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

Friday, December 20, 2013

NYC DOE holds Danielson training, but rotating ATRs need not apply

ATRs, the NYC DOE is holding a Danielson professional development workshop. Problem is, twice in the document there are statements that bar most displaced teachers.

...teachers who have used the Framework as a reflection tool for more than a year, ...
and referring to the new evaluation system,

These trainings are available to regularly appointed teachers rated under Advance and their UFT Representatives.

Notice also, the Saturday-exclusive schedule will exclude observant Jews and Seventh Day Adventists. This is not the first such instance. Will this continue under the new mayoral administration?

"A Deeper Understanding of the Danielson 2013 Framework for Teaching": Professional development for teachers  

Who should attend? This day-long session is designed for teachers who have used the Framework as a reflection tool for more than a year, including those teachers involved in the teacher effectiveness pilots and those who have attended previous full-day NYCDOE trainings led by the Danielson Group. (Schools are encouraged to send two colleagues as a team to promote professional dialogue and peer support.) This session features video of high school classroom practice. 

When are the upcoming sessions? (Click on the borough to register.) Saturday, January 11 from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. Visit the Advance Professional Development Calendar for additional dates.

What will this training cover? In this session, you will:
  • Explore how to use the Framework to support your development through reflection and conversations with your peers.
  • Prepare and share your reflections on an observed lesson (differentiated by grade band) in order to deepen your own knowledge of the Framework and to support your peers in engaging in professional conversations.
  • Study authentic artifacts of teaching practice and consider ways to demonstrate your own practice in Domains 1 and 4.
How to register: 
Please contact with any questions.

These trainings are available to regularly appointed teachers rated under Advance and their UFT Representatives. Please remember that your principal's approval is required to attend school-day sessions. Eligible staff who attend Saturday and winter break sessions will be eligible for per session.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Another blog's overview of ATRs, their history and situation: "A Look Inside the ATR Purgatory"

A journalist's history and analysis of the displaced teacher situation in New York City:

Originally from NYC's Best, Brightest, and Worst, May 19, 2013 

Life in Limbo: A Look Inside the ATR Purgatory


Polo Colon, 63, is wearing a spiffy brown suit–accessories include suspenders and a matching fedora. He orders camarones fritos, aguacate, and maduros (fried shrimp, sliced up avocado, and fried plantains)–all in Spanish, of course. He points to the small park outside the diner window, and describes the diversity and convenience of his neighborhood – Bushwick. He grew up in the area, attended Bushwick High School, and raised a family of his own there. Bushwick is his stomping grounds, he said. 
Just last week, Colon– a teacher in the New York City public school system since 1971–was asked to sign in at the middle school he was teaching at for the week rather than slide his attendance card across the board. For someone outside of the public school system, different ways of clocking in may seem meaningless, but it is telling of the hierarchy within the school’s staff: teachers with a permanent job assignment at a school can merely slide their card into the “present” box, whereas visiting teachers must sign in. 
“I told her [the secretary] that I’m only doing this for her,” he said.
For Colon, someone who has been a teacher for over forty years, being asked to “sign in” isn’t customary. But as a teacher in the Absent Teacher Reserve pool, the practices he would normally be awarded are expired.
Colon is one of approximately 800 ATRs roaming the New York City public school system. These teachers are no longer treated with respect – not by the United Federation of Teachers, and not by the Department of Education. The ATR pool is comprised of fully licensed, fully certified teachers who have lost their permanent job positions, typically because of school closures. They find themselves roaming from school to school on a weekly basis, essentially being assigned the work of a substitute teacher.
These teachers, who have devoted years of their lives teaching students in New York City’s public school system, are treated as dispensable and are reminded of their expendability everyday.
The absent teacher reserve serves as an intermediary between the guarantee of a permanent position and actually being laid off. Teachers in the ATR pool receive the same salary and benefits, but their new job description fits that of a substitute teacher. They are no longer employed by one public school, but are employed directly by the Department of Education, and float from school to school on a weekly basis.
In 2011, Mayor Bloomberg jeopardized the jobs of over 4000 teachers, with his contested policy of shutting down “failing” schools.” Through bargaining between the United Federation of Teachers and New York City’s Department of Education, the Absent Teacher Reserve was created in 2005, for teachers who found themselves in the “rubber room”– either unable to find a permanent job because of a closing school or because they were targeted for termination.
Sam, who chose to use a different name, has been a teacher in New York City for twelve years. One year after he transferred to a different middle school, it was shut down, and he became an ATR. “I’ve been an ATR for three years, and with this colocation situation, where the DOE uses one building for three to five schools, the original school loses teachers because it loses space for its students,” he said.
 Many of these ATRs are just like Colon, who has been a teacher for over forty years–teachers who have devoted years teaching, and are now unemployable.  This is because of the Department of Education’s “fair market funding formula,” [fair student funding or fair school funding] according to Norm Scott, a former New York City public school teacher. Scott, now retired, worked as a public school teacher from 1967 until he officially retired in 1997. Even after that, he continued to work in New York City public schools until 2005, coordinating robotics programs at schools in his district.
 “You could have a school full of $100,000 teachers, or full of $50,000 teachers. What Joel Klein (the former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education) did was penalize schools by limiting the number of teachers with these salaries and put a penalty on schools that hired these people,” Scott said. [The NYC DOE replaced the teacher unit formula with Fair Student Funding in 2007.]
Sam described the ATR position as a way to “deprofessionalize the profession, to weaken job seniority, and job security,” with, what is often, “a humiliating rotation.”
Colon began his career as a teacher in 1971, as an assistant preschool teacher at a daycare program in Harlem. “I just enjoyed it,” he said. “As a musician, I could do music and art with them–I just love watching children develop and helping them to develop.”
Soon after, Colon got married and had two daughters. Because of his family, Colon decided to further pursue his career in education. He became certified in Early Childhood and Early Childhood Education (degrees for teaching in preschools and elementary schools) and he earned a Common Branches License for teaching core subjects. He even completed the School Administrative Supervision and School District Administrative licenses for principal certification.
 In 1989, Colon began working at P.S. 120 in Bushwick. After seventeen years of working there, in 2006, he launched an investigation against the school’s new principal, Liza Caraballo. He accused her of violating the No Child Left Behind Act and the New York City Health Code.
 After the incident, Colon was assigned to a rubber room in downtown Brooklyn. He explained that the rubber room was full of teachers who had been charged with various things and were on their way to termination, but were still employed by the DOE.
The room was set up like a cafeteria, with long, six-person tables. Teachers could spend weeks or months there, but in many cases they were stuck in the rubber room for years. Since there were no students to teach, and no assignments to do, teachers would sit at the tables and either linger and waste time, or try their best to be productive.
“People wrote books–actual books,” said Colon. One woman, he explained, got a PHD, allowing her to get another teaching license.
Colon spent three years in the rubber room, seeing his colleagues come and go. He is finally able to work in schools again, and as an ATR, he is given weekly assignments,  never in one school for too long.
Marc Epstein taught history at Jamaica High School in Queens for 16 years, and in the 2011-2012 school year, he received a letter from the Department of Education informing him that he–along with half of his fellow teachers at Jamaica–were now a part of the Absent Teacher Reserve pool.
Epstein, who has continually written about violence in public schools, wrote a piece called “New York City Ronin Teacher,” which, after being published in the Huffington Post, found its way onto the blogs of ATRs, ATR community pages, and the websites of education reformers.
“At the end of the day the teacher-ronin [ATRs] are expendable. After all, when you go to the movies and buy popcorn, does it matter who puts the popcorn in the box, or if there is a new person behind the counter every three weeks?” Epstein wrote.
Sam recalled when he was told he would become an ATR. “It was a really curt debriefing. ‘Okay, we’ve lost some numbers, we had to let some people go,’ – that’s how it went,” he said. “it was a debriefing but it was a little too curt for my taste.
Feeling like a substitute teacher is inevitable for an ATR. Teachers aren’t even able to make their own classroom lesson plans.
“100k a year to do nothing,” said Colon. But he remains optimistic because he loves his students.  “I see myself as a specialist that comes in. I have to impress on [students] that I’m not just a sub.”
One of Colon’s greatest concerns as an ATR is that he finds the DOE takes no issue in violating its own health and safety codes. For the last few weeks, he has been teaching in middle schools, for which he does not have his license. He has reached out to the DOE and UFT in regards to the matter. All of his complaints have been ignored.
“We often get put into things that are outside of our licensed area,” said Sam, in reference to his weekly rotations. “We’re either doing the best we can under challenging curriculum if we’re working outside of our licensed area, or we’re bringing lessons that have been made up already for the grade level.”
However, ATRs also face struggles outside of the classroom.
“A lot of us struggle with the idea of being a substitute. Substitutes don’t have multiple years of experience, and aren’t entirely certified unless they’ve retired already,” said Sam. “But students don’t really refer to us as that–staff does. So we take that as a professional slight.”

[The NYE DOE and the UFT agreed on rotation in late June 2011. Guidance counselors and social workers began rotation in Fall 2012.]
Since the implementation of the ATR policy, forums and blogs have popped up all over the internet, not only criticizing the creation of the absent teacher reserve pool, but condemning Bloomberg’s idea of education reform. NYC ATR and NYC Rubber Room are two of the more well known blogs that cover news from the absent teacher reserve pool, and allow teachers in the pool to communicate with their fellow co-workers in the same situation.
Teachers in the absent teacher reserve pool do not have their own classroom, their own students, or their own community. And they have resorted to the internet to–a majority of the time–anonymously sending in accounts of their struggles in their new positions, just to cope.
Colon is not bitter despite what he has been through in his final years as a teacher. He is optimistic and is looking forward to finally retiring in Spring 2013, so he finally has time to pursue his musical interests.
However, the future for other ATRs remains bleak. The DOE recently implemented more teacher evaluations, especially for ATRs, which the UFT has supported. Norm Scott, who has worked alongside ATRs, explained the tension within teachers in schools.
“You walked into a school [as an ATR] and you were branded as being a loser,” he said. “They created this ATR system for teachers who could not get jobs and they vilified them. Each year it was a competition with the next round of ATRs, so people are being attacked as incompetent teachers.”
New York City’s Department of Education has hosted several job fairs, advertising them specifically to the ATR community. However, the job fairs are not only for ATRs, but for anyone interested in a teaching position. Sam, who is still stuck in the system, emphasized the union’s failure to support teachers in his situation.
 “We go to these job fairs and its really a show. What goes on is that they hire quite openly and are very solicitous towards the people who are just finishing up their education studies and they literally give a cold shoulder and left handshake who have fifteen and twenty years in the school system,” said Sam.
“We have gestations of being sold out not just by the city, but by the union,” he said. “What they should be doing is respecting the contract.”

Sunday, December 8, 2013

“They Don’t Know You’re White” – In Which the Former ATR is Told That Being Called a “White Bitch” is NOT Racist

Life in Limbo returns as Teaching under Assault, the attacked teacher from an usafe Queens middle school provides another installment. As you'll recall, she had little support from the DOE or the UFT after injury-causing incidents.

Let’s backtrack a bit, to the day before my second trip to the ER at the hands of my middle school students.  The day was going like any other typical day here at MS Anarchy and Mayhem.  In other words, kids were coming into the classrooms at random to high-five and fist bump friends, responding with “Shut the fuck up bitch”, “It’s ‘cause I’m black, right?” or “Calm your white titties” when the fact that there was a CLASS going on was brought to their attention.  Shoes were thrown across the room. Students helped themselves to things on my desk.  Hand and body lotion was applied and perfume sprayed during the “Do Now”.  Students walked in and out of the room to see friends in the hallway, and opened the doors for intruders to enter and perform obscene dances.  Rap beats were drummed using desks and pens, while other students rapped obscene lyrics about me and about each other.  I heard the sound of tables and chairs being overturned in the classroom next door twice, along with more rapping to the beats as the teacher next door tried to get the class to quiet down.  I encountered running groups of students in the hallway as I walked to the ladies’ room.  

It was in this oasis of tranquility that I sat down to check my email on my VERY OWN classroom computer! (Pardon the capitals, but I haven’t had an actual COMPUTER in my room in SEVEN years, so I am just giddy over it. No printer, but hey, these things take time, right? And even if I had a printer, it would run out of toner by Thanksgiving anyway, but I digress). 

So there was an email summoning me to the principal’s office. Given that I had recently been reporting the violent and threatening incidents happening around me, I wrote back that I would like to have my District Rep, who had been in the building with me earlier in the day, present and could we fine a mutually convenient time. My principal responded that I must come that afternoon and that “union representation is not necessary, as we will be discussing instruction”.  Not wishing to be insubordinate, I went.  

When I went to the meeting, I was first reprimanded for not notifying my principal of the issues and asked why I did not.  I responded that everything was documented with the deans and the APs who are responsible for the classes involved.  I also said that I was surprised that none of the deans or APs, with whom I communicate with daily, saw fit to mention this situation in school safety meetings or as a matter of course. We agreed that I will include the principal in all correspondence of this nature from now on.

Then the conversation turned to "instruction" - sort of.  The principal said that she had to wonder how students "have the TIME to even get into this kind of trouble. There must me some kind of issue with your planning because the students seem to have a LOT of time on their hands and that must be what is causing the problems.”  I responded that there is ALWAYS work ready for them to do and that I plan for a full period of instruction, however, when the students enter the room, overturning chairs, fighting, and screaming, and then refuse to leave the room, line up outside, and enter properly, well, it's hard to get things going.  She responded, "Maybe you have WORK, but is it ENGAGING? Are you differentiating? Do they LIKE the work you give them?  It sounds like they just don't like the work you are providing and are acting out because of that. I think we need to work on your ability to engage students and on your classroom management.  It sounds like you have problems establishing routines and norms in your classroom.”

On the issues of the bias incidents that I was subjected to, she said, '”You know, I have to say that I don't think our students are astute enough to pick up on that issue. I doubt they even know you are white.  I think they just see that calling you 'white bitch' or 'white this-and-that' upsets you, and THAT's why they say it, not because they understand what it means.”  She said that "If they see that it doesn't bother you when they call you these names, then it would have stopped, but the fact that it bothers you and gets you upset and running to the deans and THAT's why they keep saying it. It all comes down to engagement and RELATING to the young people, and this seems to be what is causing your problems."

So, now this is all MY FAULT?  I brought this on myself because I am not "ENGAGING"???? REALLY???  And the kids can call me "white bitch" and tell me to "move my white ass" or that I "smell white", but they don't know I'm white and don't mean anything by it? REALLY????  I maintain that if the racial makeup was reversed, she wouldn't DARE say these things, nor belittle them to this extent. I feel as if I have been violated again - a classic "blame the victim" argument that is completely FALSE.  I am the VICTIM here --the VICTIM of bias crimes and ASSAULTS and I get told about MANAGEMENT?

The meeting ended with a promise to come into my classes the next day and discuss “appropriate behavior with the young people”.  She showed up once, for the ONE Honors class I teach which gives NO trouble at all, and prattled on about how she has “high expectations for everyone and that no one should allow themselves to be distracted by the behavior of others”.  Later that day, I left in an ambulance.

Hey, thanks for the help.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

An Open Letter to Dissent Magazine

As teachers in the ATR Chapter Committee and UFT members, we offer our congratulations to Dissent magazine for sixty years of progressive commentary and debate. Some of us are longtime readers and most would agree that the magazine has provided a strong voice in defense of teachers and against the neoliberal assault on public education. 
We write this letter because the magazine's choice of venue, the UFT headquarters, for its sixtieth anniversary celebration makes us wonder about a few things. 

We are concerned that the host of the celebration, AFT President Randi Weingarten, has done less than an adequate job of resisting the corporate school reform that Dissent writers have eloquently deplored. 

A headline in the current issue reads, “Big Philanthropy Undermines Democracy.” Joanne Barkan reports that a flood of corporate profits coming through the mega-foundations has helped to dictate public policy and distort the priorities of public education. She argues that it threatens to completely stifle the creativity of civil society and our democratic values. She also observes that the mainstream media are mostly “failing miserably in their watchdog duties.”

We agree that such watchfulness is warranted. That is partly the purpose of this letter. There seems to be a serious disconnect going on. The progressive press is all too circumspect with regard to unions officials who have benefited from the largesse of foundations and are promoting the goals of the financial elite. 

In an era of union-bashing one might be tempted to be polite about such shortcomings. However, the teacher union's alignment with the corporate school reform agenda is an essential part of the picture. It is a little hard to understand the situation otherwise.

In recent years the AFT and NEA have accepted tens of millions from the Gates Foundation to support the Common Core curriculum and initiatives around teacher evaluation. In March 2013 Weingarten, as president of the AFT, co-wrote a piece with a Gates Foundation director that appeared the New Republic as “sponsored content.” The main thrust of the message was that there were problems with teacher evaluation systems because of a too-hasty roll-out. While expressing concern about the problems of the evaluation being set up clumsily, Weingarten boasted that the AFT's model for teacher development and evaluation is being used in scores of school districts across the country. The language of the statement is replete with managerial terms like effectiveness and performance.

Weingarten has promoted the value-added evaluation, rightly called “junk science” in a way that may take years to undo.

Similarly, she is also trying to save the Gates-funded Common Core curriculum from a groundswell of parent opposition. She complains about the inadequate quality of standardized tests or materials, while implicitly affirming the need for standardized business-model solutions in general. 

As a 2009-2010 report for the Broad Foundation: We decided at the onset of our work to invest in smart, progressive labor leaders like Randi Weingarten. That investment was money well spent. A few years ago Broad awarded the UFT a million dollar grant to set up two charter schools in New York City. 

We believe unions have a vital role in reclaiming public education. As member-financed institutions they have the potential to act as a counterweight against the power of the corporations. This is obviously undermined when a union leadership takes corporate funding and acts as a mouthpiece.

Of course, it is up to union members to elect leaders who follow better principles. Our point is that the media influences teachers and for a magazine to critique the pernicious influence of corporations and then celebrate its anniversary with Randi Weingarten it is disappointing. It seems a little like somebody mourning the scarcity of wild herd animals in North America and then having dinner with Buffalo Bill. Thank you for reading this. Please rethink the omissions!


ATR teachers and other Department of Education workers,
New York City

Who We Are

Over 2,000 New York City employees are currently working with the status of Absent Teacher Reserve teachers or ATRs. We are teachers, librarians, guidance counselors, social workers, school psychologists, and speech and hearing therapists. Many of us were displaced by school closings, co-locations and shrinking enrollments. Others were excessed because of budget cuts and administrative decisions to eliminate programs in their license areas. Instead of having regular assignments we move in weekly rotations that many of us find demeaning and unproductive, a plan that the UFT agreed to in a hastily called Delegate Assembly meeting on the last day of school in June, 2011. We consider our status one of age discrimination, as our internal survey indicates that over 85 percent of us are over 50 years of age.

Our ranks also include whistle-blowers banished from schools by improper excessing or on trumped-up charges of misconduct. Some of us have successfully had charges overturned but remain ATRs because DOE policy does not allow for a return to our schools even following favorable judgments. Absent Counselor Reserve workers (guidance counselors, social workers, psychologists) have been displaced by out-sourcing their work to “service providers.”
Dozens of schools have been closed and replaced with Gates-funded small schools. Concessions in the 2005-2007 UFT contract took away seniority rights for teachers and the Fair Student Funding formula for school budgets began to penalize schools that hired senior teachers with higher salaries.

The UFT does not officially have a chapter for ATR teachers. Unlike teachers permanently assigned to schools we lack any union delegates or chapter leaders to represent us.

ATR Chapter
c o m m i t t e e
/ Visit

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

ATRNYC sends de Blasio a letter of concerns

ACRs/ATRs from the Chapter Committee went to mayor-elect de Blasio's Transition Tent and entered this statement. We had in mind the larger range of displaced DOE staff.

Dear Mr. Mayor-Elect, We are writing on behalf of all NYC displaced teachers and guidance counselors, otherwise known as ATRs. There are currently over 2,000 displaced teachers and guidance counselors roaming weekly. These are mainly veteran educators who throughout the Bloomberg administration have been pushed out of closing or down-sizing schools in an effort to save money. The city is spending over $150 million per year on this program, wasting tax-payers' money by not having teachers work in an on-going basis. 

We ask the city to reinstate the seniority transfer system that existed for decades until 2005. If this cannot be done, we ask that ATRs be appointed to schools where teachers are needed before new candidates straight out of college are hired, as is current practice. We also wish to see the reinstatement of the prior payroll structure where teachers were paid from a central fund, rather than a school's budget. This new system has politicized hiring by putting principals in a position of not wanting to hire them simply because they are more expensive. On reinstatement we expect to get the full training that other teachers and counselors received. 

Thank you and we look forward to your help.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The CCSS and Danielson only work in Ideal Societies!

A teacher gives a report of the ominous ramifications of being forced out of the pool into an unwinnable situation: ELL and special education students with none of the proper supports.

Dear NYC ATRs and teachers who have a home school...

I'm incredibly overwhelmed.

So, the students at the school where I was force-hired, are way behind. In fact, according to the materials emailed to me by the principal of the school, they are 10 weeks behind. There has been no meeting with the principal and myself. I have no idea where to start.

"Where do you start with the seniors who plan on sitting for the January 2014 regents?" I'm glad that you asked that question.

I sent an email to the principal who told me that we should talk about having them sit out the exam and take it in June. They however, in their own minds think that they can pass it.

I just spent over $110 this weekend to make review packets for them. They signed them out on Monday. Their first response was not "Thank you Ms. Cortez" Nor was it the second or third response. The only response was "It's so thick, like a book." 
These kids don't want to study for the exam because in their minds they imagine themselves passing without studying. OMG!

I asked them to start working on the packet. I also asked them to write an essay on three Enlightenment Thinkers. It was supposed to be in my mailbox yesterday. "Ooops. I didn't see it." So, they didn't do it and now I have to move on. Oh well!

My other four groups are so lost, and behind, I have no clue where to start. I really don't know.

I have lots of 
special education students in my four classes. I also have English Language Learners--these are kids that don't speak English, can't read it or write it. Seriously! Yes, this is what I have to contend with right now. I also have other kids that have emotional problems. The list goes on and on.

The CCSS and Danielson only work in IDEAL SOCIETIES!

They talk about higher order thinking. What does this mean for my students, many of whom have not had a real social studies teacher since the first day of the school year. They know very little, remember even less.

Neither the principal nor the AP have given me any kind of guidance. I am just a body, with teaching license in a room full of level 1s who I don't think I can move on.

I would love for someone to take over these classes who has this type of training.

As a rotating teaching for 3 years, I am not used to schools that have very little support services for their students, who obviously need them. I have to speak Spanish to my ELLs and ESLs. However, one boy in my class is from an African country. Do I sit down and get Rosetta Stone to help him? What next?

Why don't the special education students have a social studies teacher in the classroom with them?

I have to read IEPs. I am out of my league! This is the most frustrating job that I have ever had in my 20 plus years as a 
social studies educator.

I need to first hear from the principal, who is in charge of the 
social studies department to tell me where to start.

HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The ATR World According to Arundell, Pt. II, Reports from the outer boroughs

In October the UFT had official meetings for the ACRs and ATRs. Amy Arundell set out her spin, but it contrasted with how displaced teachers see things.

The Guidelines for employees in rotation
Displaced teachers' reality: There have been guidelines for the ATRs but lots of the guidelines get violated. Where is the union on the systematic violations?
Arundell's line: The guidelines are suggestions. You have to stand up for yourselves.

Arundell's line: Rotation has been great. Supervisors were not placing people before there was rotation.

Short and medium term assignments
Arundell's line: Emphasized that high school appointees can be placed anywhere in their borough to cover leave, long term absence (LTA), or vacancy; must accept placement. Elementary and middle school only forced to accept in license in their district. For a week or two you may have to teach out of license.
Displaced teachers: Could the city put ATRs in classes as mentor teachers?
Arundell's line: (Did not respond well to the suggestion.)

Letters in the file
Displaced teachers' reality: Supervisors are saying that we are going to put letters in your file.
Arundell's line: There are lots of things that they are doing.

Lesson plans
Displaced teachers' reality Students expect assignments in the class that they are covering.
Many newer schools have abandoned the traditional routine of storing timely teacher-assigned lesson plans, even in the age of email. Students protest against covering teachers' own lessons in subjects that they are not scheduled for.
Arundell's line: Teachers are to do demo lessons. “Field supervisors and I will tell you that you have to have lesson plans in your area.”

Mandated lesson plan formats
Displaced teachers' report: At one of the meetings a displaced member reported that principals are mandating that regular teachers adhere to specific lesson plan formats spelled out in templates.
Arundell's line: She interrupted and said that was school specific.

Short and medium term assignments
Arundell's line Emphasized that high school appointees can be placed anywhere in their borough to cover leave, LTA, or vacancy; must accept placement. Elementary and middle school only forced to accept in license in their district. For a week or two you may have to teach out of license.

Displaced teacher: Could the city put ATRs in classes as mentor teachers?
Arundell's line: Did not respond well to the suggestion.

Status of displaced teachers
Displaced teachers' reality: Teachers do not have regular assignments, so they are not really appointed
Arundell's line: Displaced teachers and other staff have all the contractual rights as other staff. This is thinking along the way that the DOE is thinking. The DOE is trying separate people into different categories. We are protecting you from that.

Rebuttal many displaced teachers say to this: Displaced teachers lose out on per session opportunities. The UFT sold out teachers with the 2005 contract. It did not fight the city when the city began using the Fair School Funding formula. This has prevented principals from assigning (permanently appointing) teachers and counselors to their schools. As the vast majority of displaced staff are over 45 this amounts to age discrimination.

Numbers of displaced staff
Currently [10/8/13] there are about 1700 ATRs city-wide, of which 600 are in the Bronx.
(The numbers are now much higher. See Chaz blog )

No clear response. [From previous reports: There was a large gap between what the city would offer and what the union wanted. So now buy-out would happen.]

Democratic representation
Displaced teacher:  If you were an ATR wouldn't you want to have an elected representative?
Arundell's line: (After some delay) No.

Friday, November 15, 2013

ACR/ATR meeting, Monday, Nov. 18

ACR/ATR meeting, welcoming displaced UFT members from all boros
Time: Monday, November 18, 5:00 pm
Site: Skylight Diner, 402 W 34th St, at 9th Ave., New York, NY  

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Teacher is attacked on duty. The DOE and the UFT do little to help

An ATR returns to the classroom, and she is attacked by students in this middle school. The DOE blames the victim and the UFT gives minimal assistance. This is just the beginning of the story.

During the '11-'12 school year, I was assigned an ICT class with a significant number of students with behavioral problems. The students quickly realized that the response to their antics was anemic at best, with generally no consequences. I had begun making the administration aware that the behavior of the students was getting more and more dangerous as the lack of consequences was causing them to push the envelope, as 8th graders will. This culminated in a fight breaking out in my classroom, and two BIG 8th grade boys, running at full speed in the classroom, plowed into me, knocking me into the desks, chairs and the crate of books I was moving at the time. I was out on Line of Duty for seven months, during which I had surgery to repair my knee and four rounds of epidural steroid injections to ease pain from six herniated discs in my back and neck. I was SHOCKED when I was sent back to the same school, but went back with modifications and was given the Wilson reading program to teach for the '12-'13 school year.

This year, I was assigned full classes (though I have nothing in writing from my doctors lifting my accommodations and I am still being treated for injuries incurred as a result of the fall). I have two ICT classes that I see with NO second teacher, and the discipline in the building is virtually nonexistent, or too little to really make an impact on a school culture of complete disrespect and anarchy. The entire seventh grade has essentially declared war on me – I am subjected to continual race baiting, called “white bitch”, threatened with being beaten and/or shot on a daily basis. Students fight, threaten, use table legs as weapons, throw rocks, candy, and pens at me while I work with students, etc. I have been documenting and reporting these incidents DAILY to both my school administration and the UFT, with little to no response. I was terrified of being hurt again, and made this clear. My worst expectations were realized yesterday, when a student who had just been returned to my class after a Student Removal (she had sprayed perfume in my face), began a long racist diatribe about how she can do whatever she wants “to this damn white bitch and the school can’t do SHIT because it’s just a school. It ain’t no police or anything it’s a damn school and I am a child so I can do whatever the fuck I want to the white bitch. I’ve about had it with this bitch – she need her white ass kicked”. She then pushed between me and a table, used her body to shove me out of the way and knocked me to the floor. I was taken out of the building in an ambulance for the second time, and the injuries to my back are now aggravated and I am once again home in pain.

The union, outside of a brief call to tell me to make sure I fill out all the required forms, has said nothing, in spite of the fact that I had been up to the borough office TWICE in two weeks to tell them that I feel unsafe and fear for my health in the building. I am still waiting to see if they dare send me back to this school.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Displaced ACRs, ATRs appealed to Arundell, Mulgrew - no response

This letter was sent on June 26, 2013 with no response from Amy Arundell or from Michael Mulgrew, to whom the article was CC'ed.  These issues remain unresolved. Our group is now 50 percent larger.  Our class of displaced teacher, guidance counselor, social worker, psychologist, librarian, secretary is now nearing 2,000.

The union has a pattern of non-response to its members in other urgent situations. This following quote is a taste of the neglect on the part of the union that will go public:
Students fight, threaten, use table legs as weapons, throw rocks, candy, and pens at me while I work with students, etc. I have been documenting and reporting these incidents DAILY to both my school administration and the UFT, with little to no response.

Amy Arundell,
Special Representative
United Federation of Teachers
52 Broadway
New York, NY 10004

Dear Amy:

We are writing on behalf of over 100 ACRs and ATRs. We would like to appeal for declarative action on the UFT's part to ensure that the DOE and the UFT protect our interests, our dignity and our professional status in remedying these patterns which we have been finding systemic in our members' experience. Most of these patterns are in clear violation of the guidelines for excessed employees that the UFT distributed at the meetings last fall.

The indignities we face are:

·      Principals and chapter leaders not introducing themselves
·      Scheduling staff referring to us as substitutes in front of students, staff citing “sub policies” when referring to procedures they lay out for us
·      Staff or administration directing excessed staff to sign in or punch in, in violation of the contract
·      Lack of compliance with standard contractual schedules, such as being assigned to four classes in a row or not being assigned two preps & lunch at secondary school level
·      Contractually dubious assignments such as clerical duties or hall assignments, sometimes for a full day
·      Observations in out-of-license settings, with students we do not know, and/or without knowing the class's place in a course sequence
·      Denial of contractually standard observation protocols, such as pre-observation conferences
·      Little or no access to computers for professional development, lacking passwords we are usually forced to log in as students
·      Students directing sexually vulgar remarks to teachers, throwing objects at teachers (sometimes heavy things like dense plastic bottles) and otherwise harassing teachers, being met with minimal disciplining cooperation from administration (and teachers often criticized by administration for defending themselves against physical attacks or threats thereof)
·      Lack of proper bathroom and elevator access (keys should be directly dispensed to excessed staff upon entry to schools, for the day or for the week).   *** On this latter point, principals have denied elevator keys to teachers that use canes
·      No secure (locked to students) place where teachers may store their belongings
·      Denial of access to staff refrigerators
·      Parking space for the handicapped not being offered
·      Failure to make religious allowances (since assigned schedules vary by the day, there is no opportunity for ATRs to make up time to the school by covering other periods during the week, if they have to leave early for the Sabbath on Friday)
·      School assignment notices do not carry the school hours or reporting times, in contrast to the announcements during the 2011 to 2012 year

Aside from issues of on-the-job dignity, we are quite concerned that our efforts to secure Common Core, Danielson Framework and Smart Board training, in order to be fully commensurate with our in-class peers, are stymied.
Another problem is that the only workshops administered by the Danielson Group in Walcott's list of Danielson workshops are scheduled on Saturdays; this is a flagrant denial of access to observant Jews and Seventh Day Adventists. The same is true for the first series of the UFT Summer Institute. One session is on July 10, the first day of Ramadan, hence an issue for observant Muslims.

In closing, we would like to re-state for the record that we pay dues yet are denied true representation. Alone among our peers outside of the excess pool, we do not have elected representatives.  We are again formally requesting that we have elected chapter leaders, by borough.

If we do not get binding commitments in a written, signed statement of committing to rectify these issues, within five business days of the mailing date of this letter, we will be forced to go further public on these long un-remedied grievances.

Sincerely yours,

Thursday, October 24, 2013

ATR meeting: DOE's coming observations and what can we do?

ACR/ATR meeting, welcoming all displaced UFT members from all boros Time: Monday, October 28, 5:00 pm

Site: Georgia Diner, 86-55 Queens Boulevard, Elmhurst, Queens, parking at 55th Ave entrance, near the SE exit of the Grand Ave. station, M and R trains.

*Teachers are being observed in sessions out of license, and out of grade range; and have received U ratings for such lessons

*From the start of the rotation system, the UFT leaders have supported the UFT's observation policy, even backing judgment on classroom management

*Amy Arundell newly conceded at the October 10 official, not well-publicized, Queens UFT ATR meeting that teachers rated for their substitute performance from observations have received U ratings for the end of the year..previously, she claimed that the ATRs receiving end of year U’s received them for conduct or attendance

*Given that the DOE has an unbeatable record with 3020s

*do teachers feel that it is appropriate that these substitute performances with unfamiliar students in unfamiliar rooms and schedules, could impact their careers?

*We are not being evaluated for teaching, but for controlling unfamiliar students; quality teaching comes from relationships with students that develop over time

*Are we in coverages to help students with the subject they expect that period or is our purpose to demonstrate lessons as the DOE and the UFT advocate?

*Why do we lack elected displaced teacher representatives that would understand our experiences?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

An ATR -How tough it is trying to leave the Pool

I am frustrated by our union. I will not give up and I will put my boots on the ground and I will have others join me in holding OUR UNION accountable. As a teacher in the traveling pool since the start of the School Year 2011-12, I have not only been frustrated, but have felt alone because the union refuses to address me or others in the pool respectfully.

Nowhere is there any accountability to those of us in the ATR pool. There is no mention of us in the New York Teacher newspaper, in fact, I dare the union, the UFT, OUR UNION to have a page called “The Traveling Teachers”. It would be great to have an ATR Bill of Rights that addresses all of our concerns, as we travel from school to school–there should be a list of the schools with the go-to persons, telephone numbers, ways of getting to the school, what kind of school it is–A, B, C,D, F, phasing out or out of control, respectful and kind students, good or bad administrators, in a good neighborhood or bad, who the union rep and extension, time we start and end the day. It would be nice to have the Union hire out a Hall for us to celebrate us for all the hard and arduous work we do and the humiliations we endure each day in our rotating schools. It would be wonderful to have a union chapter chair in each borough to meet our needs, a go-to person to help us with any issues we face in our schools.

As a teacher in the Pool, I can’t find a job. When I apply for a job, I’m either not called or called, and then never called again. In the very limited times that I have been called back, I go into an interview room and sit and listen to all of the “re-purposed jargon”, Common Core buzz words, Danielson, ad nauseum. In two school years, I have been sent to over 15 mandated interviews–I have done four demo lessons. In one the AP counted the time down, by shouting from the back of the room..45 minutes, 40 minutes and so on (shouted out loud to me in the front of the classroom), in another one, I was to teach an ESL class –It was an ELL class, I was put into a special educaton class without knowing it, and my last demo went awry when their computer failed, and when I was given another one, they kept the passcode on the computer, which timed the computer out every 10 -15 minutes. I have been to two or three hiring halls, I have had little to no P.D., and now, I have no real prospects for a “real job”. Everyone knows what I’m talking about, when I say a “real job”. I don’t want a babysitting position. I really don’t!

Once I was in the Pool and I had my first problem, I was told to call, Amy Arundell, who is supposed to be our go-to person. She has a very stand-offish manner. When talking to you, she is rude most of the time. She talks at you most of the time. She then tells you, if you call her, that you need to speak to “your rep”, the person in charge of your school district. For example, I had a problem my first year in the Pool, where I was told to sharpen over one hundred pencils. When I called her to tell her what was happening, now she knows me by now, she says in a very infantilizing manner “Clare? You know that you’re not supposed to be sharpening pencils. I knew that, but I needed her to be nice and say, “I’m sorry that they are doing this to you, I will personally call the school now and put an end to this practice.” All I want is for her to do her job in a very, kind and thoughtful manner. After all, I am a union dues-paying member. Is that too much to ask?

Also, this summer, many of us in the Pool who have not had any PD had little to no opportunity to sign up for summer workshops. Many of these workshops required the principal to select you. So, what if you are in the Pool and don’t have a home school? Good question? Well, I called Amy. She told me that she would sign me up and to have other members, from the Pool, to call her and have her sign them up. I thought that was what she told me. I had called her about signing me up. She said that she did.

Then, a Traveler must have called her, and she told me that she didn’t tell me that she would sign up the ATRs. She told me ” I told you that I would do this as a courtesy to you.” Well, I called the UFT Teacher Center and guess what? I was told that I was not on any workshop lists. I called her back, she sounded annoyed that I had told her that my name was not on any workshop list. She then asked me which workshops I was interested in, I told her and then she called and signed me up. Just as an aside, the Teacher Center only allows you to take one workshop over the summer. So, even if you have had no PD all year, you can only register for one. Amazing!

As a person in the Pool, especially for teachers whose schools have phased out or closed, WE need all of the help that we can get. So, I would suggest for all of us to put her to work starting now. Call her as many times as you need to. Call her when you are being disrespected in a school–not given a bathroom key or elevator key, put in a stairwell to watch a locked door for periods at a time, be careful in the SAVE Room–I have had bad luck..I was assaulted in the SAVE Room…what did the union do? Nothing. Did I report it and put it on the UFT site? Yes. Did they call me or ask me how I was feeling? No! Instead, I got an e-mail telling me that my complaint was received. Wow! So nice to know that my union cares about me.

One more date, I have been attempting to get a Comprehensive Injury Report signed by the HS Superintendent’s Office. I was assaulted in December of 2011. The days were coded as medical. I was injured and needed medical assistance and rest. Guess what? The days were taken out of my CAR. To this day, the days are coded as medical despite ALL attempts to get the Superintendent’s signature. Where is MY UNION? Why do I feel like no one is listening? It’s been almost two years since the assault and it feels like I’m being assaulted every time I call the union for assistance.

The next time you see an ATR, say hello and introduce yourself. Ask how they’re doing. Tell them who the union rep is and where to find him/her, what their extension is. Tell them where the bathroom is, where the elevator is located, which side of the building (if it’s a big building) they belong on, where the nearest exit is to the subway or bus, where a good place to eat is located, if there is PD while they are there, tell them if there is a position opening up in your school…and anything else you think is important for them to know while they are in your building for the week. They would do it for you, so now you have the chance to make good on what it is to be a good colleague.

I believe in “boots on the ground”! I believe that OUR UNION should work for us and be kind and considerate, and thoughtful. I am like this naturally, and so I expect MY UNION to treat me well, all the time. I do care about my well-being and the well-being of all teachers, in particular, the one’s without a voice right now, the women and men who find themselves in the ATR Pool, through no fault of their own. Like me.

In closing, I’d like to say that we in the pool feel defeated, neglected and we worry about our jobs all the time. We want to work in a school of our own, we want a group of our own students we can teach and call our own, we want to be in the classroom! We want to bond with our colleagues! Don’t let others tell you any differently. We need the UFT, OUR UNION, to show us respect, to show us some kindness, and to have the gumption to get us back into our own classrooms. NOW!