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

Sunday, April 19, 2015

President Mulgrew: Do something about these absurd ATR observations

Many school chapter leaders are aghast at potentially career jeopardizing observations under substituting conditions. Yet, the logic of the controversy eludes the union which still staunchly opposes elected Absent Teacher Reserve representatives. And remember that UFT secretary Michael Mendel firmly endorsed observations of ATRs back at their pilot program introduction in a few Brooklyn districts in 2011.

Observation is covered at length in Article 6 the NYC DOE-UFT Memorandum of Agreement for the 2014 contract. However, observation is discussed nowhere in Article 16, the section which for the first time contractually institutionalizes the ATR condition. It is agreed between the City and the Union that ATRs are under observation conditions in "Teaching for the 21st Century." 

Yet, some observers (Field Supervisors) are doing the following which are outside of contractually sanctioned conduct for observing ATRs, and thus are grievable actions:
*Mandating use of the Common Core State Standards (mentioned only once, and parenthetically in the contract)
*Refusing oral or written requests for formal pre- and post- observation conferences
*Using Peer Validators (teachers or administrators serving as evaluators of other teachers, they receive $16,000 from the City on top of their regular salary)

Observation issues:

Regular classroom teachers do not leave lesson plans.
The city and union policy is that ATRs should bring in their own content. Students protest that this is inappropriate for the subject of the class session. ATRs are left with just saying that they are just following orders from higher up and that students should cooperate with the intrusion of the ATR's lesson agenda instead of the subject of the period.

ATRs have been observed and negatively rated when teaching a lesson in a content are outside of their own content area license or grade level.

ATRs are being judged when teaching lessons with students they do not know. They have been deprived of federally mandated access to Individual Education Plans (IEPs), yet have been judged by evaluators on their capacity to properly differentiate lessons. Teachers are judged as to having rapport with students, but as teachers do not know the students this is not possible to the ideal extent.
Teachers are expected to have classroom management over the students but as the students know, ATRs lack the grade or disciplinary authority over the students.
Teachers have sought and have been denied the opportunity to shadow a teacher in their content area and to be observed in that class.

Room issues:
Teachers have been denied proper preparation access to rooms for the purpose of setting up rooms for observations.

Teachers have been denied access to classroom technology. In worst case situations they have been denied passwords. In other situations they were not given full introduction and access by technology persons upon their assignment to the school. Often, the technology is nominally operative, but is not accessible to the ATR under observation.

School order and discipline:
There is an escalating crisis from the unregulated use of cellphones in class. Students text each other, play music and videos, shoot pictures and videos of teachers.
Yet, in many schools administrators do not act to squelch their use. Yet, teachers are expected to come into class and command attention of students.
And let's get real: when you were in school how many kids really did the work that a sub gave? So, why should it be realistic to expect that today's students would act any differently?
Did you ever think that a teacher's career would rest on whether kids did “it doesn't count” class work.
Inappropriate evaluator backgrounds and observations vs. student safety

esides the whole idea of being rated on observations, supervisors are not familiar with our grade level/subject area/school operations.

Informals make no sense. We could be anywhere. I was criticized for not assessing in a 15-minute informal when I'll never see these children again.

Being expected to do a whole lesson with all the components in elementary schools with little children during last period when dismissal safety is the priority, or first period when they are arriving and removing winter outer clothing, is obviously a setup. As a parent, I would sue the DOE if I knew an observation took priority over my child's well-being.

Peer observations - Teachers don't want to be observed and critiqued. Is this a way of creating distrust between us and colleagues?

We have been told by the UFT to cover lesson plans if left by the classroom teacher. Supervisors want us to go beyond teachers' directions.

Ask teachers where they send their children to school and why. I would never put my child into this nonsense.

I have not had access to training in the reading and math programs being used now and it was implied that this was my fault. Plus, the Pearson reading program is so inappropriate that schools are discontinuing its use.

Have I said enough? I hope the UFT listens.


  1. The DOE and UFT should be ashamed of themselves for treating their people like this. The thought of a person or persons who may have the authority to control this situation but choose to go this route is disturbing. These organizations have proven to show how dysfunctional they really are. The mere fact that we even have an ATR situation is a shame in itself let alone observing these people this way. One could only hope that whomever is responsible for letting this neophyte, demonish policy continue be reprimanded by a higher force - sort of karma - sad to have to write this but truly disturbing and it really shows how much evil exists in the world we live in today. True, no one is beheading anyone but taking a career from people and destroying their livelihoods in which they have prepared for most of their life is brutal to say the least and some where, some how down the line someone is going to pay for this.

  2. Mulgrew (Unity) doesn't give a shit about ATRs, nor does their (LOL) opposition New Action.

    1. mulgrew if this is true in that you do not give a shit for atrs then shame on you and go get a job at the factory