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, April 5, 2016

Teachers appeal to the union, in defense of an ATR

EdNotes reported that teachers at a MORE caucus leaning school were upset with how an ATR was being treated by the field supervisor who was visiting the ATR at the school.The teachers gave the ATR teacher their backs by signing letters of support for the excessed teacher! The union needs to wake up and show the same level of commitment that Mike, EdNotes and the teachers at this school did for this ATR.

ATRs experiencing the DOE railroading and inadequate UFT defense need to get involved in the class action lawsuit.

Teachersat Elementary School Support ATR With Letters of Support

There's an ATR in my school that is going through hell 
with his field supervisor.  My CL had the UFT Dist Rep come to our school to meet with the ATR when his field supv scheduled a meeting with the ATR and was planing to bring another field supv with her.  I suspect she was bringing back up bc the last time she was at our school the ATR asked me to be present (CL was unavailable at the time).  She refused to have a discussion with him in my presence (as his union representation). My heart goes out to this guy bc it seems clear to me he is being set up for a U rating.  He comes to our school and is given whatever coverage is available and he truly does his best to assist our kids as best he can under these circumstances.  We can look out for him as long as he is at PS -- but we can't do anything about his field supv ratings and once he's gone I'm assuming he won't find the same support elsewhere.  Is there anyone he can contact to help him navigate the bullshit?... This is the first ATR we've had that has told me their story.  I'm always welcoming to them and let them know we have an honest CL they can reach out to but since they don't know me they rarely open up like this guy did.  He overheard a conversation I was having about the state of our union and gambled I could be trusted.  This guy said PS --- is the first school he's been in where he feels some union strength-.... Thanks for everything you guys do----teachers would have no avenues to follow if it weren't for people like you. .... email to MORE activists from former chapter leader
This was sent to Mike Schirtzer and myself from a trusted supporter and source. (I'm not using her name or school to protect the ATR who could be traced - she would be fine with using her name.)

She noticed a very competent ATR being harassed in her school and jumped in to support him along with her colleagues. That school has 40 people signed up to be MORE members. (They could have even run their own slate in the UFT elections out of their school alone.)

Having his story reinforced by a trusted teacher and former chapter leader is immense. Our advice to her was to gather support within the school for the ATR by writing letters about his work in the school for him to use in a defense and she did exactly that.

She put me in touch with the ATR and we spoke for hours and I got the full story of the actions of his field supervisor and her cohorts. His story is very credible. And there might even be religious persecution issues on the table.

During our conversation he mentioned others in some schools, including principals, who praised his efforts. I suggested he start gathering names and numbers and possible statements. If they bring him upon 3020a charges, there will be a list of witnesses for him.

We hear so many complaints from ATRs about the treatment they get from colleagues in schools they are sent to. One ATR I spoke too calls the field supervisors "failed supervisors." The apparently awful James Quail, a former principal and district superintendent from my district whom I've known since 1970, is the grim reaper of field supervisors, pops up in the picture. 

We hear a lot about the gotcha mentality of ATR field supervisors - the DOE wasteful jobs program for retired principals.
We also hear lies and slanders from people with their own political agenda that MORE is not supportive of ATRs when in fact the members of MORE who have influence in their schools bend over backwards to be supportive, as this story confirms.

The ATR told me that this school had the most serious sense of union of any school he has been in since he became an ATR. And there is no little irony that the school leans toward MORE instead of Unity for support.

The MORE contact, upon seeing an ATR who had impressed people in the school come under attack by a new field supervisor (the old one found no fault), took action by writing letters of support for the ATR and sending them out to come point people at the union and possibly the DOE with more people to come if the harassment continues. They also gave the ATR copies. And she went in when he met with the Field Supervisor at one point and at another with a district rep. 

When will the UFT say something about the enormous waste in paying field supervisors to observe people functioning as substitute teachers? Do they observe regular subs? Did anyone in the history of this school system spend time and money to observe subs?

This is the letter that has been sent to Amy Arundell at the UFT who has contacted me -- and repeatedly - that she will get involved. I give Amy the benefit of the doubt and will track the outcome.
Dear Amy Arundell,
Mr. X is an ATR who was sent to our school for one of his temporary assignments. He arrived at school each morning and performed his duties as a substitute teacher in various classes depending upon which of our teachers was absent that day. He made the best of a very difficult situation. Although he did not know our students and did not know what grade or type of class (self-contained, ICT, bilingual, general ed) he would be assigned to cover, he engaged the students and we were happy to have him as part of our school community. He was punctual, respectful and eager to assist our school community on each day he arrived in our school.

As you are aware, ATRs are given sub assignments no different from day-to-day subs, yet they are observed and are expected to teach as if they have the same familiarity with the class as a permanent staff member would be expected to have. This unfair process allows for abuse on the part of field supervisors who too often act as if they are observing a teacher who has spent months with the children they are teaching rather than someone who has met a class for the first time and may have zero experience with that particular grade or may be teaching a class out of their license area.

We are writing to you, the UFT rep who is assigned to assist ATRs, to express our concern that Mr. X is being set up for failure by his field supervisor who, in our opinion, has been less than professional and fair with him. This concern was brought to the attention of UFT District --- Rep,  who promptly came to our school and met with Mr. X and his field supervisor Ms. Y as well as an additional field supervisor, who was invited by Ms. Y. The fact that Ms. Y felt it necessary to invite a co-worker to attend reeks of intimidation. It is the reason we asked [the dist rep] to come to the school when this meeting was scheduled. It was clear to us that Mr. X was about to be unfairly tag-teamed by two field supervisors as an act of intimidation. There is no other reason for two field supervisors, paid by the tax payers, to do the job of one field supervisor.
Mr. X has finished his rotation at PS X. But we have told him to think of PS X as his home school and to keep in touch with us regarding his treatment elsewhere. We are asking that you initiate and maintain contact with Mr. X and ensure that he is not scapegoated out of a job in order for a field supervisor to make her bones with the DOE. Based on how Mr. X conducted himself at PS X, it is clear to us that the man deserves to keep his paycheck and benefits. We believe in having a strong union that looks out for our most vulnerable members and it is our hope that you will demonstrate that such strength still exists. We thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

CL, PS X Chapter Leader
------, Former PS ----- Chapter Leader
Dear -------

We the undersigned support our union brothers and sisters who are ATRs. Our current and former chapter leader keep us informed on union matters and we realize that ATRs have lost their permanent positions through no fault of their own We realize that our school could be phased out in the near future and we too could find ourselves in an ATR pool where we will be vulnerable to lose our jobs, pensions and health benefits. We feel strongly that ATRs be protected and we ask that Mr. ....... be treated in a manner we would expect to be treated under such circumstances. It is our hope that Mr. ........ is not left hanging out on a limb without support now that he has left our school. We hope that our union stands by him and protects him from any injustices that he may face in his future as he travels from school to school as an ATR. It is what we would want our union to do for us if we had to walk in his shoes. 
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
PS ..... Staff Members (signed below)

A reminder: ATRs that are seeing themselves heading in the direction of a U rating for the year are urged to contact, about joining a class action suit.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Big story about a consulting firm for flyby ATR observations

There's a log of important ATR stories in Ed Notes: there's a report of a consulting firm for the observations that appears to show a conflict of interest.

ATRS Targeted by Brienza Consultant Firm Formerly Run by Mulgrew's Sister

An ATR told me an interesting story. In addition to a field

supervisor, he was also visited by some guy from a company called Brienza Academic Advantage who told him they were hired by the DOE to "assist" ATRs - read that as - "assist the DOE in getting rid of" ATRs who have been targeted.

Michael Mulgrew's sister, Kathleen Mulgrew-Daretany, was the COO of Brienza, as reported by Sue Edelman in an April 28, 2013 article:

During her leave, Mulgrew-Daretany worked as chief operating officer for Brienza’s Academic Advantage, a Brooklyn-based company that sells teacher-training seminars and student tutoring. She is listed as COO in a Brienza’s organizational chart filed with the DOE. She left “last year,” a company official said.

DOE payments to Brienza’s rose from $5,109 in 2002 to $10.9 million in 2012, when the city received No Child Left Behind funds for after-school tutoring, officials said.
What happened when this Brienza guy observed the ATR? Well, the ATR was not actually teaching a class but in there to assist another teacher and during the lesson played no role at all.

So how astounded was he when this Brienza guy tells him he wants to meet on the ATRs prep to discuss his "lesson" and see where it could be improved.

"But I didn't teach a lesson," says the ATR.

The Brienza guy ignores what he said and insists there was a lesson.

Surreal in some worlds, but in the tangled relationship between the UFT and the DOE, business as usual.

Let's follow the bouncing ball:
  • The UFT abandons ATRs to the fates and refuses to give them any representation by allowing them their own chapter. 
  • When challenged the UFT/Unity leadership says "ATRs are not a permanent position."
  • The DOE agrees with their partners at the UFT - that the ATRs are not permanent and has a plan to phase them out. They spend an enormous amount of money hiring field supervisors - known among many ATRs as "failed supervisors" in previous positions.
  • In addition to the failed supervisors being used to go after ATRs we now find out that they have hired Brienza, whose COO was the sister of the UFT president.
  • Brienza is clearly hired not to assist the ATRs but to assist the field/failed supervisors in removing ATRs who become a target.
  • They are all being very careful to make sure that when they observe the ATRs they are covering in their license areas and they often badger the people in the schools to make sure to get certain classes for the ATR, better if they are the worst classes in the school -- yes, some people at the school level are annoyed enough at these FS and consultants to be supportive of ATRs whom they think are doing a good job in a bad situation.  
In all of my criticism of the UFT I rarely accuse the leadership of out and out corruption. But someone explain to me how they are so silent while enormous amounts of money is being spent to monitor people who are in essence substitute teachers. In the over 100 year history of the NYC school system, have outside agents ever been hired to monitor subs? So we know that the way a sub does his or her job is and has always been irrelevant as long as they are not utter incompetents.

So it is clear that the very purpose of field supervisors and Brienza is to get rid of people by putting enough pressure on them to get them to leave. We know that there are union officials who have been told about these stories. Public silence.

That the UFT/Unity Caucus leadership is complicit even if not outright, but by their silence.