“Legal Graft:” Sacrificing Kids for the Larger Goal, Weakening/Destroying the Teacher Union


How do you define a “conflict of interest”?
If a legislator serves on the Banking Committee and works for a law firm that does business with the State we bemoan the moral and ethical, although not legal, conflict of interest, sometimes referred to as “legal graft.”
If a not-for-profit that strongly, publicly supports Department of Ed policy also receives millions of dollars from the Department, is that also a “moral and ethical” conflict of interest?
The New Teacher Project (TNTP) testified for the Department at the 2005 Contract Negotiations Fact Finding, opposing seniority transfers and supporting the Open Market Transfer system. They issued a Report supporting the plan. A week ago they issued another Report supporting laying off ATRs who do not acquire a job through the Open Market system within 18 months of excess.  TNTP also receives millions of dollars from the Department for assisting in running the Chancellor Fellow’s Program. Is this also a kind of “legal graft”?
A little history:
* about 20 years ago a small high school in Queens made a proposal to the union … they could opt-out of the seniority transfer system and substitute what came to be called the School Based Option (SBO) Personnel and Transfer Plan. The union supported the plan, which continued to grow in popularity – by 2003 more than half of all schools had chosen the SBO plan.
* the SBO Personnel and Transfer Plan established a committee made up of a majority of teachers, they posted criteria, interviewed and selected candidates, unsuccessful candidates could file grievances that were resolved in an expedited fashion. The union, in an awkward situation, gave advise to SBO committees and represented teachers
* seniority transfer rules were narrow – only half of all vacancies were available for seniority transfers, a “vacancy” was defined as a position that became available because of teachers’ retirement or resignation. For example, in a “desirable” district, with 1500 teachers, only 10-15 positions would appear on the Seniority Transfer List.
* no more than 5% of teachers could transfer out of any school, teachers needed three consecutive satisfactory ratings, in some instances teachers in shortage areas could not transfer.
During the 2005 contract negotiations Klein kept referring to that “totally unsatisfactory teacher,” who made a deal with his principal to transfer, who was imposed upon another school. The problem: no one could find that teacher … and, why did the principal rate the teacher satisfactory for three consecutive years?
We are in the third Open Market “season,” many, many thousands of teachers have moved from school to school. Aside from new schools phasing in under Article 18 of the Agreement, the principal is the sole determinant of who gets hired.
Due to the restructuring of District 79 (the abolition of numerous GED programs) and the creation of GED Plus hundreds of jobs were eliminated, many of these teachers, who had only taught in GED programs, and were not absorbed by other schools, became ATRs.
Thousands and thousands of student GED seats were eliminated.
Older teachers from phase out schools, who have higher salaries, and impact school budgets, also could not find positions.
The Internet has been abuzz with comment:
 Eduwonkette looks at the give and take and sniffs something afoul at Tweed.
Leo Casey at Edwize hammers the TNTP data and muses about their cozy relationship with Tweed.
Tim Daly at TNTP defends. 
Eduwonk sees Tweed winning the struggle in the long run.
 The UFT is going to have to deal on this at some point and their position most likely gets weaker as time goes on.
There are basic unanswered questions:
How has the Open Market System impacted “hard to staff” schools?
The Open Market/Fair Student Funding (FSF) “theory” is that experienced, more effective teachers will move to traditionally “hard to staff” schools … what does the data show?
Have teachers fled “more difficult” for “less difficult” schools?
There are hundreds of “low achieving” schools, whether we use the NCLB SURR/SINI designation or the DOE School Progress Reports … are experienced, “more effective” teachers moving into, or, away from “more difficult” schools?
Who is “taking advantage” of the Open Market? new teachers? experienced teachers?
A key to improving student achievement is teacher retention … has Open Market, and FSF, created a more stable school system?
For those of us who see more of Pinocchio than Dewey at the top of Tweed it appears that the dustup over ATRs is simply part of a strategy to weaken the union … and … has nothing to do with kids … but, then again, hasn’t that always been the case with this administration?

One response to ““Legal Graft:” Sacrificing Kids for the Larger Goal, Weakening/Destroying the Teacher Union

  1. Peter:

    Good questions. Let’s see if any answers are forthcoming. I highly doubt it. “childern last” will continue as long as Kleinberg are in office.

    By the way, the union needs to take some blame for aiding the DOE in their scheme to remove veteran teachers.


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