Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Tale Of Two Teachers Who Went To A Hiring Hall And Why The ATR Crises Is Just Getting Worse For Senior Teachers.

Two teachers wrote about their experiences at a DOE "job fair" and the very different results they ended up with shows why the DOE has no intention of solving the ATR crises.

The first teacher is Marc Epstein, a senior teacher with twenty years of teaching experience and who has been considered a "master teacher" and mentor for many new teachers in his old school. If Marc's name seems familiar, it is because his articles have been published in various newspapers, including the prestigious Washington Post, has appeared on the O'Reily Factor, and is a Huffington Post blogger. Marc and I taught in the same school for ten years and he has taught every social studies course offered by the school including Advanced Placement courses in History and Government. He is the "gold standard" when teaching to students and preparing them for college.

When Marc was excessed from Jamaica High School he applied to many vacancies on the "Open Market System" and received not one interview. He then went to an August "job fair" and found few vacancies for Social Studies teachers and of course, no interviews. Marc Epstein's own words can be found on the NYC ATR blog.

By contrast, I present you with four year Social Studies teacher Collin Lawrence who taught Global Studies and wrote some very insightful and entertaining articles in the Gotham Schools Community Section about his struggles at the Brooklyn Arts Academy. He decided to leave teaching after the DOE refused his request to take a one year leave of absence and this made it more difficult, in theory, to apply for a position since he would be considered an outside teacher and there is (or was?) a job freeze for Social Studies teachers. He also went to a "job fair" in August and had eight interviews and two job offers. He chose a school in Manhattan. What hiring freeze?

Why can't an extraordinary teacher like Marc Epstein not even get an interview while an up and coming great teacher (maybe) Collin Lawrence gets interviews galore and can pick between job offers despite resigning from the DOE a year earlier? Unfortunately, the answer is very simple, it is about money and age for principals who are hiring not what is best for the students in their schools. You see Marc Epstein makes $90,000 dollars annually and is in his 50s while Collin Lawrence is around 30 and makes $50,000 annually. Get the message?

The DOE has encouraged principals to hire based upon their budget and will even penalize them financially for hiring the Marc Epsteins of the world. Moreover, the DOE now appears to be looking the other way when principals hire teachers in subject areas that have a job freeze, like the Manhattan Principal that hired Collin Lawrence. The DOE seems not to take the apparent violation of the hiring freeze as something they are doing anything about at least at present since there is no pressure from our union to explain it. More disturbingly, is the union's silence about d the DOE's demonetization of senior teachers (more about our union's silence in my next post).

Finally, I don't want my readers to think I am criticizing Collin Lawrence. I do believe, given time (another 3-4 years), Collin Lawrence will be a "quality teacher" and someday may even be the "master teacher" that every one of us aspire to be and that Marc Epstein is.


Pissed Off said...

Money is a big factor but don't discount obedience. The new ones will jump through every hoop, no matter how high, to make points with admins.

Rod said...

The job fair yesterday....mandatory for all ATRs in the Bx and Man.....1,000 or so Teachers in attendance and 30-40 schools? Another 30 were no-shows. Perhaps three vacancies at each, one in ten may get a position. Eliminate those at the higher salaries. I'm taking up Stoicism.

Anonymous said...


My issue is what you are saying is that you believe this is age discrimination, and this simply isn’t the case. This is salary discrimination and the principals have no choice but to act in this fashion.

If you were a principle and you only had $60K of your budget remaining to hire a teacher, you aren't in a position to hire a $90K teacher. If the Union allowed the “Master Teacher” to take a salary of $50K I am sure he would be hired immediately.

If you were a principle and you had $270K of your budget remaining to hire teachers, do you fire 5 teachers at $50K each or 3 teachers at $90K each? I know which I would choose.

The principals are not trying to screw the more experienced ATRs but their budgets have given them no choice but to hire lower salary teachers.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:20

You are right. However, what I believe chaz is saying is that the DOE is not actually practicing what they preach, which is children first.

I think what chaz is illistrating is that unless the DOE and union offer some financial incentives when hiring the ATRs, principals will be unable and unwilling to hire the best teachers for their schools.

Anonymous said...

There is age discrimination. First it was the "rubber room" teachers who were mostly in their 50s. Now it is the senior ATRs who are not offered interviews or jobs. Yes, it is about the money but it is also about ageism. To pretend otherwise is just dishonest.

Chaz said...

The issue of age and salary go hand to hand in this case since senior teachers make the most money. To state it is simply a financial issue is incorrect. Even when the DOE gave principals an incentive to hire ATRs, few did. As Pissed Off pointed out it is also about control and senior teachers usually know their rights.

Anonymous said...

Senior teachers are also usually the teachers creating issues and stirring things up.

If I were a principal I would hire the junior teacher who just stay quite and do their job.