Once upon a time the news side and the editorial side of newspapers were totally separate – now only fond memories. The NY Daily News has run two articles “reporting” on plans to dissolve the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool, the articles (here and here) in reality are editorials masked as news articles panning the efforts.
Teachers have been excessed from schools for decades – schools lost funding, lost student enrollment and schools closed. The teachers were simply placed into others schools in the district, the system did not dissolve in chaos and confusion, the excessed teachers ranged from teachers in the system for a year to two to senior teachers.
As part of the 2005 union contract agreement teachers received substantial raises, and, the department changed the system – rather than assigning excessed teachers to other schools the department placed them in a “pool,” the teachers must seek their own jobs on the Open Market, the department’s internal job seeking site, and in the meantime are assigned to a different school each week. Joel Klein, the chancellor trashed teachers in the ATR pool and vigorously sought legislation to lay off, in effect fire, teachers in the ATR pool after a fixed amount of time.
Teachers in the ATR pool are observed by ATR field supervisors and rated as are all other teachers. No surprise, they fall on a bell-shaped curve – 2/3 range from C- to C+ … Unfortunately the new mayor and chancellor have “bought into” the canard that principals should have the right to hire ALL teachers. The 2.8% of teachers who received an unsatisfactory rating in June, 2013 were all hired by principals, the 30-40% of teachers who had their probation extended were hired by their principals, the 40% of teachers who leave before five years were hired by their principals, the 70% of teachers in high needs middle schools who leave after three years were hired by their own principals.(See “Who Stays, Who Leaves” Study)
Looks like principals don’t do such a good job of hiring…
1200 teachers = a hundred million dollars.
The department has been wasting a hundred million dollars not to improve the school system – the ATR system is a political ploy to rid the system of seniority and tenure, an attack on the union that costs the city 100 million a year – not only disgraceful, but cruel.
Among the 1200 teachers in the ATR pool are over 200 guidance counselors.
Why not assign them to suspension centers and transfer high schools to counsel at-risk kids?
How about assigning them to schools with high percentages of kids from shelters?
How about assigning teachers to schools with large percentages of high needs kids to work one-on-one? Actually tutoring kids…
With the wave of a pen 1200 educators could actually be working with kids.
If 1% or 5% or 10% are inadequate do what management is supposed to do … document, offer assistance, assign a mentor, and, take actions to dismiss the teacher, it’s called due process – the rule of law.
I was speaking with two elementary school teachers … they knew I was a “union activist,” they said to tell the powers that be that in next contract they want money and respect.
For a dozen years there has been a growing denigration of teachers, nice words and disrespectful actions. Teachers feel beaten down, unappreciated, and frustrated.
The abolition of the ATR Pool would start by saving 100 million; just as important it would symbolize a school leadership willing to roll back the ludicrous policies of the old guard.
When the department reorganized the GED programs and other parts of the alternative high school program (District 79) the department and the union negotiated expedited procedures for the placement of staff) … the same can be done for ATR teachers.
Let’s get started redesigning the school system for the benefit of the kids.