While I am no fan of the budget meltdown that has affected the world and New York City, it has finally caused the DOE to stop attacking teacher rights, at least temporarily. First, there was the July 2, 2008 flawed agreement that allowed some reassigned teachers to pay exorbitant fines of $5,000 to $25,000 dollars not to go through a 3020-a hearing. Then there was the ATR agreement that allows Principals to hire some ATRs at little cost to teach in a classroom. These negotiations were not due to our union fighting for teacher rights but it was due to the $145 million dollars the DOE was shelling out annually for non-classroom teachers. The DOE could no longer justify the outrageous cost in a budget crises.
While Tweed is in retreat the union should demand the following actions.
- A truly independent investigation of administrators and Chapter Leaders. No longer should either group be investigated by the DOE supported Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and the Special Commissioner of Investigations (SCI) who presume administrators innocent and teachers guilty. Further, this same independent group should be used to determine if a teacher should be removed from a school.
- Reestablishment of teacher input into the SBO decision-making process. This should also include the SBLT group as well. Currently, the Principal makes the decision and doesn't need approval from the group
- Bring back the grievance for Letters-To-The-File (LIF). This will stop Principals from arbitrarily dumping LIFs in teacher's files as is happening with increasing frequency.
- Limit SCI investigations to those teachers subject to felony arrest. Not the witch hunts that are going on presently.
- Let teachers teach as they see fit in the classroom. The bottom line is that only the teachers know what is best for their students.
If the DOE needs to practice "education on the cheap" the least the union can do is to improve teacher morale, respect, and protect their rights.