Thursday, August 18, 2011

The ATR Crisis Gets Worse As Principals Refuse Or Can't Hire Experienced Teachers As Class Sizes Rise Significantly.


There are rumors that the amount of teachers in excess or as known as the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) will exceed the 2,000 mark as many schools are shedding teachers and class sizes are rising dramatically due to the Tweed imposed budget cuts. It seems the only teachers that are being hired are the "newbies" that some struggling and new schools have been given permission to hire since the DOE relaxed their hiring restrictions. Shockingly, many of the "newbies" are from the alternate certification programs the Teach for America's two year wonders and Teaching Fellows. Here. Most school principals have had to deal with an average budget reduction of 13.7% since 2007 and increasingly has excessed teachers and increased class sizes. In one large high school there were double digit retirements in the last year and the Principal was unable to hire any replacements due to the budget cuts.

By contrast, the DOE has seen a 8% increase in their total budget for bureaucrats with an astounding $20 million dollar increase for those non-educators at Tweed. Furthermore, Tweed plays "creative math" when it comes to allocating funds between the schools and their bureaucracy. Tweed pockets increases in funding and falsely claim they are reducing headcount. I won't even go into the obnoxious increases in consultant services and technology at Tweed.

But let's get back to the ATR crises and what needs to happen if we really care about what is best for the children. Many principals cannot or won't hire ATRs because of their budget problems. Therefore, the next best thing would be to place ATRs in unfilled vacancies and reduce the class size problem. Many of the ATRs are experienced and great teachers who would be a tremendous asset to many a school. However, this is only a temporary solution to a Tweed created problem. The real problem is to eliminate the "fair student funding" fiasco that reduces school funding by up to 20%. (interestingly, charter schools are exempt from the fair student formula so as to maximize their funding) and the reallocation of money from the bureaucracy and consultants to schools. However, as long as the unpopular Mayor Bloomberg and his pet poodle, Chancellor Dennis Walcott are in charge, don't look for that to change anytime soon.
It is time for the union to fight hard to reduce class sizes and make sure an experienced teacher is in front of the classroom. Presently, the union has quietly allowed the DOE to do as they please as long as the "ATR is getting paid". Good teachers want to teach and not be a glorified babysitter. The union must do what is best for the children and that is having low class sizes and an experienced teacher not all lowing the DOE to use or abuse ATRs, all 2,000+ of them.


15 comments:

PDS8232 said...

Chaz...

CRISIS?

Anonymous said...

It is not just ATRs or BOE, it is all over the workplaces that many senior workers are shun. We are in a new era and completely unfamiliar territory.

Chaz said...

PDS8232:

To me it is? We are wasting 160 million dollars when it should go to the classroom.

Anonymous said...

Great survey, I love your article.

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Anonymous said...

If the DOE told principals that they would add the salary of any ATR hired automatically to their budget, in this fiscal environment, principals would suddently find hiring an ATR attractive and all the "problems" with ATR candidates would disappear. The DOE could do this for a specified time period and since they are already paying the ATRs it wouldn't affect the overall budget. For instance, all those who appealed their budgets, could be given this opportunity. The ATR problem is the DOE's creation and will continue to be until they decide to stop wasting taxpayer money for the sake of political motivations.

PDS8232 said...

I agree with your politics. It's the spelling I was questioning.

Chaz said...

oops.

bookworm said...

I spoke to the union about how veterans are being blatantly passed over for cheap, uncertified newbies to the point where the principals aren't even TRYING to cover it up. The rep I spoke to said, "Yeah, they don't want you. They only want people they recruit themselves from their own programs. Everyone else is screwed."

And WHAT do they propose to DO about this? Not much, apparently.

betruetothyself said...

i think we should make a flyer, postcards and do a media campaign with these stats and information. the general public is so uniformed about what is happening. the blogs and other internet information is great, but how do we get it out to the general public? this is why we are getting so little support, the public does not know what is going on in bloomberg teacher land

Anonymous said...

The general public does not know because it does not care. Yes, the ATR crisis gets worse, tell me which crisis is getting better. No one will come to rescue, you, yourself alone, will have to deal with it.

betruetothyself said...

the general public does not care about a lot of issues that are stuffed down their throats by the media. what makes u think people don't care about an issue that they have insufficient facts about? marketing. that is why promotion, lobbying and marketing is so critical to any campaign. do your research.

Anonymous said...

To betruetothyself;

What is worse than the general
public's attitude of not caring
to know is the attitude of not wanting to know, or a step further, the general public wants to find a scapegoat, any scapegoat, for it own much bigger problems.

If you think somehow the spread of the truth will turn them around, you ain't seen nothing yet, there are times that the falsehood is much more believable and potent than the truth.

Anonymous said...

Michael Mulgrew does not teach. All he cares about is union dues. It is time to have our union leadership teach. Two classes a day is what I say.

bookworm said...

That may be a good idea. When I taught in the 'burbs, the president of our union was a full time teacher, who happened to be in the building in which I worked. The other officers taught almost full class loads - I think they only got 1 or 2 periods off (if that) for union business. It definitely made them more accessible to teachers and more aware of how specific situations were affecting the teachers, students, and school environments. Having union officers teach, even part time, may very well be a good idea.

bookworm said...

Meant to add that they can start as ATRs and go to the "job fairs" trying to convince a principal to hire them. That will give them a nice healthy dose of what the rank-and-file are dealing with. And with the new agreement, they can get a broad and varied experience in many schools by working in a different place every week and still being held "accountable"!