ATRs, the unrepresented -- no elected representatives in the UFT

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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.


  1. Brilliant! Unfortunately, this is the inconvenient truth that these ladies do not want to hear! Great post.

  2. They know the truth, its a hit piece

  3. Now if only it's printed in chalk beat times or perhaps the post! Great piece! Very cathartic!

  4. And that's the thing. We know these are hit pieces. But the UFT won't defend ATRs in the press? Reduce my dues then. If I'm not getting support I shouldn't have to pay as much.

  5. The UFT is full of crooks.

  6. If you are a NYC DOE ATR, please join our group on Facebook...ATR Support Group- and please check your private facebook inbox to answer a series of questions after requesting to join.