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 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


  1. No doubt- this Farina's Final Solution for the ATRs.

  2. Corruption and age discrimination. They want cheap teachers to replace rhe experienced teachers.