It is common knowledge that there are over a thousand Absent Teacher Reserves (ATR's) roaming around with no teaching assignments and wondering what their future is? What is their future? Uncertain at best and ominious at worst.
First, let's start on why we have all these ATR's in the first place. Until this year all excessed teachers were placed in teaching positions within their borough before any other teacher can be hired. However, that all changed this year when the Department of Education allowed schools to hire newly-minted teachers and even uncertified teachers from the alternate certifaction programs like Teach For America & the Teaching Fellows Program without placing the excessed teachers. The DOE did not even try to pretend to care about the ATR's by having their job fair AFTER the new teacher job fair. Therefore, many of the schools that needed teachers were inclined and maybe even pressured to hire the new teacher over the experienced teacher.
Second, why are there so many ATR's? Good question and an equally good answer. The closing down of the large schools into small schools was a primary reason. See, once a large school closes and is replaced by small schools, the small schools are only required to select 50% of the large school staff and since many of the small school principals come from the Leadership Program who's emphasis is on loyality to the DOE and ignorance of how to collaberate with the teaching staff, many of the more experienced and knowledgable teachers were not selected in the interview process. To be fair, many of these teachers didn't bother to apply to the small schools since small school teachers are required to take on more non-teaching responsibilities and prepare more preps.
Third, a secondary reason is the reduced budgets to the remaining schools that are not part of the empowerment zone. Yes, I know the DOE said that the extra money the empowerment zone schools comes from the elimination of mid-level district administrators. However, DOE's lack of transparancy makes that claim highly suspect. Many of the non-empowerment schools have suffered budget cuts for this year. The result, more excessed teachers!
Finally, the increased hiring of new teachers, encouraged by DOE with recruitment packages and job fairs, at the expense of the excessed teachers, increased the ATR's.
The result is that there are over 1,000 teachers without their own classrooms.
Why would the DOE have 1,000+ ATR's doing no classroom teaching? Wouldn't it be in their best interest to place these teachers into the classroom by reducing class size? You would think so since lower class sizes would benefit the children and result in higher test scores. However, Mayor Bloomberg & Chancellor Klein are not interested in the children but are looking long-term to the next contract where their goal is to fire these ATR's.
Just think, the Kleinberg people will wail how the teachers' contract forces them to pay over 1000 teachers their full salary, including senority time, and step pay raises, while they are just doing day-to-day substitute teaching. The Daily News, New York Post, & the Sun will have full page editorials demanding the end to tenure for life for the ATR's and even Newsday & the New York Times will ask for contract changes. The result will be a media blitz that puts the union on the defensive with the ultimate goal of putting a time limit on ATR's in finding a full-time teaching job. An example of this is in Chicago where excessed teachers have 18 months to find a job. If not, they are fired!
I don't believe that whichever faction wins the UFT election will agree to an ATR time limit. Yes even gasp Unity! However, unless the UFT becomes pro-active on this issue by bringing up the class size issue, the waste of experienced & talented teachers while hiring untested and clueless people from alternate certification programs, and failing to ensure a quality teacher in every classroom by running an "education on the cheap" program. The union will find itself increasingly on the defensive and the political pressure may result in an ATR time limit and the beginning of the end of teacher tenure. Therefore, it is a must that the UFT come out strong and hard over how Kleinberg has caused the ATR mess.
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