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

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!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

ACRs/ATRs, Do Not Allow Yourselves to Be Borrowed


There is a new insidious misuse of ATRs. It is something that has been called "borrowing." Remember the UFT's advisory, that we should take no assignment that is not centrally assigned from the DOE. Thus, an ACR/ATR's agreeing to being used in the borrowing fashion is putting oneself at risk with being AWOL in DOE central's eyes.

There are small schools in two separate buildings that had traditionally housed single high schools, that are occasionally pulling a stunt. If a principal of one school needs an ATR, he or she have their secretaries call up another small school on the same school campus. They ''borrow'' us like we are chattel, to be traded. I don't mean that they ''exchange'' or swap ATRs. They borrow an ATR for the day, and use them usually in the new "secondary schools" which are grades 6-12 combined. Amy Arundell says they are NOT allowed to borrow ATRs from other schools on the same campus. Arundell suggests that one should tell the local UFT rep from your current small school, and report it. ATRs should also stand up for themselves and REFUSE to be ''borrowed'' and tell the secretary or administrator who asks or tells you this that you ARE NOT DOING THAT.

It should also be pointed out that there are legalities if one gets hurt at a school that you were not assigned to, in writing.... You stay at the small school to which you were assigned.

Monday, October 7, 2013

An ATR's letter to Amy Arundell on representation

One ATR's email letter to Amy Arundell, of October 3. As of posting time, she has not responded substantively to his requests. This letter follows on a signed group letter on representation and displaced staff's concerns that was sent by certified mail to Arundell and Michael Mulgrew at the end of June. Neither Arundell nor Mulgrew had responded to that earlier letter.

Dear Amy,
I heard the darndest thing about you at the Manhattan ATR meeting.

Is it true that you said that ATRs don't need representatives because we had you?

That sounds like something LeRoy would say.

Answer this question, please: In theory, and specifically in unions, isn't more democracy better than less? To wit, if rubber roomers, surely the least of our brethren, were granted elected liaisons and monthlies with Mendel/LeRoy et al. at 52, how can the hundreds/thousands of good-standing ATRs (aka "displaced teachers")  be denied equal rights, that is, representation equal to that of suspended teachers of yesteryear? 

Please don't repeat LeRoy's tired, old rationales. Instead, be honest and direct, tell us why you, if you were an ATR like us, would really hate to elect a handful of peers, brothers and sisters who rotate schools like gerbils on a pinwheel, to fight for your rights and your future, at the very top?  
Until this term, you and LeRoy even refused to disclose who was on the joint UFT/DOE committee overseeing the ATR agreement.  Again, if you were an ATR, wouldn't you demand to know what goes on behind closed doors, if anything, when your career is on the table? The UFT's secrecy regarding ATR affairs is atrocious and must end.

Finally, the UFT forefeited its good faith with us when Howie tried to destroy my ATR contact list at last October's meeting in Brooklyn and lied about it later. LeRoy subsequently whitewashed the sleaze by calling Howie's conduct "a miscommunication." No explanation, no apology.
Summing up, I demand:
1  elected representatives with monthly meetings at 52
2  a full accounting of past joint committee meetings
3  minutes of all future meetings
4  UFT plans for ending ATR pool in future contract negotiations
5  a public admission and apology re Howie Schoor's loutish breach of solidarity from Howie himself.
I am sending this e-mail to other interested parties. Let a hundred flowers bloom in our direction.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The ATR World According to Amy Arundell, Pt. I

MANHATTAN, UFT Headquarters, October 1 
   UFT special representative Amy Arundell's statements; and she routinely interrupted ATR members' questions:
Italics are quotes or paraphrases of Amy's statements.

On the prospects of having an ATR's page in New York Teacher:
Arundell: It's not going to happen.

Publicization of the meeting; Guidelines for rotation
[As a matter of interest, most of the people at the meeting only happened to get information about the meeting by word of mouth. Most ATRs have not learned of the meeting through a direct email from the UFT or from the chapter leader at their rotation assignment. The UFT is still producing a guidelines for the use of ACRs/ATRs that lacks DOE and UFT logos and letterheads.]

Member: No one knows how long we will remain unappointed. Until everyone is appointed, we need our own chapter and a representative on the committee that is deciding our fate. [Arundell and her new aide, Mike Sill, an ATR, are the two UFT representatives on the four member DOE-UFT committee on ATRs.]
Arundell: There is no need for ATRs to have their own chapter leaders, because they already have representation. [This is as far as some at the UFT claim she spoke.  ATRs recall differently, that she said to an ATR's point that we have no representation, No you don't! I am your representative!]

Arundell: All the excessed teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, are appointed, and have all the rights that every other member has.
[Arundell spoke at length on her view that displaced staff have the same rights as other staff. She did not accept the term, “unassigned,” as applying to the displaced teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, librarians, secretaries without permanent school assignments. A number of members described Arundell's position as hair-splitting, and said that the displaced teachers who she says are appointed remain in rotation with no continuing assignment at a particular school.]
[Member asked where is our file when the school has closed down?]
Arundell: Your file remains at the physical building of where the school was where you were last working [i.e., where regularly assigned].

Funding, schools, getting placed permanently:
[Members pointed to the issue of Fair School Funding, a 2007 DOE school funding change which gives schools set budgets based on numbers of students and types of students, and how it creates incentives for principals to hire newer, cheaper staff]
Arundell [Interrupting the member, who hadn't finished her question]: The union has never supported Fair School Funding. The union is on the record as being against Fair School Funding.
Member: You'll hold the next mayor to eliminating Fair School Funding?
Arundell: No

On working assignments and conditions for displaced teachers (and guidance counselors . . . ) in rotation:
Arundell: You need to be pro-active, assertive; you need to be an advocate for your rights on the job.
Guidance counselors: I suggest that you think of things you can reasonably do at a school, such as, “here are 5 things I can offer you for the week.”

[Members recited assignments that violate the DOE-UFT guidelines.]

Arundell: Guidance counselors should not be alone in the classroom; guidance counselors should not cover in the SAVE room.

Displaced staff can apply for parking pool like anyone else there.

Wifi access:
Member asked about wifi access in schools.
Arundell: Ordering things on Amazon, that you should not do at school. But, if it's for gathering material to prepare for a lesson, that's acceptable.

The meeting wound down with Arundell's initial hedge of a response to a question on line of duty injuries (LODIs), with excuse that it was 6:00. Yet, no horde was packing up or racing to the door.

The following revision of guidelines for displaced, rotating staff was given by UFT staff at the door. As the 2012 version, it lacks a NYCDOE or UFT logo. It is attached to a list of district representatives for Manhattan schools and their emails. It does not provide school chapter leaders' names.

Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens Official ACR/ATR meetings of the UFT

Unless you already got the notice from a chapter leader, the UFT is holding official meetings at borough offices for the displaced teachers and other UFT members this week:

The time for all of the following official UFT meetings for displaced teachers is 4:00 pm:

10/7:      Bronx B.O., 2500 Halsey St., Bronx  Ph:  (718) 379-6200

10/8:      Brooklyn B.O., 335 Adams St., 25th floor, Brooklyn
              Ph:  (718) 852-4900

10/10:    Queens B.O.,  97-77 Queens Blvd., Rego Park  Ph:  (718) 275-4400 

The UFT states: Please register.