Wednesday, October 16, 2013
An ATR Open Letter To The DOE, Principals, And The UFT.
Dear fellow educators of the New York City School System I write this letter to tell you about my fellow ATRs you seem so determined to demonize, ignore, and refuse to hire, We are experienced teachers that have a "passion for teaching" and "wanting to make a difference" by motivating our students to succeed in life. However, we find ourselves displaced as teachers traveling from week to week to different schools and find our considerable talents wasted as "babysitters". We come from closed and downsized schools or were accused of actions that were found to be false and as punishment we were excessed out of the classroom and sent to the ever growing ATR pool.
To the principals: You should be falling over each other to hire ATRs, we are experienced, have good classroom management skills, and deep curriculum knowledge. You claim you want the "best teachers", instead you hire untested "newbies" or inexpensive and usually not tenured teachers. Instead of maximizing your students' academic potential they are simply "guinea pigs" for teachers that have not mastered the teaching skills and are subject to a steep learning curve themselves. I ask you, would you have your child operated on by an inexperienced or new surgeon or an experienced surgeon with a good track record?
Yes, I know its primarily about the salary (age and seniority issues are also a factor) and that the misguided "fair student funding" formula makes it difficult to hire "quality teachers" but I need to remind you that your schools "student growth" scores will affect your own job performance numbers. Its in both you and your students best interest to hire the "best teachers" available and not the cheapest if you want to keep your Principal's position.
To The Department Of Education: Stop with the slogan "children first....Always". Your actions speak for themselves. You have cut school budgets by 14% since 2007 and your "fair student funding": formula makes it difficult for principals to hire the "best teachers". If you really want to help the students then have a separate budget line for teachers and make them a "unit". Principals will be happy to hire ATRs knowing they are experienced and will improve student outcomes in the school. In fact give the principals an incentive like the one in 2009 where the principals are paying the salary of a new teacher with the DOE picking up the rest.
It makes no educational sense to have over 2,000 ATRs and pay $160 million dollars while class sizes are the highest in a decade. Finally, is it more important to maintain a faulty ideology and force schools to hire untested and teachers from alternate certification programs like the two year Teach For America wonders or the "one and done" Teaching Fellows than retaining and appreciating the experienced teachers necessary for the best student academic achievement?
To The United Federation Of Teachers: Be pro-active. Make sure students are being taught by teachers certified in that subject area. Stop putting your head in the sand and pretend its not happening, we all know it is and having teachers teaching a subject they are not certified to teach only hurts the students. Moreover, put the DOE's feet to the fire and threaten an age discrimination lawsuit. Yes, Amy, there really is age discrimination even if you can't see it. How about spending our COPE funds on an effective commercial that show the DOE's policy of recruitment over retention restricts schools from having the "quality teachers" our students need. The union really needs to expose the DOE's "children first" policy as a fraud.
All three groups need to do the "right thing" and maximize the potential for student academic growth by putting the ATRs back in the classroom where they belong. Its about what's best for the children. Right? Right!