Saturday, August 01, 2009

When A Hiring Freeze Is Not Really A Hiring Freeze - Tweed Allows Principals To Hire More "Newbie Teachers" As The ATR Ranks Continue To Increase

During the month of July, Tweed, despite Chancellor Joel Klein's e-mail message to the Principals, has loosened the hiring restrictions from a total hiring freeze (except for the new small schools) to allowing schools to hire Science and Special Education teachers. Eventually, I look for Joel Klein to also allow the hiring of Math teachers as the Open Market System ends next week. It was only in the late Spring when the Chancellor told the Principals that they must hire from the excessed teacher list, "no exceptions", However, I was told by some Principals that they were privately informed from top administrators that they should "sit tight" if they were unhappy with the hiring freeze since it was likely that Tweed would either rescind or loosen the hiring freeze by mid-August. I even wrote about this in a previous post. Would Chancellor Joel Klein lie about enforcing the hiring freeze for the 2009-10 school year? Apparently he did. Why else were principals told by their supervisors not to panic and wait out the hiring freeze?. It might have been wishful thinking on the part of the administrators. However, I believe that somebody knew something and it usually comes from the top, in this case Chancellor Joel Klein.

A little History is needed here. Joel Klein notified Principals of the hiring freeze on May 6th and this was reported by both Gotham News and the New York Times. However, given the lack of respect that Bloomberg and Klein have for excessed teachers and the vile propaganda from Tweed and their media puppets that convinced many a Principal not to consider an ATR for the vacancies. The result was the schools were not actively recruiting the ATRs. I also posted an article on how many of the Principals feel about the ATRs.

Now, after the budget cuts and the lack of hiring existing ATRs, there are now 2,340 excessed teachers without a classroom. This does not include the approximately 800 "rubber room" teachers where 90% will eventually find themselves as ATRs during this or the next school year. According to the DOE there are 2,400 teacher vacancies. However, many of these vacancies are in schools that have one or more of the following problems. High teacher turnover, lack of enforcement of student discipline codes, bad neighborhoods, no parking, or have "principals from hell" (the UFT call them PINI principals). Therefore, the ATRs are unwilling to place their health and safety with these schools. Look for the ATR ranks to go down but I suspect that by the beginning of the 2009-10 school year the ATR ranks to be close to 1500 as Principals are reluctant to hire them and the ATRs will opt not to go to schools that can jeopardize their teaching career.


Anonymous said...

What does "PINI" translate to?

Chaz said...


Principal in need of improvement.

17 (really 15) more years said...

Chaz- I see the possibility of something even more insidious in the works. Watch Bloomklein try to add something along the lines of "excessed teachers who have not found a permanent teaching position within 1 year and 1 day of their excessing will be terminated, removed from payroll.." etc. to the next contract. They will also attempt to make this retroactive, so that they can optimize the effect of this new clause. And watch our Union shout "victory" because they will agree to this for 4% over 2 years.

NYC Educator said...

That's been something they've had in mind for years. Their puppet organization, New Teacher Project, receives millions from Tweed, has its own teachers that compete with ATRs, and presented itself as an objective observer. It then put out a report that really gamed the statistics to suggest just that, and got widespread publicity in the tabloids.

So you gotta wonder whether Mulgrew will stand up to this or give it away to win another one-time $200 bonus. Would it actually place Unity at risk if they gave away something as crucial as this? Even if they lose the support of teachers, we're now less than half of the UFT, so why should they care?

Hopefully they'll refine their approach of making modest requests in response to Tweed's draconian demands. You gotta hope history teaches them something, at least.

Mr. Talk said...

If Klein really wanted to solve the ATR problem,he'd issue an ultimatum to the principals: You have two weeks to fill all your vacancies with ATRs. After that date, for every opening on your staff for which we have an ATR available, we will not only fill that vacancy ourselves, but we will cut your budget by an amount equal to that ATR's salary.

Of course, that would mean Klein actually was serious, which he is not.

Anonymous said...

I think that Chaz has put the problem very clearly, and none of the responses will fix it. There are many ATRs who paid their dues and now want the seniority rights that entitle them to teach in better schools. AND there are many open positions in the hard-to-staff schools that are difficult to fill with any experienced teacher who knows what to avoid. I hope that the union works hard to negotiate an equitable solution, but I doubt it will. After all, a young teacher is easier to handle, not just by administration in the schools but in the union as well.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many ATR's failed to apply for positions via the open market? That could become a political talking point for the DOE if many remain among the non assigned ranks. If so, the union will have a difficult time defending such inaction. The DOE will then win the public support for terminating such employees.

Anonymous said...

Of course, this is part of the end of teaching as a profession in the New York City public schools.

This is ongoing and worsening fascism, dicatorship, plunder of people's survival resources by the overlords. Think: neo-feudalism.

To those who think that the UFT is not destructive to NYC public school education workers:

If the UFT:

1. Has decided to nearly utterly screw teachers by "representing" judges, et al., WHY would even one teacher believe they are honorable?

2. Has been given a free reign for decades to HURT their teachers, endorsed by the teachers, WHY would any teacher believe anything has changed?

3. Extorts money from you by taking money out of every salary check whether or not you consent, WHY would any teacher believe even one of them cares about you?

4. Pays itself salaries like $132,000 to people who tell you, "Resign if you're not happy with your job" when you go to them to defend and help and protect you, WHY do any teachers imagine they would do what they're legally charged to do now?

As for Mulgrew:

1. He was not elected; he was appointed by the previous sociopathic personality in charge.

2. He is one scary and not particularly intellectually astute union hack who will now bring the UFT down to a whole frightening level - stay tuned!

When the montly UFT Executive Board meetings resume at 52 Broadway in the Fall, by all means, go! They are open to everyone, serve lots of great food that WE pay for, and are a fascinating education. Just take your blood pressure medication before you listen to one word out of their lying, sadistic, smug mouthes!

Good rainy Sunday, my fellow serfs,


Chaz said...

I like Mr. Talks's idea. If Joel Klein is serious about the Principals hiring teachers then the Principals must be given a time limit to hire ATRs and if they fail to do that, whatever the reason, then the ATR who are assigned to the school would have the school pick up the ATR's entire salary.


I am sure there are some ATRs who didn't bother to look for a job. However, many have and the Principals didn't even bother to contact the ATR.

Under Assault said...

A couple of things, and I'm speaking from what I have heard from the UFT at more than one meeting over the past two years, so if the union changes course, it is not MY wrong information, it is THEIR re-positioning.

FIRST: Tenure is state law. They cannot make a contract with a clause to terminate an ATR who can't find a job within a certain number of months unless the laws are changed. (That 18-mo. threat worked in Chicago because there was no protection in state law.).

Secondly: If the DoE sends an ATR on an interview, and if the princ. agrees to take that person in, the ATR cannot refuse. So all these hard to fill vacancies (let's say because the school is a horror) can in fact be filled: the DoE CAN send someone over if they wanted to. They have in many cases (who knows how many) abrogated their responsibility under the present contract to try and place teachers. Fact: there was a music opening when I was an ATR at a school with a bad, bad, bad principal. I decided not to to go the interview when I found out the principal was bad, bad, bad. The job opening was real. The principal called me and asked when I was coming. I told the principal: changed my mind, was warned to stay away from your school. That was the end of it. But the DoE could have sent me over there and they didn't.

THIRDLY: What Klein wanted with these last two contracts was to give principals the right to hire whom they want. He has never changed his position. I suppose it's because if he wants to hold principals responsible for their staff, he has to give them the ability to hire at will. So my guess is he will not turn around now and pressure any principal to hire an ATR, because if the ATR doesn't work out, the principal could say to Klein: Wasn't my fault, you made me hire that person, I didn't want to.

That's why this pickle. And we're STILL NOT SURE whether the UFT collaborated on this beforehand, or got outsmarted by BloomKlein and didn't see it coming.

Chaz said...


You are correct, to a point. The State tenure law does protect us and I don't believe NYSUT will allow any changes to it, even if the UFT agrees with the changes. However, if a Principal wants you but you don't want to go, the Principal would not want an unhappy teacher in his/her school. Therefore, the Principal will not insist in having the teacher in the school. I have seen this numerous times. While its true that the DOE can impose the ATR's placement, they usually try to let the decision be determined by the two individuals involved.

Anonymous said...

To Chaz:
Yes many ATR's did not receive an interview or an e mail reply. My point is that they should apply to multiple openings and hold on to their documentation. Then they have written proof of the failure by the DOE to live up to its agreement regarding the hiring of ATR's. This will be quite valuable in the public relations fight when the DOE attempts to fire ATR's during the upcoming contract negotiations.

NYC Educator said...

Is it true that ATRs can't decline an appointment? If so, that "mutual consent" nonsense is even more nonsensical than I thought.

Chaz said...

Yes, it is true that the DOE can "force" an ATR into a school in the district. However, this is rare because the Principal has the right to say no. (the ATR has the right to say no out of district) Therefore, if the ATR does not like the school the ATR only needs to tell the Principal how he/she feels about the school. I do not believe that too many principals would want the ATR.

The ATR needs to know how to play the game on how to get the school he or she wants.

Under Assault said...

I was told more than once that the teacher can't turn a job down if the principal says yes, but of course the teacher can try to persuade the principal why it's not a good idea to hire them.

In the older contract, DoE pressured the principal AND the teacher. I was sent to an elem. school in 2003 after being excessed. I didn't want to teach young kids, and the principal wanted to keep the 3/5 program she had going at the time. We both had no choice. She told me her music program would be totally shut down if she didn't hire me, and I was told I had no choice but take the job. We made it work, but neither of us wanted it at the start.

Under Assault said...

Chaz, I disagree with you. The DoE cannot force any ATR into a school where the principal says no. That's not only in the contract but it's what Klein wants -- and has said so. That's not to say the DoE can't pressure or make deals with the principal to force this to happen.

There is no such thing as knowing how to play the game. Senior ATRs and people in rare subjects do not have an easy time finding a job. You can be a great candidate with a great reputation but salary and/or age (among other things ) work against you. There just isn't any "game" in these cases. You don't got nothin'.

Chaz said...


Maybe the word "force" was a poor choice of words. However, I have seen the ISC take ATRs out of my school and tell them to report to another school where the Principal was clueless that he or she was getting an ATR. Coercion and deception might have been a better choice of words.

As for the "game". I have seen it myself. One of my ATR friends was to report to Springfield Gardens HS. He contacted the ISC and told them that he could not go to the school by falsely claiming that he had a previous run-in with an Administrator there. The next school the ISC tried to send him to was a new small school at Far Rockaway HS. He went for the required interview and told the Principal he does not fit into her school's theme. She allowed him to go back to his home school. Finally, the ISC offered him a job in a large high school in District 25 that had a better student population, he took that.

Yes, it is a "game" you just need to know how to play in it.

Under Assault said...

Chaz, a game maybe for some. For many others definitely not.
Haven't you heard of teachers subbing out of license year after year? They'll never get a real position or teach their subject again. I don't call that a game. I call it ageism, salary discrimination, and union busting.

Chaz said...


Of course it is not a real game. However, if the ATR just accepts their fate, the DOE wins. The idea is to provide input into the DOE assigning process and know your rights.

Until we get the DOE to stop hiring "newbie teachers" while other teachers are ATRs the ATR must understand how the DOE process works and what they can do about it.

Under Assault said...

Chaz, your sentence: "ATR must understand how the DOE process works and what they can do about it."

If they are early or mid-career people, they seem to have some success finding jobs.

If they are senior, they could "luck out" and get placed, or they can sub for the rest of their careers — depends on many factors, but not a whole lot on their skills. They could also end up subbing exactly in their subject with full programs and the school STILL not take them in permanently (either because Central is paying their salary or the position is temporary). That's a full-time sub, not the job they once had.

If they apply on line, they for the most part don't get interviews. If they go to the hiring fairs, they've been discriminated against (separate lines, delayed interviews, etc.). In either case, they are lied to and marginalized.

Even the UFT lies. That side agreement that gave principals an incentive to hire them was not for ALL ATRs, it was only for the centrally funded ones. That means when someone's program is cut (your school is not closing), your salary is paid by the school and not central. You're not one of the ATRs covered by that agreement, so there is no incentive to hire you.
What I'm saying is, for some ATRs there is no game whatsoever. They are chaff, and they'll end up where the wind takes them.

Chaz said...


I agree with what you said. However, what I am trying to bring out is that many ATRs simply accept their fate. An informed teacher can affect the placement process if they are pro-active (demand a placement in your district if it is a good district, let the Principal know about your feelings, or appeal to the ISC for a different school because of medical or personal reasons, etc.). I have seen it done by at least four teachers.

As for the UFT, I can't agree with you more.

Under Assault said...

Chaz, I must say I never thought of demanding a placement when I was an ATR. I had a great fear of the unknown and was not willing to take a chance they'd place me in one of those horror schools.
Also, I am of the feeling that if you demand anything in this system, you get another kind of rep, one that you'll never be able to shuck, as principals pass the word around about you. But, I take your point, that people can be more pro-active than I was. If you're in a good district, it's obviously better to press harder than if you're in an area of difficult schools.

Rachel Grynberg said...

I agree with UA completely. Chaz, nobody "accepts their fate." They see that there is no job out there for them. A "new small school" interviewed two senior ATR's at a school I worked at and neither was hired. They both are excellent teachers. There just are no jobs out there for people over 50, and few for people over 40. I lucked out -- two and a half hours away from my house -- probably because I am 41 and I hit a principal with enough sense to want an experienced staff. That said, I'm the oldest person on faculty, both in years and seniority.
Imagine you're 57 with say, 25 years in. You're intelligent, expert and very athletic. You see your friends go on interview after interview or worse, send out tons of letters and not get any responses. Like anyone who works a tough job, you have to manage your energies. It makes little sense to fight a losing battle. I have a colleague in much better shape than I who fits that description. For two years, that colleague has been applying for jobs via the open market, personal letter and attending all the available job fairs. Meet that colleague and you'd think the person was 41 or so. Nothing. One principal at a fair just flat out said, "Why should I hire you?" What can you say when you know the person KNOWS how much experience you have (he had the person's resume in hand)?
The only "game" is the one being played with ATR's. They're playing with people's careers and lives. The UFT needs to do everything to make sure these people can work for as long as they need, or there is no reason for us to exist. This is NO JOB for someone to do from 20-30 before law school. It doesn't prove anything relevant and it will wear you out. This is a job to commit your life to, or you may as well go to law school when you're younger and the loans don't feel as onorous.

Rachel Grynberg said...

Nobody can demand a placement. Show me a person who has done so. The UFT never tells you to do that. All they say is to keep plugging away through the open market, etc.

Hire Staff said...

Good post chaz..