Wednesday, November 20, 2013
How The Union And The New Mayor Can Solve The ATR Crisis.
It's no secret that the educational legacy of Michael Bloomberg is a failure. His tenure is marked with ever rising class sizes, closing schools, a shrinking school budget, low teacher morale, and an obscene funding formula that penalizes schools who dare to hire a highly experienced teacher. All this and there still has been little or no student academic achievement, a widening racial/income academic achievement gap, and abysmal "college and career readiness" scores.
Besides all the Mayor's failures, the one that stands out the most is the wasting of $160 million dollars annually on excessed educators including teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, secretaries, and Assistant Principals by rotating them from school to school. Presently, there are over 2,000 ATRs/ACRs rotating in their school Districts and over 1,000 more temporarily covering long-term leave positions and signing "provisional contracts" that will not be renewed at the end of the school year due to the money issue. This is known as the ATR crisis.
The ATR pool is populated by highly experienced teachers with over 90% being over 40 years of age and at least 10 years of experience. Among them are some very "highly qualified teachers" who have either been excessed from their closed schools. or were reassigned by vindictive principals who claimed the teachers were either incompetent or committed misconduct but the independent 3020-a Arbitrator ruled differently and found only minor infractions and sent them back as an educator. The DOE then retaliated by making them an ATR as its more important for Tweed to maintain their ideology than what's best for the students. Once Bill de Blasio becomes Mayor and selects a new Chancellor, the union should negotiate with the Administration to end the ATR pool and the cisis. Listed below are my ideas.
First, Impose a hiring freeze in school districts that have excessed teachers in the subject area where the vacancy is. There should be "NO EXCEPTIONS"!
Second, Provide incentives to principals tro hire ATRs similar to the November 2008 incentives that allowed schools to pick up highly experienced ATRs for "newbie" prices.
Third, Have the DOE penalize principals who try to hide their vacancies by removing from the school's budget funding for the hidden vacancy. This will encourage principals "to do the right thing". This was tried previously in 2010, but the DOE failed to enforce it and the union looked the other way rather than taking any action.
Fourth, Eliminate the illegal, discriminatory, and immoral "fair student funding formula" that is the primary cause of the ATR crisis. Have the educator budget revert back to a separate budget and the teachers be treated as a unit regardless of the salary. This will go a long way in giving students "highly qualified teachers" that they need and deserve.
Fifth, to mitigate "forced placements" keep the "provisional assignments" and it only becomes permanent when borh the Principal and the educator agree that ir's a good fit at the end of the school year.
Finally, eliminate the illegal and unfair "red flags" on teacher files when the independent Arbitrator ruled against OSI and SCI substantiation of charges not found to have been true in the 3020-a hearings.
I must point out that in the unlikely event that the City refuses to deal with the ATR crisis, the union should insist that the New York State Civil Service law be reimposed as part of the next contract with "bumping" that goes with it.
Realistically, by putting the ATRs back in the classroom, the City will save money, experience reduced class sizes, have more "highly qualified teachers instructing students, and getting rid of the Bloomberg legacy of hiring the "cheapest" rather than the "best" teachers for the classroom. Now that's really "children first"!