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

Monday, April 28, 2014

Some ATRs are being evaluated under dual evaluation systems

Some bad practices from Bloomberg's time are intensifying under de Blasio's Farina. One is the NYC DOE's having ATR Field Supervisors with over-reaching power observe ATR teachers with students that they have just met, that day, that period. A worsening nightmare, is that an untold number of ATRs are actually falling under dual evaluation system, under the flakey ATR evaluation system (herehere, and here) AND under the new Danielson-based Advance evaluation system. Is this all to protect Field Supervisors' jobs, to sustain the viability of their jobs, all in order to terminate ATRs out of their jobs?
The following description is just one instance of the rampant contract evaluations in practice under chancellor Farina's "new, improved" DOE. Unsurprisingly, interpretation of ATR observation conditions for temporarily placed ATRs is an area where the DOE and the UFT do not see eye to eye.

Rotating ATRs are covered by the 2007 to 2009 NYCDOE-UFT contract conditions, as there is no replacement DOE-UFT contract yet. ATRs are subject to the S and U observation system. Since they are not in a regular school they are allowed to request in writing to have pre-observation and post-observation conferences, as required under Articles 8J and 20 of the contract, as regularly assigned teachers were allowed to do, pre-Advance. Some Field Supervisors are accepting these written requests. Others are not. Also, as in the following case, some are not agreeing to submitting post-observation written requests, in person; and some are insisting that post-observation conferences can double as pre-evaluation conferences. All of this, of course, is in violation of Articles 8J and 20 of the contract. On the issue of observation reports, pre-Advance, read further here.

I am currently in a long-term assignment that started in mid-November until the end of the school year. I was evaluated in mid-January by a field supervisor. I thought it was strange that I was assigned to a school until the end of the year and yet was still going to be evaluated by a field supervisor, and not by the principal of the school. There was a pre- and post-observation and I received an S rating.  However, in early April I was told I would be evaluated by the principal using the Danielson and not the ATR S/U system. So far, the two informal observations at my assigned school have gone well with no rating below an effective, but still it seems being thrown into the Danielson system at this late date is ridiculous. Also, I am told my original S rated observation by the field supervisor won’t count which also seems unfair.

It gets better … In addition; I am told that the field supervisor still wants to observe ATRs (there are a few of us assigned long-term to this school). How can we be singled out like this for dual evaluation systems?

Also, I recently received a copy of my evaluation via email (yes, it took 3 months!) and at the end of it the last sentence reads; “It is understood that the post-observation conference for this lesson will serve as the pre-observation conference for any future observations.” It should be noted that I gave my field supervisor the request for a pre- and post-observation when she first contacted me. They want me to sign this and fax a copy back to them!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Be happy you have a job" -- The true national trends in teacher displacement and placement

The main phrase that we're told over and over is "Be happy that you have a job. Everywhere else, teachers in your position lose their job in a few months." Not true. Actually, cities such as Chicago and Washington, D.C., are more the exception to the rule, as we see in a very informative webpage. The percentage that dismiss displaced teachers, "ATRs" in the New York City Department of Education, is quite low. And it is also revealing that in most places seniority protects displaced teachers. In New York City it works against displaced staff, as the group of ACRs and ATRs is blatantly lopsided against older, longer tenured staff.

The article is from a site which is targeted towards administrators, the National Council on Teacher Quality, The article, "Tr3 Trends: Teacher Excessing and Placement", from the site, surveys 114 districts, including Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Washington D.C., and smaller districts such as Little Rock. It doesn't address the issue of evaluation of teachers while out of the classroom in an excessed status. Notice that in other cities seniority protects senior teachers in other cities, yet New York City is one place where seniority works as a penalty against teachers.

The contrast of better situations for excessed teachers in other cities suggests that we should be armed with this knowledge as the NYC DOE and the UFT move forward with contract negotiations as well as negotiations over ATR status.

These patterns can be overlapping and include:
1. districts that use performance and other factors in deciding whether to retain teachers
2. districts that lay off teachers
3. districts that hire without consideration of seniority (27% of the survey), includes Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York.
4. apparently, LA & NYC are two of seven districts that place teachers in sub work pools until they are placed in a school.
5. 34 districts (29.8% of the survey, and including Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, St. Paul and St. Louis) have the district assign the teachers back into schools.
6. four districts (including Cleveland, Las Vegas, Little Rock and Spokane) allow teachers to choose positions based on seniority.
7. only six districts are in the worst category: five districts lay-off teachers or place them on un-paid leave (this includes Chicago teachers after 10 months); another, Washington, D.C. gives options of resignation, buy-out or eventual termination after a year if the teacher is unable to find a job.
8. about half the surveyed districts (65 of 114) do not address the issue of what to do with teachers that cannot find jobs.

Here's the article, Tr3 Trends: Teacher Excessing and Placement. Go to the original page link, for the charts on the teacher displacement and assignment trends.

PDQ: Pretty Darn Quick Blog
Tr3 Trends: Teacher Excessing and Placement


In this month's Tr3 Trends, we take a look at teacher excessing: what factors determine which teachers to excess, how excessed teachers are assigned to schools, and what happens to excessed teachers who cannot find new assignments. 

But first, what is excessing and how is excessing different from a layoff? 

Excessing is the shifting of teachers from one school to another that results from a school reducing the size of its faculty due to a drop in student enrollment, a change in budget, programmatic changes, or because the school is being closed, redesigned or phased out.  Unlike being laid off, teachers who are excessed are still employees of the district and, in most cases, are still entitled to a teaching position at a school, but just not the same school that they left.

We've analyzed scores of excessing policies in districts' contracts and board policies.  Here are the trends that stand out:

In over half of Tr3 districts, seniority is the primary factor considered in excessing decisions.  

Only five districts--Denver, Douglas County (CO), Cypress-Fairbanks (TX), New Orleans, and Louisiana Recovery District--use performance to select teachers to excess without considering seniority.  Three districts--Wake County (NC), Baltimore County, and St. Louis--only consider the best interests and needs of the school or district.  Many districts look at a variety of factors when making excessing decisions. Washington, D.C., for example, uses a rubric with four different factors, of which seniority can only account for up to 10%. 
The "other factors" districts use to make excessing decisions run the gamut from diversity factors to extracurricular responsibilities.

We also looked at how excessed teachers were matched with new placements.

In about a third of the districts, principals or other site-based administrators choose which excessed teachers to hire, as opposed to being placed on the basis of seniority status or assigned by the district's HR office.
Thirty-one out of the 114 districts in our database use "mutual consent" to hire excessed teachers, which allows principals to interview and hire teachers of their choosing without regard to seniority. Los AngelesNew YorkMiami-DadeChicagoDallasFort Worth, and Minneapolis all use this approach.

Duval County (FL)St. PaulSacramentoSt. Louis, and Pittsburgh are a few of the districts in which Human Resources places excessed teachers in schools without seeking input from the principal--at least according to the teachers' contract.
In Cleveland, Clark County (NV)Spokane, and Little Rock, teachers are allowed to choose placements based on their seniority.
In only six districts in our database, teachers are exited out of the school system--via layoffs, unpaid leave, early retirement, or buyouts--if they are excessed and then unable to secure a new assignment.  In most districts, excessing does not lead to layoffs. 
The six districts include Clark County (NV) and Manchester (NH), which lay off teachers unable to find positions after they are excessed.  These districts' contracts do not specify how long teachers have before they are laid off.

Little RockChicago, and Douglas County (CO) give teachers temporary assignments (in Little Rock they serve as substitutes) and then if they are still unable to find permanent positions, they are laid off or placed on unpaid leave.  In Chicago, teachers have 10 months to find a position and in Douglas they have 12 months.  Little Rock's contract does not specify how long teachers have to find a position.

In Washington, D.C. excessed teachers unable to find placements are given three options:
  • They can immediately receive a $25,000 buyout,
  • They can elect early retirement, or
  • They can accept a year-long temporary assignment and continue looking for a position.  If they cannot find another position within that year they will be laid off.