Monday, November 29, 2010

Cathie Black Given Waiver Despite Being Unqualifed For The Position Of Chancellor.

New York State Department Of Education Commissioner, David Steiner, has granted a waiver to Cathie Black to be the new New York City Chancellor despite the objections by educators, parents, and politicians. I guess I can now apply to be CEO at Hearst Magazine since I am just as qualified running a media company as Cathie Black is in running the New York City Schools.

It appears to David Steiner that over 15,000 signatures of an online petition by New York City educators, parents, and politicians opposing the unqualified Cathie Black as Chancellor is not as important as what our Mayor4Life, Michael Bloomberg wants and that is a shame.

I always thought the Mayor really cared about the children but he was clueless what actually worked in the classroom. However, it is quite apparent that Mayor Mike only cared for himself by selecting an unqualified fellow businesswomen who is in his inner circle in society rather than an educator to lead the New York City School system. Children first? I don't think so, it is Mayor Blooomberg first and the New York City Public School children last.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The DOE Will Go To Any Length To Keep A Teacher They Don't Like Out Of The Classroom - The Saga Of Melissa Petro Continues.

The New York Post reported that the ex-sex worker turned teacher, Melissa Petro complained about the accusations against her on her Twitter account and was interviewed by the Office of Special Investigations, (OSI). Believe it or not it appears that OSI is investigating her for the following horrible (sarcasm) abuses she did as a teacher. You might ask what did she do? Hurt the children? Steal school funds? Supplied phony doctor's notes? Took time off to work another job? Noooooooo. It appears Melissa's terrible charges are for using the school computers, fax, and photocopying machine for non-DOE purposes. This routine use of school equipment, which most, if not all teachers do, is now subject to an OSI investigation. How unreal is that?. I am sure what the OSI outcome will be since Ms. Petro has already been targeted and it will be substantiated no matter how frivolous the accusation is.

Melissa Petro is subject to disparate treatment by the DOE only because the Mayor4Life Michael Bloomberg ordered her out of the classroom due to her publicizing her escort services she supplied before becoming a teacher. This is consistent with the DOE 'double standard" when it comes to going after teachers and Administrators. The DOE ignores previous and even present misconduct by administrators while leaving no stone left unturned when they target teacher and the case against Melissa Petro is just the latest example of this "double standard" where teachers are presumed guilty while administrators are presumed innocent.

While I may not agree with Ms. Petro's lifestyle choices before becoming a teacher, she should be given the same consideration as others and if she wasn't arrested or harmed a child, she should be sent back to the classroom.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why The New York City High School Graduation Rates Are A Sham As The Increases Are Mainly Due To The Use Of Questionable Methods To Show Phony Gains

I chuckle how Tweed, the media mouthpieces, and even the Obama Administration trumpets the improved high school graduation rates since Bloomberg became Mayor in 2002. However, the improvements in the high school graduation rates are not due to improved academic achievement by the students but by less than legitimate methods to artificially boost the graduation rates. Lets take a look at some of them.

“Credit Recovery Program”:

Almost all high schools have installed a “credit recovery program” for their students. The “credit recovery program” is highly uneven and can range from real academic skill work (but never as much as was taught in the classroom) to doing an essay. Of course some schools went overboard and gave credit to outrageous situations like this. Some schools made it so easy that you just needed to Google the answer. Unfortunately, the DOE has not published any statistics to show what percentage of graduating students were aided by the “credit recovery program” but it would not surprise me if some schools had double digit improvement in graduation rates due to the “credit recovery program”.

“Online Courses”:

In a select number of schools online courses are being used as a method to increase graduation rates. Some online courses are almost, but not quite as difficult, to pass as the actual classroom. Even in the more legitimate courses, the student can take the test up to five times before they cannot receive credit for the course. However, in many cases the online work can be done at home and there is no way to oversee if the student is actually doing the work or getting somebody else to do it for them.

“Life Skill Credits”:

Over the years the DOE has quietly allowed schools to give up to ten credits for foreign born students who’s native language is other than English. However, the criteria used seems to have been ignored as one school in particular gave up to twelve “life skills credits” to all students who came from another country, even English speaking ones like Jamaica and Guyana. Furthermore, no real effort was made to make sure these students actually attended school full-time in their native countries.

“Administrators Changing Grades”:

There has been increased pressure on Principals to improve their school grade and receive bonuses and one of the ways is to either pressure teachers in changing student grades or do it themselves. With Tweed looking the other way when some Principals have been caught doing it, more Principals are tempted to take the easy way out and do it also. Even when they are caught, the DOE appears to do nothing about it.

“Manipulating Dropout Rates”:

Finally, many Administrators will manipulate the dropout rates to make it seem that students who dropped out were never really at the school in the first place or transferred to another school. This practice intensified as principals were judged on their graduation rates. The lower the dropout rate, the higher the graduation rate.

Real academic achievement should be the goal not phony and artificially inflated graduation rates which has been the trademark of the Bloomberg/Klein Administration. I can only say to those clueless non-educators who trumpet the graduation rates, "BULLSHIT"!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Now That The Fix Is In And Cathie Black Will BeThe New Chancellor. Where Will The Budget Cuts Come From In The DOE?

The New York Post printed an article called " It's Slash And Learn For Black" on what she will be doing as the new Chancellor of the New York City Schools now that the New York State Department Of Education's Commissioner, David Stiener has fixed it that the committee will recommend that she gets a waiver. One of the first things she will need to confront will be the allocation of deep budget cuts that will need to be made at the DOE. We are talking about 5.2% for this year and next. Of course if Joe Klein was still Chancellor, I could guess where the cuts would not come out of, Tweed. However, Kathie Black's strong suit is she is a ruthless cost cuter and does not blink about firing large numbers of employees. Therefore, assuming the budget does not change, he is my educated guess.

To show that she means business, look for significant cuts at Tweed and their highly-paid consultants that have escaped the previous budget ax under Joel Klein. I wouldn't be surprised if she reduced the Deputy Chancellors by at least half and encouraged many of the Joel Klein holdovers (cronies) to leave the hall of power. Remember, these are Joel Klein's people, not Cathie Black's. She is no tool (except for Bloomberg) and I hope there is a real housekeeping at Tweed. That doesn't mean that she won't bring her own people in, of course she will but I still look for significant budget cuts at Tweed. Unfortunately, for the Instructional and Field Support Staffs, look for massive cuts here since many people believe these areas are just another level of bureaucracy since Cathie Black will try to limit cuts to the schools and doesn't want her legacy starting with cuts that have direct impacts on the children. I also believe their will be significant cuts in Building Services and reduce the custodial force significantly and rein in Custodial abuses. Another area is the Transportation and Food Services as these are easy areas to cut fat from as these areas historically were used to hid mid-level managers who were either out of favor with Tweed or just could not cut the mustard somewhere else in the school system.

Of course the major cuts will still come from the schools as each Principal will be given a reduced budget to live with. The question is where will they cut? The best guess will be the elimination of school aides, support personnel, and programs. No school wants to eliminate teachers and see their class sizes rise. If some schools do suffer from a lower student body, some teaches would be excessed and maybe retiring or resigning teachers will not be replaced. The same goes for the Administrators. Therefore, most schools should see little reduction in teachers and administrators. In fact, I would not be surprised if Cathie Black tells principals they must hire the ATRs because the hiring freeze will continue for the this and the next school year since the City and Tweed has already been criticized for raising class size despite funding to lower it and she does not need large class size increases at the start of her tenure, at least if I was her.

Yes, Mayor Bloomberg has proposed laying off 6,186 teachers next school year but with a teacher attrition rate of 2,000, the layoffs are 4,100. However, if you remember the Mayor proposed 8,400 teacher layoffs last year only to have no layoffs at all. Look for the same thing to happen here. The Mayor will probably include in his tenure proposal that the "last in, first out" layoff order should be eliminated. If anybody really believes he can get the State legislature to approve it over Statewide and united union opposition then I have a bridge to sell you. Furthermore, Bloomberg always starts off with a "doomsday budget" that under-counts the tax revenue and overstates the unemployment rate. The City is slowly emerging from the recession (New York generated the most new jobs of any other state last month) look for budget revisions that will be less dire. Only time will tell what the magnitude of the budget cuts will be and where they will land in the DOE. However, this is my best guess.

I must point out that external issues might complicate Cathie Black's problems For example less than expected State and or Federal aid, a PERB arbitration decision on the over year overdue teachers' contract and how firmly the union holds the line on tenure, seniority, and the ATR time limit. The third rails of union strength where the UFT cannot and will not compromise on.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why Did Chancellor Joel Klein Really Resign? I Believe It Resulted From Differences With Mayor Michael Bloomberg Because Of The Recession.

We all know that Joel Klein quit as Chancellor for the New York City Public Schools but the real question is why did he quit? The answer he gave was that after eight years it was time to move on as he accomplished his education reforms. However, I believe that the real reason that Joel Klein is leaving was his recent differences with Mayor Michael Bloomberg when it came to running the New York City Schools during a time of recession and budget cuts. A contributing factor was the evaporation of academic gains associated with the 2010 New York State tests and Klein’s failure to narrow the racial/income academic achievement gap during his tenure.

Joel Klein was the architect of the overcrowding of the “rubber rooms” (over 800 at one point) and the ATR crises (2,400) as he was willing to spend upwards of $240 million dollars (not including benefits) to pull and leave teachers outside the classroom. His plan was to force senior and highly-paid teachers out of the school system by closing schools and filing charges based upon frivolous actions. Furthermore, by using a one-size-fits-all teaching method (the Workshop Model) and the Peer Intervention Program Plus (PIP+) charges of teacher incompetence rose dramatically and is now resulting in many teachers being forced to resign or be fired in their 3020-a hearings. Moreover, under Joel Klein’s Administration, ageism and salary was a major consideration in filling 3020-a charges and the majority of “rubber room” iinmates were over 50 years old and making at least $70,000 yearly. This was a major part of Joel Klein’s “education on the cheap” policy with the aim of having an inexperienced and replaceable teaching staff that would not cost the City pensions and retiree health benefits. Therefore, Joel Klein’s attack on the experienced teaching force was consistent with Mayor Bloomberg’s long-term goals to reduce retiree costs and if it meant some inefficiency in the short-term , so be it.

Unfortunately, for Joel Klein the recession came along in 2008 and the City saw that their budget had to be reduced to account for the reduction in State & Federal aid as well as a shrinking tax base. The result was reductions in the Department of Education budget and the City started to question the DOE on not only the allocation of funds at Tweed but the necessity of wasting over 200 million dollars yearly on teachers not in the classroom. The increasingly divergent views between the City and Tweed showed up in the hiring freeze the City imposed on the Department of Education that made it nearly impossible to hire “newbie teachers” unless it was a shortage area. This freeze put pressure on Tweed and they eventually told principals to hire the ATRs and not wait for the freeze to end. This was a reversal of Tweed’s previous policy to encourage principals to hire “newbie teachers” and to ensure that approach, Joel Klein imposed the “fair student funding formula” that discouraged principals from hiring senior teachers in the schools. This upset Joel Klein’s plans to impose an ATR time limit in the next contract and further rid the system of senior teachers which was gaining traction in the media. However, the City, needing to save money,negotiated with the union to eliminate the “rubber rooms” and forced Joel Klein to support the agreement. The result is that principals could no longer remove a teacher from their school and the teacher stays in the school and on the Principal’s budget. The “rubber room agreement“ forced the DOE to settle many cases and the influx of freed teachers from the “rubber rooms” made it unnecessary to hire the “newbie teachers” Joel Klein wants. Mayor Bloomberg could no longer support Joel Klein’s use of hundreds of millions of dollars to warehousing teachers and non-teaching ATRs and forced Tweed to find a cost-effective way to utilize the teachers. In Mayor Bloomberg’s mind the short-term need vastly outweigh the long-term goals during a time of fiscal crises. To top it off, the Mayor now proposes to layoff up to 6,000 teachers already in the system and under the "last in first out" seniority system it will eliminate the pride and joy of Joel Klein to bring in more inexpensive teachers.

Finally, the lack of real student academic achievement has embarrassed the Mayor and the blame has to be placed on one person. Chancellor Joel Klein who said time and again we are narrowing the income/racial achievement gap and raising test scores. All that vanished with the results of the 2010 New York State tests which showed no real improvement since Joel Klein’s tenure began in 2002..

It should be very interesting if the real story of Joel Klein’s departure comes out but I do expect that when it does it will due to the changed policy differences between the Mayor and Chancellor because of the recession.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tsk, Tsk, Principals Are Upset That There Are No “Rubber Rooms” To Send Teachers They Don’t Want Or Like Out Of Their Schools And Must Still Pay Them.

One of the most important aspect of the April 15th 2010 “rubber room agreement” was the DOE commitment to keep teachers in schools while awaiting disciplinary 3020-a hearings. Before some of you tell me that I was against the “rubber room agreement”. I should remind you that I thought the agreement was the right thing to do. I questioned the potential lack of enforceability if Tweed reneges on parts of the agreement and of course I have been proven right. However, one of the main reasons to close the “rubber rooms” was to make it more difficult for principals to remove teachers and kick them off their budget and that has in fact happened.

A Chapter Leader contacted me with a story about his “Leadership Academy Principal” complaining to him about his failure to remove two teachers he wanted out on trumped up charges of corporal punishment and was told by the DOE to reassign the teachers in the school. The DOE official told the Principal that unless it is criminal in nature he was to keep the teachers whom were already removed from the classroom and place them in an Administrative setting in the school. Wait to he finds out that there is no sixty day rule since the teacher reassignment is in the school and that only goes for reassignments outside the school.

The closing of the “rubber rooms” had many advantages to both the City and the UFT. However, the reason that Tweed objected to the closing down of the “rubber rooms” was that Joel Klein encouraged the principals to remove teachers from their schools for the most frivolous of reasons and jettison their salary after sixty days. This fell in line with the Chancellor’s temporary and replaceable teaching staff in his “education on the cheap” policy. If it wasn’t for the recession and the hiring freeze imposed by the City, we would not be talking about the agreement today. The result of the agreement was that principals could no longer dump teachers they did not like or want and warehouse them out of the school. Furthermore, the principal could no longer remove the teacher from the school’s budget after sixty days since the teacher was left in the school to await their charges and go through their 3020-a hearings. This has in fact been happening as few, if any, teachers have been sent to DOE offices or the CFN’s to do work. Instead they are being left in the school, out of the classroom and still interact with the school staff. This has made the principals uncomfortable and it doesn’t help that they must pay the teacher’s salary until the entire 3020-a process is complete, which from beginning to end can take a minimum of six months even under the best of circumstances. Furthermore, it is quite possible if the reassigned teacher is in the school and goes through the 3020-a hearings and is not terminated (80% are not), the teacher may be placed back into his or her position whether the Principal likes it or not. However, time will tell if that is what will actually happen.

Finally, many of the DOE offices have used reassigned teachers for years to do jobs that they have no manpower to do because of previous budget cuts which disproportionally affected the regional and district offices as Tweed actually increased their headcount. The graph by Gotham Schools shows it best Here.With even more budget cuts coming, the need for reassigned teachers is that much greater. Especially, as the remaining reassigned teachers whom work in those locations go back to schools as ATRs, there are no free replacements to do the ever increasing volume of work that the reassigned teachers were doing.

Finally, with principals unable to pull teachers out of the school at their leisure, it should reduce reassignments and stabilize the teaching profession. There are now financial consequences for principals who reassign teachers not just the collateral damage they do the children when their teacher is removed but to the school’s budget as they must hire a substitute to run the reassigned teacher’s classes while having the teacher on the school’s budget.

Tsk, tsk, don’t you feel sorry for these principals? Yeah, right.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Even The New York Daily News Finds Chancellor-Elect Cathie Black Unqualified. How Come Our Union Leadership Doesn't?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg picked one of his rich and powerful friends to become the next Chancellor of the New York City Schools. The nominee is magazine CEO Cathie Black who had no educational experience and who's children went to a ritzy private school. Further, she admits that she is clueless on how the New York City Pubic Schools work. Even the Mayor's usual media mouthpieces, the New York Daily News and the New York Times questioned her lack of qualifications. Most disturbing was the lack of any competition for the job. It appears that she was selected because she was in the Mayor4Life's inner circle of friends. Of course the New York Post didn't see why the Chancellor needs to have educational qualifications. Now it is up to the State to grant a waiver for the unqualified Cathie Black to become the next Chancellor of the New York City Public Schools.

You would expect that our union would take the lead as opposition started to question this selection of an unqualified person to be Chancellor. This was the time for the powerful UFT to take a stand and write a letter to State Commissioner Stiener to deny a waiver for the Chancellor-elect. Shockingly, I could not believe my eyes when the UFT President, Michael (don't call me Mike) Mulgrew stated the following:

“When I met her, I thought she was very nice and I’m looking forward to working with her,” Mulgrew said. “When someone is new you have to be optimistic. You can’t go in with any preconceived notions and that’s the only way I am going into this.”.

Instead of leading the opposition our UFT leadership is actually welcoming the unqualified Chancellor-elect. Just unbelievable!. Now the opposition is being lead by real education reformers and politicians like Tony Avella, and even the head of the City Council's education committee, Robert Jackson, have expressed their displeasure with her and set up online petitions to express there disgust of Cathie Black's lack of educational qualifications and deny her the waiver she need sto be Chancellor. If there is one silver lining in this is the mass resignation of many of Joel Klein's top aids at Tweed Here. Moreover, look for others to follow.

Our union should be taking the lead in opposition of the unqualified Chancellor-elect, not welcoming her.

Petition One:

Petition Two:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Teacher’s Perspective On The Real Legacy Of Joel Klein During His Destructive Tenure As Chancellor Of The New York City Schools

I was watching the local FOX affiliate and almost gagged hearing their praise of Joel Klein as Chancellor of the New York City Schools. They heaped praise over the improved test scores, graduation rates, and student achievement. Further, they stated that under Joel Klein we saw more teacher accountability, the elimination of the “rubber rooms” where teachers stayed for years doing nothing at full pay, and the rise of Charter schools. I think it is time to take a closer look at what Chancellor Joel Klein has actually accomplished in his eight year tenure as Chancellor of the New York City Public Schools.

Student Test Scores: Despite the propaganda from the Bloomberg/Klein Administration and their media mouthpieces, , student test scores have remained relatively flat throughout their tenure (see the NAEP results) and the income/racial achievement gap actually widened in some cases. “Dumbing down” State tests only showed the constant test preparation did not result in real academic achievement and that was evident in the 2010 New York state test results.

Graduation Rates: One of the most abused statistics that Joel Klein takes credit for. During his tenure Tweed has found many methods to artificially raise graduation rates. Starting with “credit recovery”, online courses, Principals changing grades, manipulation of dropout rates, and even foreign credits. No questionable methods were rejected, no matter how outrageous, if it resulted in artificially higher graduation rates without increased student academic achievement.

Teacher Disrespect: Under Joel Klein’s leadership, teacher disrespect was at an all time high. Paperwork in the classroom increased threefold during his tenure and a one program fits all “approach took away teacher independence and individuality, especially in the elementary schools where incompetence allegations rose dramatically. Moreover, in Joel Klein’s inner circle of eighteen there was only one educator and who had direct access to him and her program was one of the few cut at Tweed. Furthermore, it was under Joel Klein that there was an increase in reassigned teachers from less than 100 to over 800, (not including hundreds of others reassigned in their schools because of lack of space in the TRCs) resulting in overcrowded “rubber rooms” until the Mayor finally put an end to this embarrassment by negotiating an agreement with the union over the objections of the DOE and Joel Klein, to end the “rubber rooms”. However, the DOE appears to have the last laugh as Tweed has reneged on some of the sections of the Agreement. Finally, the Chancellor practiced “a top down approach” that excluded school based personnel from any real decision-making ability that affects the schools.

Exclusion Of Parents: One of the hallmarks of Joel Klein’s tenure as Chancellor was his exclusion of any community and parent input in education policy. Parent complaints were ignored by Tweed and the only time parent complaints’ were taken seriously was when it was against a teacher. Joel Klein’s disregard of parents was legendary and time and again when parents stood up for their schools or complained about a Principal or ill designed education intuitive, Tweed just either ignored them or dismissed their legitimate complaints. Under Joel Klein, the DOE turned a deaf ear when parents would show up at PEP meeting to complain about various injustices. In fact, Joel Klein used to play with his blackberry while the parents aired their grievances and seemed unconcerned about their issues. Sometimes he even left the room as parents poured their collective hearts out to him to reverse school closings that the courts eventually stopped.As for his claim of "children first", it was really a shame. When a student e-mailed him for help, he just brushed her off and you can read this disgusting saga Here.

Rising Class Sizes: During Joel Klein’s tenure as Chancellor the CFE won a lawsuit mandating that the State set aside funds to reduce class size. The Chancellor, rather than following the law, used the CFE money to reduce class size apparently cut a deal with the State to divert the CFE money to other undefined purposes. The result has been raising class sizes over the last three years, in violation of the CFE lawsuit.

ATR Crises: The travesty of having between 1,700 and 2,400 teachers without a classroom is entirely the creation of Joel Klein who let principals hire who they pleased and resulted in the DOE wasting $160,000 million dollars yearly, not including benefits,. It was only the recession that forced the Mayor to tell the Chancellor to place the ATRs in vacant positions as he imposed a hiring freeze in most subject areas. However, as more schools close, more teachers will become ATRs unless the new Chancellor changes the rules once again.

School Funding Fiasco: Under Joel Klein Tweed imposed the fair student funding” formula that hamstrung principals from hiring experienced teachers without taking a hit to their budget. The original iteration of the “fair student funding” formula had a hold harmless provision that did not penalize schools that had a majority of high salaried, experienced teachers. However, in the present version principals are encouraged to hired inexperienced teachers just so that they can meet the ever shrinking budget imposed on the schools by Tweed. The result is less experienced teachers in the classroom and collateral damage to the children.

Lack Of Transparency In Funding: How many times have people complained on the lack of transparency on who gets cut and who does not. Even in this recession, under Joel Klein’s tenure the headcount at Tweed just keeps going up and only the education based instruction group has showed significant reductions. Moreover, Tweed plays with headcounts by falsely claiming they are reducing the Central Bureaucracy when it is really direct support services and Regional/District school support offices that are being cut. Furthermore, Tweed has misspent money that was to go to needy schools and students to fill a budget gap and tried to hide it.

Arrogance At The Top: Joel Klein’s popularity rating was an all-time low of 30% with the general public and was not welcomed in Albany or at the City Council where he routinely ignored their requests for information only to claim that they are anti-education when they questioned his demands for additional funds or authorization for his friend’s pet projects that had questionable educational impact on the schools. He long ago lost the respect of parents, politicians, and teachers due to his arrogance and autocratic rule.

Consultant Services And No-Bid Contracts: Another legacy of Joel Klein is the many no-bid contracts that he rammed through the PEP and the questionable hiring practices at Tweed. Do you remember this? Even during this recession, business as usual is still going on at Tweed. Accountability is only for the schools and not for Tweed.

Charter/small school favoritism: Joel Klein turned a blind eye to the lack of special education and English language learners being in the Charter/small schools and his staff at first denained such shenanigans were going on only to admit it was and then ignoring the issue. His love letters to “Eva Moskowitz” tells all about how he feels about Charter Schools and the uneven playing field the neighborhood schools in competing with them.

The legacy of Chancellor Joel Klein's academic accomplishments can be best summed up as all "smoke and mirrors"with little, if any, real student academic achievement and his "top down approach" showed it was never what was best for the children but was best for him and his non-educator friends at Tweed. Hence his identification with the “children last” and education on the cheap” policies.

To Joel Klein “goodbye and good riddance don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out”.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Oh What A Wonderful Day, Chancellor Joel Klein Finally Resigns.

Finally, the day almost every classroom teacher has been waiting for, Chancellor Joel Klein has resigned. Oh happy day. Gone is his anti-teacher rhetoric, pro Charter school policies, and the top-down management that resulted in little or no student academic achievement during his eight year tenure.

Already, Mayor Bloomberg has appointed another non-educator for
Chancellor and that brings up the possibility that Joel Klein was forced out after his claims of academic improvement was found to be all "smoke & mirrors" once the State's 2010 scores were released. Moreover, his resistance to closing the "rubber rooms" which has caused considerable embarrassment to the Bloomberg Administration resulted in the City overruling the DOE and negotiated a deal with the UFT. Finally, Joel Klein's low popularity numbers with the public and his relationship with both the State Legislature and the City Council was antagonistic and many of the City's education proposals were ignored or rejected because of their dislike of Chancellor Klein.

Well, Michael Mulgrew this is the time to demand that the Chancellor be an educator, Haven't we seen enough damage when non-educators run the City schools? How about some real guts and not just weak rhetoric. We will be watching closely how the union leadership reacts to this one-shot opportunity to make sure an educator is returned to head the schools. We will be watching very closely.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Will There Be An ATR Time Limit In The Future? It Would Appear Not If The Union Stands Their Ground.

There are widespread rumors circulating through the schools that the next contract will include an ATR time limit as the major “giveback” in the next contract. It appears the rumors originated from school Administrators who heard it from clueless DOE administrators at the local Children First Networks. Fortunately, it is only “wishful thinking” as the ATR time limit is one of the three areas where the union refuses to negotiate with the Bloomberg/Klein Administration on. The other two being seniority during layoffs and tenure protections. While it is true that the Bloomberg/Klein Administration has proposed an ATR time limit in their contract proposals to PERB. It is highly unlikely that the PERB Arbitrators will include it in any tentative contract without the approval of the union. Remember, the teacher’s contract is the last one subject to the old “City pattern” and if the union shows intestinal fortitude, PERB will have little choice to agree with the union that the “City pattern” be followed, with some massaging along the margins. For the Bloomberg Administration not to accede to the “City pattern” puts the City at risk to be slammed in the next contract by the woefully underpaid police who’s union then can claim that the City abandon the “City pattern” and they should be paid a salary consistent with the surrounding communities. This would have a negative effect on the City finances as all the uniformed services have a “me too clause” and would cost the Bloomberg Administration millions more than anticipated.

Presently, the union has shown no indication of weakening on the ATR time limit and I don’t expect them to. Especially since in Chicago the opposition faction won the election because of the union agreeing to a 18 month ATR time limit that resulted in quite a number of teachers being removed from payroll, many due to age and salary. Furthermore, the ATR crises was the sole creation of Chancellor Joel Klein who (with Randi Weingarten’s agreement} eliminated the excessing requirements that required a district to hire excessed teachers before new teachers could be hired in a subject area. Finally, the history of Chancellor Joel Klein’s DOE is to come to an agreement with the union only to either renege or ignore the parts of the agreement that Tweed does not like or find inconvenient. To believe they will suddenly change their way of thinking is beyond belief.

The economic and financial pressures on the DOE and the increasing transparency on how the DOE spends its money will force Tweed to pressure the Principals to hire the ATRs and for our union to acquiesce to an ATR time limit would be like “snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory”.

As long as our union stays strong, the ATRs will eventually find themselves in the classroom and teaching the children they care about.

ps. If you are an ATR and want to know how the expiring ATR agreement with Tweed affects you. Under Assault provided the following information.


There was some talk in here about what happens when the ATR agreement ends, but payment arrangements for the ATR salaries will continue. The Nov.2008 side agreement:

12: This agreement will expire on December 1, 2010 although paragraphs 4, 5 & 6 will continue to apply to hiring done on or prior to that date, according to the specific terms set forth above.

4 . When a centrally-funded ATR is hired to fill a regular position in a school (other than the school from which the ATR was excessed), on or after November 1st of the calendar year in which they were excessed, central DOE will pay the difference between the actual salary of the teacher and a starting teacher salary, and then, in subsequent years, will continue to pay the difference between the actual salary and the subsequent steps on the salary scale (for example, in year 2, the difference between actual salary and step 2A on the salary scale). This subsidy will terminate once the excessed employee has been in the position 8 years.

5. Until November 15, 2010 a school that hires a centrally-funded ATR to fill a regular position (other than a school from which the ATR was excessed) on or after November 1st of the calendar year in which they were excessed, in addition to being charged in accordance with ¶4 above, central DOE will credit the hiring school's budget one-half of the starting teacher salary that would otherwise be paid by the school under 4 above.

6. After November 1, principals can offer to hire centrally-funded ATRs for the balance of the school year on a provisional basis whereby ATRs accepting this offer can be excessed, regardless of seniority, at the end of the school year in which they are hired, or can opt to be placed in excess again at that time. If the ATR is not excessed again at the end of the school year, and does not opt to be placed in excess at that time, the ATR will become a regularly-appointed pedagogue at the school. The subsidies provided for in ¶4 & ¶5 above will not apply to ATRs hired provisionally pursuant to this paragraph, but will apply should such an ATR become a regularly-appointed pedagogue at the school.