Here we are approaching Thanksgiving and principals still fail to fill the many vacancies, hidden or advertised, that are available in the New York City Public School System. How does the failure to fill vacancies, hidden or not, help the children? It doesn't of course. In my travels I have found a minimum of eight vacancies in the schools I was assigned to. Of course, the union's position is "did I report them to the District Rep"? The answer is I did in my third school and nothing came of it. As for the other schools, I made sure that Chapter Leaders did report it to the District Rep. What has come from that? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! As one Chapter Leader told me "what is the use of reporting school vacancies when the union is doing nothing with it"?
With much fanfare the DOE and UFT came up with an "ATR Agreement" that would require principals to hire ATRs for their vacancies. Yeah, right, and I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you if you really believe this. Instead of hiring ATRs for their vacancies, the principals simply ignore the "ATR Agreement". Let's look at the many examples of what high school principals do as to not to hire an ATR.
- Flushing High School Principal hires a day-to-day substitute who is not certified in Earth Science to teach five Regents classes.
- August Martin High school fails to hire a Social Studies Teacher for their vacancy.
- Fredrick Douglas Academy VI in Far Rockaway does not hire an English teacher.
- Metropolitan High School ignores student complaints about not hiring a Chemistry teacher and apparently uses a Special Education teacher to teach Physics.
- Apparently the Principal at Queens High School of Teaching tries to hire a "newbie" Earth Science teacher by using Crag's list.
I am sure there are many more egregious examples of principals refusing to follow the "ATR Agreement" and not hire an ATR but these are the ones either I personally knew about or read it from blogs and news media. For example, I heard from another ATR that claimed an elementary school Principal had bragged how she has a Special Education ATR cover a class for the year without the school being required to pay for the ATR. Another ATR told me of a middle school Principal who refused to hire a Math ATR and has a day-to-day sub covering the Math position. I am sure there are numerous stories of the "ATR Agreement" and nothing appears to be done about it.
The reality is that the "ATR Agreement" is another case of the union negotiating with the DOE an unenforceable and violated agreement that the union fails to ensure the DOE abides by. How easy it would be for the union leadership to bring up the numerous violations of the agreement to the mass media and embarrass the DOE in requiring principals to follow the "ATR Agreement" or suffer the consequences that the DOE can enforce. Furthermore, the union can easily show that the principals failure to abide by the "ATR Agreement" is hurting the children and contrary to the DOE's "children first" policy. Instead the union appears to be silent on the issue. Why? I previously wrote about the lack of action and information about what is happening in the DOE/UFT Joint Oversight Committee meetings. Why the secrecy and the lack of transparency?
I can only assume that both the DOE and UFT wish that the ATR situation would just disappear but they can't since both the DOE and UFT created the ATR crisis in the first palace. Therefore, both the DOE and UFT treat the ATRs as second class citizens. Sure, they both claim that they want the ATRs to have their own classrooms but "actions speak louder than words". The actions are the ridiculous DOE algorithm that randomly sends ATRs weekly to different schools in the District and the failure to hold principals "accountable" for their willful failure to abide by the "ATR Agreement". The only way the ATR issue disappears is if the DOE requires Principals to hire ATRS and hold firm on the City "job freeze", no other solution is possible without negotiating a new contract which is not going to happen until Mayor Bloomberg and Dennis Walcott are replaced in 2014.