Sunday, March 27, 2016
The Story On Why The Unity Caucus Is The Blame For The ATR Crisis.
Let's get something straight, the ATR crisis that started a decade ago is the creation of the DOE but it would not have been possible without the approval of the Unity leadership running the UFT. This post will explain the story about how the ATR crisis evolved and how our disconnected union leadership was complicit in its creation.
Chapter 1 - The creation of the ATR crisis:
There were always ATRs as schools needed less teachers or downsized programs. However, by contract, these excessed teachers were given a list of vacancies in their District and could select the vacancy by seniority order. However, UFT President Randi Weingarten agreed to a "giveback-laden" contract in 2005 that eliminated the provision that allowed excess teachers to have first choice on any vacancy in their District. Instead, principals were now allowed to hire whom they pleased and many principals decided to hire newbie teachers rather than excessed teachers for their vacancies. The result was for the first time, there was a pool of excesses teachers.
Chapter 2 - Fair Student Funding:
In 2005 Chancellor Joel Klein proposed an entirely different way to fund the schools that were being used by other Districts in the nation called "fair student funding" (fsf). However, unlike the other Districts that use the fsf for the average teacher salary District wide, the city version is based only on the school. The result is that schools are encouraged to hire the "cheapest and not the best teachers" for their students. When fsf was first proposed, the DOE was expecting the union to oppose it and had little chance to put the fsf in place but shockingly the union did not object and the result was an explosion of the ATR crises.
Chapter 3 - Win your case lose your appointment:
Sometime after the 2006 school year the DOE decided that teachers who won their 3020-a termination case or took settlements lost their appointed position and were sent to the ATR pool. The union decided that this new DOE policy was not worthy of a PERB complaint despite many teachers who wanted their position back.
Chapter 4 - The ATR rotation:
In 2011 the union leadership in the form of Michael Mandel decided that rotating ATRs weekly was a great idea as it exposed ATRs to different principals and theoretically would result in "good fits" that would get them permanent positions. However, this was a "pipe dream" since fsf and the rise of the Leadership Academy Principal (20% of all principals) made hiring an ATR a difficult, if not impossible mission. The DOE has found the rotating ATRs a great benefit to their aim to demonize the ATR as it made ATRs "a stranger in a strange land" and encouraged the feeling of being unwanted and maybe get some of them to resign or retire in frustration.
Chapter 5 - The field supervisors:
In 2012 a pilot project in Brooklyn was expanded citywide the next school year to have ATRs be observed by field supervisors in classes that the ATR had no knowledge of and must prepare a lesson that had rigor, differentiation, and was inclusive, an impossible task. Despite hundreds of complaints the union supported the DOE and refused to help the ATRs. The result is that the first "U" rated ATRs are now in their 3020-a termination hearings based on field supervisor "flyby" observations.
Chapter 6 - Making ATRs second class citizens:
The 2014 contract made ATRs second class citizens as they were forced to go to mandatory interviews and could be terminated if they didn't show up to two of these interviews. Moreover, only ATRs are now subject to a one day 3020-a hearing due to the ill-defined "unprofessional conduct". Finally., if an ATR missis two consecutive days of a new assignment without "just cause" they are considered to have voluntarily resigned.
Chapter 7 - Unity opposes ATR Chapter:
In 2015 the ATRs lead by the opposition caucuses, asked for an ATR Chapter. However, the union leadership opposed it and even fought it at PERB, falsely claiming that ATRs were temporary when some veteran teachers have been ATRs for a decade.There's nothing temporary to those ATRs.
Chapter 8 - Making it easier to terminate ATRs:
In September of 2015 the union's lawyer, Adam Ross, signed off on a letter that allows the field supervisors to recommend 3020-a termination charges to Superintendents that now will give more weight to supervisor observations in which to terminate ATRs.
The book on ATRs has not been finished but unless the "Unity caucus" is defeated and removed from power, its very obvious that the final chapters will not have a happy ending for the ATRs.