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, June 28, 2015

Allies Wanted: Apply Within - ATR responds to analysis of last week's decisions impacting NYC schools

An ATR writes:
  To the brave New Yorkers of Class size Matters, 

      To this day, I have not seen your organization come out and support and promote the permanent placement of displaced teachers, known as ATRs, into the schools of our great city.  For those of you who are unaware of these teachers, we were displaced out of our classrooms only to be on a monthly rotation, during the school year. The argument can and is made that "forced placement" of excessed teachers has been and was non-productive.  And to that statement, I whole heartily agree.  No one wants to work in a hostile environment.  What we in the ATR pool have been fighting for is the:

1. Elimination of the ATR classification.  This classification brands many good and decent teachers as failures because of the Bloomberg/Klein school closing policies, which directly contributed to the excessed teacher pool.

2. Elimination of the so called "Fair funding" policy, period.  This funding practice gave the school principals control of their staff's salaries.  To this day, I have not heard of one ATR that has 10 or more years of DOE service being appointed to a school.  The purpose of this funding policy was to eliminate senior teachers from the school budget.

     It has been argued that this needs to be negotiated under the present school contract.  How can the union argue for the elimination of these two barriers if the parents of the city have no idea what the problem is?  What needs to be done is for this organization to make the Dept. of Education's dirty little secret known to the parents.  The questions will start to be asked and answers must be given that will satisfy the concerns of the parents.  To argue that there are some "bad apples," please excuse the pun, in the ATR rolls is 100% correct.  I am not advocating for them.  I am fighting for the teachers, who for the last 20 years have gotten up each morning at 5AM or earlier, come in, do the best that they can and then work until midnight, or later, grading and marking student's work.  

   It is said that to be a NYC teacher, one must work at least 5 years to be considered experienced enough to handle the day-to-day problems faced in the classroom.  Why demonize and attack the very people that have the experience needed to handle these problems.  Would any of you go to an oncologist just out of med school to treat stage 2 or worse cancer, or would you seek the most experienced doctor money could buy?  Oh and I'll bet a month's salary that the doctor you'd choose was taught by experienced teachers.  Then, why would you allow the system to allow good, caring and yes, EXPERIENCED teachers to be allowed to wither in a system that is designed to do nothing other than the forced retirement, resignation, or termination or people who have been demoralized due to this treatment.

   In conclusion, we are asking class size matters to make this apart of your goal to bring down class sizes by helping bring this disgraceful abuse to an end once and for all. 

Thank you, 


On Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 2:32 PM, Class Size Matters <> wrote:
Dear      ,
I wanted to update you on the state deal announced yesterday and the city budget deal finalized the day before, especially as they affect our public schools.
1.  The state deal between the leaders of the Legislature and the Governor known as the “big ugly” could have been uglier. It did not include the huge giveaway to billionaires and private schools in the form of a voucher-like education tax credit, but instead would provide an additional $250 million in state funds sent directly to private and parochial schools to pay for various services. The property tax cap that is hurting education funding outside NYC will remain mostly unchanged.
In NYC, mayoral control will be extended – but only for one year, which could allow parents and advocates more time to organize to reform the system. As for testing, more questions will be released after the state exams are given, and teachers will be allowed to talk about the exams afterward, though whether this will have any effect on these highly flawed tests or Common Core standards is yet to be seen.
The deal also included a slight lifting of the charter cap – as 22 new slots out of a total of 50 for NYC, ineligible under the old cap will now be allowed, and three more to be re-allocated to the city from the rest of the state. As Speaker Heastie pointed out, the Republicans in the Senate are eager to direct charter schools to NYC, though never to their own districts.
NYC already has the vast majority of charters, and because of last year’s budget deal has the legal obligation to provide all new and expanding charters with free space at the city expense, while already suffering from the worst school overcrowding and the highest real estate costs in the state. It could have been much worse of course. The Governor and the Senate leaders originally wanted to raise the cap by 100 and remove all geographical restrictions, which could have meant 250 additional charters flooding NYC instead of 25 more.
Ironically, during his press conference, Cuomo cited the overcrowding in NYC public schools as one of the reasons the state needed to support the parochial schools; to keep them open especially as so many NYC public schools still have trailers.
2.  Speaking of overcrowding, despite the overwhelming need, nothing was accomplished in the city budget to expand its inadequate capital plan to build more schools – a plan that provides less than half the seats necessary. Little new at all was added to the education budget through the Council’s negotiations; except for 50 more phys ed teachers, 80 more crossing guards, and free breakfast given to elementary school students in their classrooms. (Never mind that because of school overcrowding, many students are assigned to lunch as early as 10 AM or as late as 2 PM). Oh yes, we will also get 1300 more police. According to the Commissioner Bratton, he intends to put many of them outside schools. (!)
I wish I had better news to report, but we’re not giving up when there are at least half a million students attending overcrowded schools with huge class sizes every day, and the situation worsening– without the city providing any real plan to address this crisis.
Talk to you soon,
Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tired, old, excuses

  Yesterday was the last day of the school year, 2014/2015.  It was the year that all of us had longed for, after 12, long, agonizing years.  Finally we were to be made whole once again.  We had a mayor [sic] who ran on being the mayor that would reverse the Bloombitch/Klein reign of terror.  What did we wake up to that September morning last fall?  Were we to go to our permanent schools and start to clean, arrange and decorate our classrooms?  NO!  We as the Walking Dead were "forced" to report our ATR assignments.  Later that month, we were "forced" to go on "mandated interviews".  After our first rotation, we were again "forced" to go to a new school, were we were "forced" to be substitute teachers and "forced" to have to endure the indignities of both students and staff, the latter of which were, in some cases, 30 years our juniors.  

  Today I was supported by the entire 7th grade class of the school I was lucky enough to be "forced" rotated into.  The question arose while I was on my way home, should I let our union [another sic] know and could they put in a word for me?  My answer to that is "forced placements have been eliminated!"  But "forced" rotations, interviews and assignments are permitted by our holier-than-thou union.  
  The answer to this problem would simply be "vote the bastards out!"  But how can we when the newborns are "forced" to vote for the one party that will "force" them out of teaching and "force" the greatest kids in the universe to a mediocre education.  Keep your dues coming, suckers!


Friday, June 26, 2015

ATR to UFT: get the DOE to place us, to deal with NYC class size crisis

An ATR writes to the UFT, explaining that ATR placement can deal with the class size crisis: 

    As always, I want to follow up on my phone call today.  Over the past three days I have been commended by parents and student alike.  Tuesday and Thursday, students have gone as far as telling me that I "saved their lives" this past month in American History and parents have asked why I will not be back next year.  
  What could I tell them?  That the city has targeted senior teachers and that if one gets turned to an ATR (much like the Walking Dead) we can never be whole.  Now the argument that there are ATRs that get appointed is true if that ATR has under 10 years in the system.  The rest of us must be content being shuffled around like so much baggage.
   Leonie Haimson keeps talking about class sizes.  I have emailed her on the simple remedy, us.  Why can't the union fight to put teachers like me back into the classroom?  After next year the war begins anew about us.  The answer is simple.  Eliminate the ATR classification and make ALL salaries transportable.  
  I await your answer on this and the other questions that I have asked about.

Here's the class size crisis as Leonie Haimson has stated:

With videos: Press Conference on school overcrowding and the need for an expanded capital plan

Yesterday, Class Size Matters hosted a press conference on the steps of City Hall about the need to address school overcrowding by expanding the capital plan and appoint a Commission to improve school planning and the efficiency of school siting.

Speakers included NYC Council Member Danny Dromm, Chair of the Education committee, David Greenfield, chair of the Land Use Committee, and Council Members Mark Levine, Inez Barron, and Stephen Levin, along with many parent leaders.

I introduced the press conference by releasing a letter from the Public Advocate to the Mayor and the Chancellor, co-signed by 22 Councilmembers and many parent leaders, urging them to double the seats in the capital plan and appoint a Commission to make recommendations on how school planning and siting could be improved.   

Then I pointed out that when the Mayor ran for office he promised that he would support a more ambitious capital plan that would provide the space necessary to eliminate overcrowding and allow for smaller classes.  He also pledged to reform the Blue Book formula so that it more accurately reflected overcrowding and incorporated the need for smaller classes.  Yet the opposite has happened; the city cut $5B for schools compared to the last ten year capital plan under Bloomberg, and $2B compared to the preliminary ten year plan released just a few months ago. 

This is despite the fact that about half a million students are enrolled in extremely overcrowded schools and the problem is getting worse.  NYC is the fastest growing large city in the country, according to recent Census data, and yet the city has no realistic proposal to address the exploding student population.   The current school construction capital plan will meet less than half the need, given DOE’s own enrollment projections and utilization figures.

Moreover, the mayor has proposed the creation of 160,000 market rate housing units and 200,000 affordable units, without any plan for where the additional students will attend school.  The Blue Book working group also came up with recommendations to improve the accuracy of the school overcrowding formula in December that have yet to be released.

The result of this dysfunctional lack of planning is that hundreds of schools have lost their cluster rooms; thousands of students are assigned to lunch as early as 10 a.m., and/or have no access to the gym. Many special needs students are forced to receive their services in hallways and/or closets rather than in dedicated spaces, and class sizes in the early grades have reached a 15-year high.
Then Council Member Danny Dromm talked about damaging impact of overcrowding at the school in Queens where he once taught, with rampant overcrowding and class sizes as high as 38: “The problem in my school we had no place to put the students. …One day they opened the maintenance closet, took out the rakes and shovels and turned it into a speech classroom, without windows, so small you could barely get through the door, it was unbelievable to see that happen.  This is happening in many schools throughout the city…   With the expansion of affordable housing, the situation is only going to become worse with the influx of new students.”
Council Member Stephen Levin spoke of the need for responsible planning with huge development occurring in downtown Brooklyn, with residential high rises springing up rapidly:  “What we’re seeing in downtown Brooklyn and in a lot of neighborhoods in NYC is that our schools will continue to be overtaxed.  There has not been appropriate planning.  We are always playing catch up, we’re building well after the impact has already been felt…  We need to recognize that when we’re seeing these housing starts, we need to be pro-active, we need to put the money up front, and ensure the schools are ready when the housing comes online and not the other way around.”
CM Mark Levine pointed out how the DOE's Blue Book formula wrongly identifies many of the schools in his area of Washington Heights and West Harlem as underutilized,  “where schools bear the scars of decades of overcrowding.  They have lost their computer rooms, their music rooms, have no gyms or cafeterias, because it’s all been reclaimed for classroom space.  They have trailers comically referred to temporary structures even though they’ve been in place for a decade or more. For years the DOE has accounted for capacity by claiming these schools are not overcrowded, but only because we’ve lost all the space needed for a truly enriching education …  There is virtually no construction planned in Northern Manhattan and they are going to leave in place a status quo that is unacceptable. We are here to say, we need to correct the wrongs of the previous era and build in upper Manhattan and give our kids the space they need.”
Then CM David Greenfield spoke as the chair of the Land Use Committee: “We approve all zoning changes; when you you’re submitting a development project, there has to be coordination with the DOE and the Mayor’s office to make sure that the resources are there for schools for kids.  You can squeeze another person on a bus or in a park, but squeezing an extra child in a classroom has a lifelong impact on many of these children, and it is not fair.  We need to think about development holistically; not just about housing, or quality jobs; it’s also about infrastructure, and #1 in infrastructure has to be school seats for our children. “
CM Inez Barron spoke as a former principal and teacher:  “I spent 18 years as teacher, and 18 years as an administrator.  One year I had 34 students, which was very challenging.  The capital plan is not adequate of allocation for construction of new school buildings.  In the Mayor’s plan for expanding housing in East NY, he hasn’t included even one new school.”
Fe Florimon, chair of the CB12 Youth and Education Committee in Washington Heights and a member of the Community Education Council in District 6:   “We don’t need 38 kids in a classroom.  A budget of $25B [the city’s education budget] should be sufficient to reduce class size; this needs to be a top priority but we’re continuing the same pattern.  As much as I love you and voted for you, I beg you, Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Farina, to pay close attention to this matter, we need small classes, it’s for our kids.” 
Eduardo Hernandez of CEC 8 in the Bronx spoke about how it has been thirty years since District 8 got a new school: “Finally we’re getting a new school, even if it's right near a highway. School construction has been neglected for many years; also co-locations which take away classrooms have exacerbated this problem.  Hopefully this mayor will take notice and finally do the right thing.”  
Mario Aguila VP of the CEC in District 14 described how the high schools were hugely overcrowded, with up to forty students in a classroom.

CSM press conference 6.18.15 Mario Aguila, VP, CEC 14 in Brooklyn from Class Size Matters on Vimeo.

Kristin Gorman reported that there had been a Kindergarten waiting list of 70 children at her zoned school in Queens.  The waiting list was finally brought down when the preK program was eliminated, but “this is only a band-aid.  Why is a Democratic mayor, who many of us voted for, removing funds from education? I’m concerned about my children’s future.”
Wendy Chapman, co-founder of the organization Build Schools Now, dedicated to expanding school seats in the rapidly growing neighborhood of Tribeca, discussed the fact that even when funding is allotted for a school, the DOE often seems incapable of finding a site:  “There has been a school for this neighborhood in the capital budget for over a year; we’ve identified 11 possible sites for the school but it’s still not sited.  It’s very personal for us, every building that goes up just means more pressure that’s coming.”
Zakiyah Ansari of AQE spoke about how the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit was brought in part to address the need to reducing class size “Our children would learn better, our teachers will be able to teach better if only they had smaller classes.“

MC Sweeney, a parent at PS 196 in Queens, decried the fact that the DOE refuses to use real population data to properly plan for schools, and the result has been growing Kindergarten waiting lists, the loss of art rooms, and special needs students receiving their services in hallways and closets.  She said that parents are going to demand the doubling of seats in the capital plan to be voted on at the PEP meeting on June 23. 

Beth Eisgrau-Heller, a new parent at PS 8 in Brooklyn, also described the huge Kindergarten waiting list at her school, and how the capital plan needed to be expanded to prevent the disruption and divisiveness created by waiting lists and school overcrowding. (sorry no video!)

Here is a DNAinfo news article about our demands for a doubling of the seats in the capital plan .

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

NYC DOE Job fairs, ATRs need not apply, only inexperienced preferred

An ATR writes:

The Department of Education has been holding job fairs this month. But invitations have only been sent to new teacher recruits.

When ATRs contacted the DOE about the fairs they were told that there would be opportunities at the end of the summer. Of course, only the least favorable schools will still have openings at the end of the summer. None of this is surprising. This is a repeat of past years. The special problem this year is that chancellor Farina sounded off in recent years about ATRs' obligations to find positions for themselves and gave veiled threats to eliminate them. Her moves to "thin the pool" this year suggest that she could be pursuing this goal. The DOE & UFT have repeated the line that we need to retool, we need to get more 21st century appropriate licenses, we need to work on our resumes. Yet, constant word that ATRs are hearing is that principals can't or won't hire ATRs because they cost too much.

But why can't the UFT make the case for the value of experience over inexperience? Read the Chaz blog's latest entry which lays out the case for hiring experienced, licensed teachers in specialized subjects, such as Earth Science. As he points out, in scoring Regents exams it is clear that the Bloomberg-de Blasio policy of keeping experienced teachers out of class vacancies has a negative impact on Regents test scores. Read also the comments, which provide numerous testimonials about administrators passing over experienced teachers for novices.

Beyond personal testimonials, research backs up the case for experience over inexperience. Numerous studies indicate that teacher effectiveness increases with the number of years of teaching. See here and here. A 2005 study reported findings that teacher effectiveness increased with five years of teaching.  A 2007 study found that teacher effectiveness rose not just in the first three years, but in subsequent years as well.  

Yet, the supposedly progressive de Blasio administration continues the Michael Bloomberg era New York City school bias for inexperienced teachers over experienced teachers. In its adherence to Fair Student Funding the city is maintaining strong disincentives against experienced teachers getting picked up. All of the elements of deformer Bloomberg's war on teacher professionalism are being continued unchanged: massive denial of tenure, refusal to place veteran teachers, breaking of tenure and the pension system through the sort of bogus, frivolous observations mentioned earlier this week.

Where is the UFT on the recruitment fair issue or Fair Student Funding?  What happened to the hiring freeze that existed under some Bloomberg years? Any protests in the media or in back channels? We're waiting.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Field Supervisors, the proverbial DOE Sandmen vs. ATRs

Teacher ratings for the year are out and the DOE is giving career jeopardizing evaluation ratings that arise from teaching in substituting contexts. New York City excessed teachers, ATRs, if you haven't gotten your rating yet, click to this link.

As being covered well at the Chaz blog and the ICEUFT blog, the DOE has been giving U ratings to ATRs in substitute assignments. Read the blogs. Are there any ATRs writing comments defending the DOEUFT's status quo, defending the UFT's performance?

The observations of ATRs in rotating assignments is unprofessional and unacceptable on several counts:
*The ATRs often don't know the students.
*The ATRs often have been covering a class out of license, with or without the regular teacher's lesson plan.
*The ATRs are told to differentiate lessons for the students, but they have not met them or have not been provided their IEPs or other personal data such as ELL status.
*The people tolerating or designing these policies from De Blasio, on down to Farina, to ATR central, to the field supervisors are forgetting what they probably observed from their own childhood experiences – students do not consider substitutes worthy of respect, and the older the students, the less likely that they are to do the classwork.
*The ATRs are being evaluated on factors that are not sanctioned by the DOE-UFT contract: Common Core and Danielson, when the ATRs are supposed to be evaluated under "Teaching for the 21st Century."
*Many ATRs are getting their first stream of U ratings and letters in the file in 21 years. Doesn't it seem like Farina's DOE is trying to beat the clock to prevent teachers from collecting full pensions. 

We ought to recognize the bigger picture of what is happening. Just as with the Sandmen in the film "Logan's Run," who hunt down people for termination the Runners, those people over 30 years of age that refuse to submit to euthenasia, this U-rating process is feeding into larger societal trends of deprofessionalizing, of ending careers of people over 45, of accomplishing the effective breaking of tenure, of evading paying full pensions due, all goals of reformer politicians such as Cuomo. Age discrimination is rampant in the employment field. The DOE is accomplishing the introduction of the larger social trend of terminating or harassment of workers over 45. On the latter, see the report, "Is 45 the new old age in the workplace?" which references "Logan's Run." 

The DOEUFT: The DOE can do all of this, unimpeded because the Mulgrew (Unity & New Action endorsed) and Barr led UFT does not and will not make priorities out of protecting ATRs and abiding the contract. Instead, the UFT continuously refuses to allow ATRs to have their own true representatives. See for example here and here.

Violation of union obligations to ATRs is the by-product of the UFT's dogged refusal to allow true, accountable representatives. While it may not be actual collusion, in end result: allowing the destruction of professional lives, the effect is as though there is collusion.

Things were better under Cathie Black: The UFT actually gains from the absurd system of ATRs in rotation, and playing along with the fraud that ATRs just need to try harder to find jobs during the Open Market Transfer period. From a budgetary perspective it would make sense to place ATRs. However, the UFT goes along with the rotation system, one of the early innovations of Chancellor Walcott. Here's how the UFT benefits: the UFT draws in full dues for the ATRs in rotations plus it pulls in dues from those teachers in positions that the ATRs could have otherwise filled. So, the UFT benefits by getting two dues income streams. It is curious that the UFT treasurer is in a group message to ATRs. Are the DOE and the UFT coordinating on certain levels that ATRs should know about but do not? See the latest post at 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

UFT, cut the fog: What is happening with the ATRs in the fall? And the ATR path to cutting class sizes

A pair of sentiments on the ATR crisis, maybe related:

The DOE/UFT needs to cut the fog: what is happening to ACRs/ATRs and the other rotated, excessed staff in the New York City schools this fall? [Given the aloofness from their constituents, maybe we should refer to the DOE and the UFT in the same breath, DOUFT.] There are different rumors: the DOE plans to get rid of the ATRs next year; the DOE plans to place all the ATRs next year. Just what does Farina plan on doing with us? And is the UFT advocating for us at all, or is the UFT taking a "whatever" approach?

(Remember to sign the petition for ATR chapter representation in the UFT.)
And one rotating teacher forwarded this item, on overcrowded classes, from the NYC Public School Parents newsletter. This would of course resolve the eternal large class size crisis that has plagued the city schools for years. The ATR did urge all ACRs/ATRs to call and email their city councilor, and report the abuse of ATRs. Find your city councilor here.

Urgent! Please call your Council Member today about need to address school overcrowding

As you know, NYC public schools are badly overcrowded and becoming more so every day. The city's capital plan for schools is underfunded by DOE's own admission, and if not expanded will likely lead to even worse overcrowding. The need for more schools is especially true as the Mayor is rapidly expanding preK and has a plan to encourage the building of 160,000 market rate housing units and 200,000 affordable units, which will further accelerate enrollment growth.

To address this crisis, Public Advocate Letitia James has written a letter to the Chancellor and the Mayor, urging them to double the school seats in the capital plan and to appoint a Commission to improve the efficiency of school planning and siting. Class Size Matters and many CEC leaders have signed onto this letter, as well as Daniel Dromm, Chair of the NYC Council Education Committee and Michael Mulgrew, UFT President. The letter is posted here. Here is a fact sheet about this issue. Since that letter was sent yesterday, four more Council Members have signed on: CMs Barron, Gentile, Johnson and King.

If your Council Members are not listed above, please call them TODAY, and ask them if they will sign onto the letter from the Public Advocate and Class Size Matters, urging the Mayor and Chancellor to alleviate the school overcrowding crisis by expanding the capital plan. You can easily find their phone numbers by entering your address here. If the city fails to expand the plan, your children and thousands of others are likely to suffer even worse overcrowding and larger class sizes in the future.

And please, whatever message you hear back, whether positive or negative, let me know by responding to this message. The Council will vote on the capital plan by the end of this month, so this is an urgent issue.

Thanks as ever for your support!

On the other hand, placement of ACRs and ATRs will in many places accomplish the elimination of ACRs/ATRs from the school system. In schools such as the ones that Chaz cited in Queens these are places where careers are terminated.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

ATR issue burning up the digital mediasphere & ATR chapter petition deadline nears

The cause of an elected chapter for ATR representatives is gaining recognition.

Recently the NYC Educator blog discussed the plight of how the UFT denies elected representatives of their own rank in the teachers union, "Mary Ahern on ATRs and UFT Elections".

And James Eterno discussed the issue at length at the ICEUFT blog. His article was timed with ATRs' appeal to the national teachers federation, the AFT, president Randi Weingarten, in "ATR ELECTION APPEAL SENT TO AFT PRESIDENT WEINGARTEN". The teachers union and the federation must stand on principle, not their bureaucratic self-interest.

Please sign the petition for ATR chapter representation. Here's the URL address for downloading a physical copy of the petition. 
No dues without authentic representation! The June 8, 2015 chapter petition deadline is approaching.