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, April 3, 2015

What the UFT says about unfair observations

The UFT has sent word that any ATRs that feel that they have unfairly received U ratings should contact Amy Arundell [] or Mike Sill [].

And also remember that it was the UFT's Secretary, Michael Mendel, that said it was all proper for ATRs to be observed in subbing circumstances in Fall 2011, when the UFT agreed to the change from placement of ATRs to rotation of ATRs. Many ATRs are now facing termination after observations in these inappropriate settings. In a new precedent: ATRs are receiving termination letters well in advance of the end of the term in June.

The author at the Chaz blog wrote a very good analysis of Mendel's tenure in the UFT leadership. He took important steps that have been important setbacks for veteran teacher in general and ATRs in particular, on issues ranging from the seniority transfer, to Fair Student Funding, to dealings with the DOE.

Here is Michael Mendel's 2011 letter sanctioning the "trial" program of ATR observations in certain Brooklyn districts. Notice how the slippery slope of trial allowed this program to progress, with no review as to how the observers operated.

Below is Mendel's letter (with a few key points highlighted by NYCATR). Following the letter is ATR in Perm's response; he who forwards the message gets first dibs at trashing it. 
Dear colleague,
The UFT has been informed that the DOE will implement a new supervisory system for ATRs in Brooklyn community school districts (Districts 13-23 and 32) and Brooklyn high school superintendency (District 73). They have labeled it a pilot, though they did not indicate how or when the pilot would be evaluated; nor have they indicated if or when they would extend this system to other ATRs. We were informed about this plan, but had no input into it. I am writing to assure you that the union will continue to make sure that your rights as a UFT member are not violated and your professionalism as a teacher is respected
The DOE has created a new position, that of field supervisor, with the intent that field supervisors will provide some measure of evaluative continuity to the members whom they observe and to whom they provide professional feedback. They have done this because state law requires that all teachers must be evaluated and rated. 
As always, the UFT will monitor the implementation of this new system carefully to make sure that it is implemented appropriately (e.g., that members are observed on things like classroom management, and not on things like content when they are teaching out of license — in other words, things that make sense). We will address concerns that come up with the DOE immediately. Above all, we will continue to hold the DOE’s feet to the fire on the main tenet of the June ATR agreement, which is to fill all long-term absences and leaves with ATRS and to help members in the Absent Teacher Reserve find permanent positions. 
We know that you play a valuable role in virtually every city school, under often challenging circumstances, and that your contributions are often unrecognized. We are committed to ensuring that ATRs are treated like professionals and are working to make sure this new supervisory system does that. 
If you have questions or concerns, please contact your district representative or Amy Arundell at

ATR in Perm: The UFT's Michael Mendell issued a letter on the UFT's position on the ATR teacher evaluations. Shockingly, the area that visiting teachers routinely have the most trouble with, classroom management, is an area that Mendell thinks is fair game for evaluating teachers.

"We are committed to ensuring that ATRs are treated like professionals . . ." Yeah? Well, why are you letting us get evaluated on handling kids who we've just met minutes ago? School tone, set by administration, as to whether they discipline students in a timely fashion or whether they coddle them, is the greatest factor (aside from home upbringing) in how kids will react to even the sternest and most confident Classroom-Management-minded teacher.


  1. UFT lawyer Adam Ross told me at a meeting that the classroom management issue is fair game for giving a rating, even if its out of your license area. Moreover, I wrote a post back in 2013 about Michael Mandel's sellout of us.

  2. The NYCDOE is the most broken system in the country. The powers that run this system should be ashamed. Until we ALL agree to work together it will never change!
    NYCDOE and the UFT are pathetic.

  3. UFT is part of the whole corruption.