so that students are setting the tone and teachers have no backing from administrators.Our middle schools have the lowest achievement levels. Absenteeism and cutting of classes is rampant and usually not a criteria for passing.

  Those who run our school system are afraid to hold our students to high standards in academics and behavior because they know there will be student resistance. Students have become accustomed to low expectations and easy work over the years. They know rules and requirements can be broken with little consequence.

  It is time to be honest about the faults of our public schools. If not, charter schools will continue to grow The Charters that emphasize and enforce standards and demand an educational climate for learning will have success.

 No amount of money will improve our public schools. Blaming our teachers for the failure of students to learn is dishonest. Giving "lip service" to parent involvement while undermining School Leadership Teams as governing bodies is hypocritical.

 The public school system is rotting away and will not be transformed until we have courageous leadership that is ready to rock the system.

James Calantjis

Friday, January 13, 2017

DeBlasio administration elevates DOE admin to cull the ATR or what?

The Daily News yesterday posted the news that Randy Asher, previously the principal at Brooklyn Technical High School, where his son attended, will get a new $185,298 job with the mission of thinning the ATR herd. You can expect that with that $25,000 raise over his principalship he will have an incentive to make big changes for the ATRs.

Now, we have to call this for what it is: a De Blasio appointment. He has mayoral control. What he wants, happens. The News reported Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina as making the appointment, but we really know who chose this.

The Ben Chapman story is really bad reporting. It doesn't pursue exactly how the city will decide who to hire and who to not hire. Is this thinning the ATR herd to be a culling by dubious means, bogus charges or bogus observations? Interestingly A major problem is one of licensure. Many people in the pool have seen their licenses become irrelevant, as the DOE has slashed the positions of librarian, trades teacher, music teacher, languages other than English or Spanish, with the decision that no one is interested in music anymore or no one is employed as a cosmetologist or an electrician any more. Yet, the city blames the teacher for the fact that it has seemingly destroyed the positions for the far foreseeable future.

Then there are the people in the humanities fields. The DOE has an oversupply of English and social studies teachers. There will be many people in these positions who will not be able to find a job as easily as the math or science teachers.

The Daily News writer really naively uncritically bought the interpretation of the chancellor or her press agents. This article is little more than a press release. If Chapman did a more proper job he would have pursued the question of how the salary differentials are huge incentives to not permanently hire the high salary ATRs. He should have recognized the issue of Fair Student Funding (see here at the Chaz blog for instance), which means that teachers are not funded as units as they were before 2007, but by the school out of a restricted budget. Therefore, the principals are disinclined to hire veteran teachers such as ATRs. The present rotational farce could be eliminated by placing teachers, as was done until fall, 2011. So, we see an example of how De Blasio is a continuation of Mike Bloomberg and actually worse than the first nine years of Bloomberg.

We do not know the devil in the details. Will the DOE-UFT tell teachers to find a position in five, six, ten or twelve months, as happens in Chicago or Washington --or else lose their position?
Why has no one ever compared the New York City teacher excessing situation, in contrast to the practices in other cities? Is it that the truth would be embarassing --that experience, seniority, is a help, not a hindrance, in retaining a position. See the numerous descriptions at the site of the National Council of Teacher Quality (NCTQ), most recently in 2013, at "Tr3 Trends: Teacher Excessing and Placement."
And where is the union in all this? Why didn't Chapman get any quote from anyone in the union or in the union's opposition caucus, MORE?

How will the union respond to this? The changes appear to be circumventing the DOE-UFT contract and any speedy terminations will circumvent civil service protections. 

This is probably just a PR move destined to serve the mayor and the union. Bill De Blasio can claim that he's helping the unfortunate ATRs and getting rid of the "unfit" ones. And Mike Mulgrew can claim victory of saving ATRs' jobs. The union will likely fail to challenge any of this, as it seeks to maintain cordial relations with the administrators' union, and as it seeks to maintain a chummy, uncritical relationship with the administration of mayor de Blasio.