Friday, April 11, 2014

The Reason Why ATRs Should Be Put Back Into The Classroom. It Helps Student Academic Achievement.

The Wall Street Journal's education reporter, Leslie Brody wants to talk to ATRs about their situation and what should be done to the ATR pool.  She contacted Norm Scott and told him that the she wants to "untangle the weeds of the ATR pool and see it's very complicated".  Ms. Brody claims she will write a fair and accurate article.  Personally, since she works for the Wall Street Journal, and like all the City newspapers who continually call us "bad or unwanted teachers", I highly doubt it and even if she tried to be fair, I'm sure her editor will make sure the ATRs are cast in a negative light.  However, while I will not speak to her, my blog represents my view of the ATR pool and what should happen next year. Here is my letter to Leslie Brody.

Dear Ms. Brody:

The ATR pool consists of over 2,000 (not 1,000 the DOE or 960 the UFT claims) ATRs.  Included in this group are teachers, guidance counselors social workers, assistant principals, and school secretaries.  The DOE and UFT, to avoid embarrassment, do not include ATRs who are temporarily in schools as "leave replacements" and "provisional appointees" and who will be back into the ATR pool at year's end.  The ATR pool is composed of mostly senior educators with the average age in their 50's and fifteen or more years of experience.  These educators came from closing schools or schools that needed to reduce staff, and educators targeted by principals that survived their termination hearings.

The ATR pool was formed when the DOE and UFT agreed in the infamous 2005 contract that no excessed teacher need to be placed in a school in their district and that Principals can hire outside of the school system regardless of how many excessed teachers in the subject area were in the district.  To ensure that highly experienced teachers would not be appointed, the DOE imposed the "fair student funding formula" on the schools and forced principals to include teacher salaries in their budget.  The result was that principals had an incentive to hire the "cheapest" and not the "best teachers" for their school since it would save money in their increasingly tight budget.  To make matters worse the UFT unwisely proposed the weekly rotation where ATRs are sent weekly to different schools and the DOE eagerly agreed to it for the 2011-12 school year going forward.  The weekly rotation has proven to be a disaster, its dehumanizing, non-professional, and wastes talent and money which costs the DOE $160 million annually for "glorified babysitters".  How depressing it is to be a "stranger in a strange land" in a different school every week.  I personally put in over 20 requests for vacant positions through the Open Market Transfer System in the last three years and received not one interview!

Many in the ATR pool are "quality teachers" and are long-term teaching professionals, we are the teachers that Mayor Bill de Blasio should want to retain since we are not likely to leave for greener pastures as less experienced teachers do.  Furthermore, by placing the ATRs back in the classroom where we belong, the City achieves their goal of reducing class sizes without additional cost since we're being paid anyway.  Finally, we bring with us deep curriculum knowledge,  classroom management skills, and most importantly a passion for teaching and connecting with the children to see them achieve their academic goals.

Unfortunately, that will not happen until Chancellor Carmen Farina ends the destructive "fair student funding", freeze outside hiring, and once again make educator salaries as a unit and come from DOE Central as it was done for decades.  It wouldn't be a bad idea to give principals an incentive to hire us as they did once before. ATRs should be back in the classroom if the City really wants to put "children first" and see real academic improvements for the public school students.

Ms Brody, while I only speak for myself, I suspect I speak for the majority of ATRs who just want a chance to be back in a classroom with our own students and help them reach their academic potential.

Note:  There is a deliberate misconception that the DOE picks up part of the ATR salary if a school selects an ATR to fill a leave replacement or vacancy.  The DOE only picks up the difference in salary between the ATR and the salary of the teacher the ATR is replacing for the first year only!   If the school decides to pick up the ATR for the second year the ATR's salary must be included in the average teacher salary of the school and comes out of the school's budget.  Therefore, very few, if any, ATRs are picked up the second year since it will cost the school money.


Anonymous said...

Good job Lets see what the DOE and our union come up with Its time for a decision to be made regarding ATRs

Anonymous said...

Worse is that many schools are getting around these rules by hiring "community associates" at half the price of a real guidance counselor. And the schools are falling apart but it takes a few years before the rot sets in, by then the damage to the school & kids is done. Everyone is screwed except the principal or lands a job at Tweed or with these BS networks.

Anonymous said...

Chaz, don't sweat it, the education reporter will not use your response in her article since they cannot twist it.

The post is clear, concise, and lays out the issues. If the reporter really wants to write a fair article on the atrs, she should use your post.

Anonymous said...

At a UFT chapter meeting yesterday the chapter leader announced there's already an agreement that ATRs will be placed in a school for 1 year as of September. I do believe he was told this and not making it up.

Chaz said...

Anon 9:18

Not true, they are still negotiating and no final status has been agreed upon.

Your Chapter Leader is misinformed and it's just wishful thinking at this point.

Anonymous said...

Great letter. I'm sure she will not be contacting you since you make too much sense.

Yes, and most of us agree with you about the ATR mess and what needs to be done about it. How about a buyout for the ones who don't want to teach in this system anymore?

ATRdisgusted said...

Our union has failed us on so many levels. I learned some interesting information this week. There were special reps at the school I am at this week. I was told that the last contract was negotiated without ever reading the fine print. The rank and file as it was put to me was just happy to see a raise. They never bothered to read the fine print which stated that ATRS would be terminated after being in excess for two years. Then someone decided to read the fine print and they noticed the termination clause. It was determined that ATRS could not be terminated due to tenure. A teacher with tenure could not be terminated. The next thing they sold us up the river on was the rotation. It was the unions opinion that the rotation was a better deal. I said for who and I was told I don't know. I was also told that no one knows what the negotiations are...except our President and he isn't talking.

Anonymous said...

Or offer three choices like dc

Chaz said...

Anon 2:04

The Wash DC options have an ATR time limit and is not an option. Furthermore, teacher tenure in NYS is different then in Wash DC and a time limit violates State law.

Anon 1:56

There never was an ATR time limit, even in the fine print. The SR is lying!!!!

It was Michael Mendel that proposed the ridiculous weekly rotation that the DOE accepted. He was so proud of what he did he refused to acknowledge he was the author of this travesty.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chaz,
I'm not sure that chapter leader was misinformed. What real say do we have in those negotiations? Perhaps we are being given illusion of a say via the advisory committee. Amy Arundel wasn't even at the last one and one guy spent a half hour tooting his own horn.

Chaz said...

Anon 5:54

Then the Chapter Leader got it wrong. True, what you said about the ATR advisory committee is true but its the only game in town.

Anonymous said...

Smart thing to do is just create schools and place all the ATR!s in each. Schools with entire staffs of ATR's. Ha! How bout that?

Anonymous said...

It would be a disaster to place all ATRs in a single school to show the city that we are good teachers. Why? The DOE/UFT would fill them up with every problem child in the city....and the press would say the ATRs are not good teachers.

Don't fall for's a set-up!

Anonymous said...

Just read your letter to the education reporter. Great response, let's see if she uses any of the information in her article.

Anonymous said...

The Board proposed the time limit in 2011. The UFT had to go along to avoid layoffs. You can blame UFT leaders for many things, but this was a management idea.

Chaz said...


The Bloomberg layoff threat was a bluff, he even admitted it. Stop which your revisionist history. Our union leaders blinked and screwed the excessed teachers for a measly $5 million dollar savings.