Thursday, August 18, 2011
The ATR Crisis Gets Worse As Principals Refuse Or Can't Hire Experienced Teachers As Class Sizes Rise Significantly.
There are rumors that the amount of teachers in excess or as known as the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) will exceed the 2,000 mark as many schools are shedding teachers and class sizes are rising dramatically due to the Tweed imposed budget cuts. It seems the only teachers that are being hired are the "newbies" that some struggling and new schools have been given permission to hire since the DOE relaxed their hiring restrictions. Shockingly, many of the "newbies" are from the alternate certification programs the Teach for America's two year wonders and Teaching Fellows. Here. Most school principals have had to deal with an average budget reduction of 13.7% since 2007 and increasingly has excessed teachers and increased class sizes. In one large high school there were double digit retirements in the last year and the Principal was unable to hire any replacements due to the budget cuts.
By contrast, the DOE has seen a 8% increase in their total budget for bureaucrats with an astounding $20 million dollar increase for those non-educators at Tweed. Furthermore, Tweed plays "creative math" when it comes to allocating funds between the schools and their bureaucracy. Tweed pockets increases in funding and falsely claim they are reducing headcount. I won't even go into the obnoxious increases in consultant services and technology at Tweed.
But let's get back to the ATR crises and what needs to happen if we really care about what is best for the children. Many principals cannot or won't hire ATRs because of their budget problems. Therefore, the next best thing would be to place ATRs in unfilled vacancies and reduce the class size problem. Many of the ATRs are experienced and great teachers who would be a tremendous asset to many a school. However, this is only a temporary solution to a Tweed created problem. The real problem is to eliminate the "fair student funding" fiasco that reduces school funding by up to 20%. (interestingly, charter schools are exempt from the fair student formula so as to maximize their funding) and the reallocation of money from the bureaucracy and consultants to schools. However, as long as the unpopular Mayor Bloomberg and his pet poodle, Chancellor Dennis Walcott are in charge, don't look for that to change anytime soon.
It is time for the union to fight hard to reduce class sizes and make sure an experienced teacher is in front of the classroom. Presently, the union has quietly allowed the DOE to do as they please as long as the "ATR is getting paid". Good teachers want to teach and not be a glorified babysitter. The union must do what is best for the children and that is having low class sizes and an experienced teacher not all lowing the DOE to use or abuse ATRs, all 2,000+ of them.