Over the decade, the DOE has tried many different ways to reduce the ATR pool and has utterly failed as the total number of ATRs has remained relatively steady, despite the DOE's claim otherwise. The origin of the ATR pool was the terrible 2005 contract that allowed principals to hire whom they pleased and the Fair Student Funding that punished schools that hired veteran teachers.
First, the DOE, in the form of Chancellor Joel Klein, called the ATRs "unwanted" or "bad" teachers and the influx of "Leadership Academy Principals" with little or no New York City classroom experience believed him. Moreover, he bragged that in the next contract he will demand an ATR time limit of six to twelve months as they hurt student achievement. The result was few schools were willing to select an ATR to fill their vacancies.
Next, as Mayor Bloomberg continued to close schools, targeted by the DOE, due to the student demographics (poor and minority). The ATR pool grew from a few hundred in 2006 to 1,500 in 2009 as principals were encouraged to jettison veteran teachers and replace them with cheaper "newbies".
During the recession, the DOE came out with the only incentive that partly worked. During the 2009-10 school year. schools could pick up an ATR at a "newbie" salary, with the DOE paying the rest for the first eight years. However, this was the depth of the recession and most schools were prohibited from hiring outside the system (savvy principals managed to get exemptions). Therefore, schools had little choice but hire ATRs for their vacancies while getting a subsidy in the process.
The DOE abruptly changed course and Mayor Bloomberg tried to eliminate seniority rules in his failed "Last in, First out" gambit. The result was frozen contract talks, and a further demonization of the ATRs.
When Bill de Blasio became Mayor he finally negotiated a new contract in 2014 with an ATR incentive that was so inadequate that only 95 of the 1,315 ATRs took it and they were retiring anyway!
With the new Mayor a, a new incentive that allowed schools to hire ATRs for free the first year, half price the second year, and three quarters price the third year. According to the DOE 372 schools took advantage of this incentive. However, many of the schools took the incentive late in the year when they realized their hidden vacancies will be filled by ATRs the next school year and teachers were becoming scarce, especially in the Bronx.
That brings me to how to realty drain the ATR pool.
- Require all teachers be certified in the subject area taught.
- Eliminate the ":sixth period" that saves on teachers and hurts students.
- Reduce class sizes to State average.
- Fully fund school budgets
- Provide more electives for students.
- Penalize schools who hide vacancies.