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

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,