Friday, May 16, 2008

The Principal, The Budget, The "Rubber Room", The ATRs, and the 2005 Contract


There seems to be some misunderstanding on what a Principal can do, or not do to a teacher. Let me explain it as simply as possible. A Principal can remove a teacher simply by using "false or frivolous accusations" or "phony observation reports" to have a teacher removed from the school. These "false or frivolous accusations" or "phony observation reports" are the most common procedures on how Principals send teachers they don't like to the "rubber room". Let's see how the DOE has caused the vast increase in ATRs and "rubber room" teachers.

School Budget: The "fair student funding program" puts pressure on the Principals to hire lower-paid teachers at the expense of the highly-paid veteran teacher. Many a Principal, especially the Leadership Academy Principals, would rather hire two $43.362 teachers than a $100,049 teacher. Who can blame them? With money tight and more school budget cuts on the way, it is mighty tempting to get two for the price of one and still have $13,325 to spend for other school activities.

Teacher Removal Process: It used to be that when a Principal received permission to remove a teacher, it was for some serious misconduct and that teacher stayed on the school's payroll for a full year. Now, because of the Chancellor's regulations and the anti-teacher crusades at Tweed, the Principal can remove teachers for the most minor of infractions, or for nothing at all. To make it even easier on the principal, the teacher's salary is taken off the school's payroll after only sixty days! That means, that a Principal can get rid of a senior teacher in April and know that the teacher's salary will be off the school's payroll in September. Is it any wonder the "rubber rooms" are bursting at the seems?

The ATRs: The explosion of ATRs in the last couple of years can be laid at the doorstep of the DOE and their policy of encouraging Principals to hire lower-paid and inexperience teachers at the expense of the veteran teacher. The DOE policy of closing schools and excessing these teachers added to the ATR crisis. In fact, the DOE has a new teacher job fair before an ATR job fair is scheduled. The ATR problem has resulted in the UFT to file an age discrimination lawsuit since many of the ATRs are 50 years old or older.

The 2005 Contract: We all know how terrible the 2005 contract was. However, lets go over it's contribution to the ATR crises. The 2005 contract allowed the DOE to eliminate the "Seniority Transfer System" and replace it with the "Open Market System". The UFT spin mister "Leo Casey" told us in Edwize that all jobs will now be advertised and not hidden by the Principals. What he didn't say is that the UFT knew very well that the elimination of the "Seniority Transfer System" would result in the ATR crises, as Principals would look for younger teachers at the expense of the older veterans.

Thee UFT should stop negotiating with the Kleinberg administration and prepare strategies with the next administration for eliminating the "rubber room" and ATR issues. In addition, the reinstatement of the "Seniority Transfer System" and adjusting the "fair student funding" formula should be a top prority. Finally, I would prepare a hard-hitting media blitz on how the Kleinberg administration has put children last based upon class size , teacher turnover, overcrowded schools, and flat test scores and call it the DOE'S "Children Last Program".

27 comments:

NYC Educator said...

The institution of the so-called "open-market" system replaced the UFT transfer system, and seniority transfers were dumped into the trash. Casey wrote of the successes of the new system, praising the number of moves while blatantly ignoring teachers doomed to ATR.

The UFT worsened the situation by approving the 3rd reorg, which made it, just as you said, highly unlikely that any principal would pick up senior teachers displaced by the regular school closings that have typified the Tweed MO.

17 (really 15) more years said...

My co-worker, an 18 year veteran, is currently under the gun by administration. They have started creating their paper trail, and he knows that they are actively trying to get rid of him (unfortunately, he foolishly gives them ammunition- but that's another story). Why? To save the positions of 2 little newbies, both who got into the building because of who they knew. And if both of them taught for 100 years, neither one of them could ever be as good as he is. But they are put up on a pedestal and worshipped by administration.

Anonymous said...

Chaz:

Again, you have got it exactly right, and put the pieces into context.

There is one point that should be added. That is that the Rubber Room issue and the ATR issue are related in that after most of the Rubber Room occupants serve their suspensions and/or fines (yes the overwhelming numbers are found guilty by the tainted arbitrators in the 3020a process)they join the ATR pool.

Socrates said...

If the majority are found guilty, it's a good thing they're not allowed to be in classrooms!

17 (really 15) more years said...

Here goes Socrates again, not knowing what he's talking about. Did he totally ignore the "tainted arbitrators"?

Pissed Off said...

Nazi Germany found Jews guilty of heinous crimes too--were all those people also guilty Socrates?

Socrates said...

I love that you guys can, presumably with a straight face, compare Klein and Blomberg to Nazis. How do you face yourselves in the mirror each morning? You have no middle ground - either you're with us or you're with the Nazis. Hmm, that refrain sounds familiar. Yours is the language of demagogues of all stripes.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mr. Socrates!

You are wasting your time posting in this blog for two reasons:

1. The people who read this blog know that you are full of shit.

2. The Socratic method depends on intellectually honest people asking and answering questions in order to arrive at "the truth". You, however, serve up your opinions, and convince nobody.

Chaz said...

Anon:

Sorry, I just assumed that everybody knew that teachers released from the "rubber room" become "ATRs".

As for tainted arbitrators, that may be somewhat unfair. I believe they are neutral, given the constraints of the DOE/UFT 3020-a process. See my April 16th post.

Everybody:

Please don't respond to that phony teacher, socrates. I tried to moderate my comments but ending up losing some of your comments. Ignore him and he will go away.

Anonymous said...

Chaz:

You, yourself, wrote in your April 16 post that the arbitrators in the state can only hear one 3020a case every two years, while the city arbitrators serve on a permanent panel of 20. To remain on the panel they must please both sides. To do that, they split the difference. The fact that very few people are found absolutely innocent is very revealing.

You and your other readers would not believe some of these cases, and the trivial nonsense people are penalized for.

What is really needed is to air some of these outragous cases in full detail.

Chaz said...

anon:

It's the process that is unfair, not the arbitrators. Remember, a letter-to-the-file given by the arbitrator is a penalty.

I believe that most educators know that the DOE charges teachers with the most trivial of offenses. These offenses are resolved in the principal's office in the rest of the State.

We also know that 90% of the teachers charged under 3020-a will end up back in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

Chaz:

If the arbitrator decides that you only get a letter in the file then you are not guilty of the charges, and you go right back to your position.

But these arbitrators are finding almost everybody guilty of some of the charges and are handing out suspensions and/or fines.

After the penalty is served, the teacher becomes an ATR, and we just don't know how this ATR situation will turn out.

Socrates said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Woodlass said...

I wrote a version of this comment yesterday afternoon after Chaz's at 3:54, but either I posted it somewhere else by mistake or it just didn't take. This replaces that original, if it shows up somewhere; I fixed some things in it:

------------------------------------

About those tainted or not so tainted arbitrators ...

I just learned from a district rep last week that there's a case (might be more of them as well, don't know) where all three arbitrators ruled in favor of the teacher, and the BoE ignored the finding entirely.

I've also heard much the same things about the number and frivolous nature of the fines being handed out, to the tune of thousands of dollars each. Is the BoE also trying to recoup some cash losses removing all these teachers? I know that sounds stupid, since a fine of several thou doesn't come near a senior salary, but it's equally stupid to put all these people in a makeshift jail for small misdemeanors that have nothing to do with children. When will the union stand up to THAT no-brainer.

Here's another peak into the wobbly grievance/arbitration construct our union signed onto:

The teacher in the job I was excessed from had the wrong level license. They tried to fiddle around with this after I grieved, but it was established nevertheless that the person will remain on probation in the new license they issued him until 2009. You'd think that the Step II would have been sustained, since the man still doesn't have a more legitimate license than I, but no, it was denied by the compromised chancellor's rep. Worse still is that our UFT grievance committee didn't think my case "merited" arbitration, which was a stunning response to a question of who's got the right license. I appealed, they may reverse themselves, but that I had to appeal in the first place is beyond comprehension. If the union doesn't think license transgressions merit arbitration, what in the contract does?

The system is utterly broken, and they can all lie about it til doomsday, but it won't change the reality.

Socrates said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chaz said...

Anon:

You are wrong. If an arbitrator gives you a letter-to-the-file, that arbitrator found you guilty. You cannot get your position back, unless the principal wants you back.

Woodlass:

You are correct the UFT/DOE process which I discussed in my April 16th post puts the arbitrator in a position to find a teacher guilty and give the DOE a monetary award, usually a $5,000 to $10,000 fine.

However, I'm not sure your district rep has the story straight. Under the DOE/UFT 3020-a process, there is no three arbitrator panel, only one. The exception might be that the city license was terminated under the above mentioned process and the teacher tried to keep the State license under the State 3020-a regulations.

Is this the same district rep who gave you the information that the removed teacher stays on the school's payroll?

Anonymous said...

Chaz:

I believe that arbitrators do not put letters in a teacher's file.

I believe that what they do is provide a ruling which says that the charges have not been proven, and a warning letter is, or would have been, a sufficient response by the administration.

Chaz said...

Anon:

I disagree with you. The arbitrator can require that the award (why they call it that is beyond me) is a Letter-To-The-File. I happen to know somebody who was banished to the rubber room for 26 months and was given a LIF as the punishment. The teacher was not allowed back to the school and did not get his per session pay.

Woodlass said...

Chaz: to answer your question: different Dist Rep, same conference.

ed notes online said...

I heard about arbitrators recommending letter in file.

On the principal sending people to RR for economic advantage.

A delegate challenged the unionleadership on this at last week's DA pointing to the unpublicized fact that they only stay on the school payroll for 60 days. Michael Mendel at first said "Oh, I thought it was 90" and then obfuscated and tried to turn it into a different question.

Why the UFT wouldn't want to publicize this widely is beyond me since it helps make the case for senior teachers being railroaded for salary, not competency.

I can only think that it further shows just how weak and ineffective they are. Where did this 60 day rule come from? Is it in the contract? And if so why? If not in the contract, who decided that they come off the payroll? My 2 cents is that the UFT really supports this idea because many of the leadeship believe most people in the RR are really guilty. I call this collaboration.

Oh, as for the imaginary teacher, the assylums are full of people claiming to be Napolean. Who would of thunk there's someone imagining he's a teacher? There's also a full moon around, so expect these people to howl.

Chaz said...

Norm:

I think that the reason the UFT didn't publish this change of 60 days on the school's payroll was that they were embarrassed on how Tweed outwitted them.

This is another case of our union leadership falling down on the job of protecting the senior teachers.

I believe it is union incompetence rather than collaboration with the DOE.

As for the phony teacher, it is best to ignore his idiotic comments and delete them.

Socrates said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I am waiting for someone to bring up the legality of hiring and supporting the green card applications of foreign nationals. The law clearly requires that they have exceptional qualifications and that the job is one that cannot be filled by any American worker. I have known people who went through the process and the letters of recommendation required were praising them as the next Einstein or Gates. With the large number of foreign teacher fairs, there are grounds for a huge and very ugly legal battle.

Chaz said...

Anon:

I agree, however the DOE gets around this by claiming there are shortages of math, science, and special education teachers. Hence, the intergalatic job fair.

ed notes online said...

Chaz
I never look at the Unity crowd as incompetent but rather as inattentive to the things that may be important to us but not to them. The things they care about they do very well - like schemes to attack members of the opposition in their schools and especially to undermine chapter leaders who are opposed to Unity. I mean out an out attacks using the district reps to do it. This is where they put their attention so they don't have the interest to address the RR situation.
Furthermore, they used to come down on the side of the DOE, assuming guilt. I know because I brought a lot of people to them and I could see it in their eyes - they wanted some assurance they were not leaping in to defend someone who might be guilty - their job by the way.

Chaz said...

norm:

I agree with you in the most part. I AGREE WITH YOU THAT THE UNION BELIEVES THE "RUBBER ROOM" TEACHERS ARE GUILTY AND WHILE A FEW MAY BE THERE FOR FALSE ACCUSATIONS, THE REST DID SOMETHING TO BE THERE. I believe the UFT position is slowly changing because of the abuse by the DOE, it hasen't change enough.

I totally agree with you that the UFT can do something when they want to. However, in this case they don't want to.

Floraine Kay said...

1) This never had anything to do with the arbitrators. Klein mandated that everyone goes back as an ATR from the Rubber Room.

2) What about all those teachers who are becoming ATR's because their schools are closing, not because they were charged with anything -- they were "targeted" unofficially by Bloomberg and Klein. These larger schools had senior faculty with higher salaries. In this way, they got excessed a lot of people with top salaries. And I still maintain that Bloomberg knew he would do this when he agreed to give us raises -- he knew he'd get the money back, somehow. Tons of teachers at Lafayette, Tilden, South Shore, Brooklyn Comprehensive Night (where? My school. We close, too this June. Almost all the faculty has over fifteen years.) -- these schools have tons of teachers who would normally have been placed through the seniority transfer system but now are getting nowhere. We have math and science teachers with experience not finding work, let alone English teachers, etc. My colleagues have phenomenal abilities and records. I've gotten into scrapes with the current administration due to my inability to read writing on walls, but have an otherwise strong file myself. None of us are getting anywhere. I expected problems, but, as I said, my colleagues should be welcomed in, especially to some of these newer schools where they would be strong leaders and mentors as well as teachers. Most of my school is in its early 40's and 50's, an energetic, charismatic and funny group who have worked with difficult students and loved it.
But, people actually refer to us as being at "our stage in our career" in interviews -- by which they mean, we won't be flexible and we won't work hard. We've been nothing but all through our careers and we all want nothing more than to keep giving.

Oh, and meanwhile, a friend and former colleague, now an ATR works 12 hour days covering classes, detention, mentoring teachers, coming in Saturdays, Sundays -- extra time free--writing documents, anything he's asked to do, no promise of a full-time job or even of returning in his current position. That's the breaks.