Friday, February 14, 2014
Why Hasn't The Union Responded To The Media's Demonization Of The ATRs?
Over the last month the three daily newspapers in New York City have published articles and/or editorials that have demonized the ATRs while our union failed to respond to any of these inaccurate, and politically motivated attacks on their members. The articles have a recurring theme that ATRs are "bad teachers", undesirables" and refuse to apply for the many vacancies posted by the "Open Market Transfer System". In all cases they are demanding a "time limit" between six months to a year and if the ATR cannot get a position then they should be terminated. This ideological attack on the ATRs are all the same. In every case these articles and editorials ignore the reasons that there are over 2,000 ATRs in the first place and that is the "fair student funding formula" and the DOE policy for schools to fund the teacher salaries out of their tight budget. The result, as every real educator knows, is that the principals of the New York City public schools must hire the "cheapest teachers" and not the "best teachers" for their students.
What is most disappointing is the lack of response by the UFT leadership to these ideologically driven vicious attacks on the ATRs. Why is our union leadership remaining silent to these inaccurate and malicious attacks on the ATRs? I wish I knew the answer.
UFT President, Michael Mulgrew, has always supported the ATRs and in internal discussions he has said many times that the union will not agree to a "time limit" but wants the ATRs put back into the classroom where they belong and are needed. In fact, many union leaders have stated that if the union was willing to give up the ATRs by agreeing to a "time limit", the Bloomberg Administration would be willing to give the UFT their two 4% raises (not sure if it included retroactive raises) owed to the members for the 2009 and 2010 time periods. However, publicly. he has remained silent on the vicious media attacks on the ATRs.
You would think the UFT would respond to these unfair attacks since they were complicit to the formation of the ATR pool in the first place by approving it in that terrible 2005 contract. To compound their error on the ATR issue they approved the useless and demoralizing ATR rotation system that is a waste of talent, money, and does not help students to improve academically. You do not see the police or fire unions agree to an ATR like program? When a police precinct or firehouse closes, the policemen and firemen are assigned to vacancies in the closest loation to the closed buildings. The reality is that no other union would ever allow such a program after seeing how ATRs are being treated by the press and the City. In fact, I'm sure that if the union allowed the City to impose an ATR "time limit" the other unions would sue as a violation of Civil Service law.
In a related matter, the union must put a stop to these unfair and unjust field supervisor observations. Many of these field supervisors are using unattainable standards to rate the ATRs and that's just not right. How do you properly rate an ATR in a strange school with unfamiliar students, and with no training in the classroom technology or Common Core standards they seem to look for? Many of the field supervisors are unfairly evaluating the ATRs as if they have ownership of the class (controlling their grade) and understand the academic ability of the students. Moreover, quite a few field supervisors are demanding lessons that show rigorous techniques that smack of Common Core and to them Regents type questions are not rigorous enough. How unfair is that?
Many of the ATRs are being held to unattainable standards claiming that Regents based questioning and labs (science) are not rigorous enough. The union must put a stop to this harassment and if necessary file a lawsuit, what are we paying our dues for?
I can only conclude this post by saying that Albert Shanker must be rolling in his grave to see how passive his union has become when it comes to protecting its member, especially the ATRs.