Hello, ATRs are suing

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).

IMPORTANT NOTE:

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... 
NO ONE HAS AN ANSWER... WHYYYY??? 
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.

WE NEED A GRIEVANCE AGAINST THE UNION: IT HAS FAILED TO BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH. IT HAS FAILED TO COMMUNICATE. ONCE PER YEAR, AT MEETINGS THAT ARE ILL-ANNOUNCED, IS NOT SUFFICIENT. ISN'T THIS LESS FREQUENT THAN THE LEGAL REQUIREMENT? ARE THERE ANY ATRS REPRESENTING US IN THE NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE DOE? IF SO, WHO ARE THEY? WHEN DO THESE REPS MEET WITH THE DOE? Isn't it interesting that other UFT members are better informed and have more frequent meetings?

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.