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
Thursday, August 22, 2019
Earlier in August the NYC Department of Education shut off the open market transfer for a few days and then reopened it. (The farce of the transfer system is addressed here.)
The DOE has held a number of job fairs over the summer and it has not informed actually licensed and experienced teachers (teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve - ATR) of these job fairs. The job fairs in the last weeks of the month have positions in the hard to staff schools and in the harder to fill licenses: science, special education.
The DOE has the gall, once again, to hire inexperienced newbies over the ATRs who wish to actually teach as they had done for years, before Randi Weingarten gave up the seniority transfer in 2005 (referred to here) and the United Federation of Teachers got teachers to go along with this.
The UFT challenges none of this; and it goes by the same script that it is up ATRs to get a job, when everyone knows that salary is what keeps them from being considered. Adding insult to injuries is that the UFT also crows about 3,000 new teachers being added to the teaching force. (Really, they are happy about adding 3,000 people who will pay dues; so the union actually has an incentive for the city to add newbies into jobs that experienced teachers could have.)
Forget about the line that the NYCDOE/UFT uses: that ATRs won't factor into raising average teacher salary in the school budget. Admins are smart. They know that whatever good budget arrangement that exists this year could be turned around in a future contract. They know that the formula could change three years down the road and the school will have to pay for the more expensive teacher. So, the school administration plays it safe and continues to go for the new, inexperienced teacher. This is why teachers with many years in the system will not get picked up by schools.
Of course, there is an age factor here: the ATRs tend to be over 35 years of age; most: over 50 years old. The newer teachers are in their early or mid-20s.
As to teachers in the reserve that will be placed into positions as opposed to just being assigned to schools in September: the DOE waits until the last possible moment, less than a week before school starts, to inform teachers of which school they will be assigned to. Furthermore, the notice omits information as to which topics they will be teaching. Memo to admins from people that actually teach in the classroom: different grades mean different curricula. Contrast this with other teachers who are informed at the end of June as to what their program will be. All of this means hastier preparation in the days before students return to the classroom.
All of these practices under De Blasio and Carranza are no different from Bloomberg, Klein and Walcott. Actually, some practices are worse under Carranza: giving insanely inflated raises to top administration. Several high level admins got raises ranging from 15 percent to 35 percent --compare this to the two to three percent salary raise in the last teachers contract. There was news last Saturday that there are now 36 administrators earning over $200,000 per year, a greater than 50 percent increase over the number of DOE admins earning that kind of salary in the last fiscal year. So, if the city has the money to give administration favorites, then why isn't this money given instead to the teachers who are in the classrooms? The NYCDOE/UFT cannot in good name continue to go by the script that there is no money for reverting to the teacher unit system (pre Fair School Funding) when it spends this kind of money.
The UFT needs actually advocate for its members: it needs to press the city to go back to the system that worked in the past: valuing experience. The union needs to give preference to the ATRs, not to the inexperienced.