Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Characteristics Of A Teacher That Principals Want According To The DOE Toolbox - The Reality Is Very Different. Today, All ATRs Have Been Assigned

The DOE policy not to place excessed teachers in vacancies has resulted in over 1900 teachers without a permanent assignment as the school year begins. This destructive and wasteful policy should not exist but it does, Thanks to ex-Chancellor Joel Klein and ex UFT President Randi Wiengarten as a result of the infamous 2005 contract. Belatedly, and reluctantly, the DOE has authorized their Teacher Hiring Support Center (THSC) to develop a toolbox how ATRs can be hired by telling teachers what principals want in a teacher. While the THSC means well, it is really unrealistic in this time of school budget cuts, (un)fair student funding, and Tweed's continuous attacks on senior teachers.

Here is what the THSC claims what principals want in a teacher.
  • Knowledge of teaching skills.
  • Classroom management skills.
  • Strong communication skills.
  • Knowledge of subject matter.
  • Knowledge of student assessment strategies.
While I agree that the above referenced items are what principals should be looking for in a teacher. The reality, especially in the New York City School system is much different. In going to "job fairs", talking to other ATRs and Chapter Leaders, here are what principals are really looking for to fill their vacancies.
  • Inexpensive teachers.
  • Non-tenured teachers.
  • Young, preferably under 35 years of age.
  • Come from alternate certification programs (TFA or TF).
  • Willingness to take on extra duties without compensation.
While some of the old-time principals do try to ensure that they hire teachers that meet the THSC criteria, within their severe budget constraints imposed by Tweed, the "Leadership Academy Principal", on the other hand, only looks at the financial bottom line. That means hiring teachers that meet the criteria I have listed above. To these principals knowledge of a subject, demonstrated results, and classroom management skills are secondary to hiring a warm body based upon how expensive the teacher is, regardless of that person's teaching skill. Power and control is more important to these principals than hiring a "great teacher" and the financial constraints

While I might believe that the THSC is sincere about what principals want in hiring a teacher, the destructive policies by the leadership at Tweed and the rise of the "Leadership Academy Principal" has in reality, resulted in only the inexpensive, younger, and non-tenured teacher in excess getting job offers.

It is disappointing that the DOE is two-faced when it comes to placing ATRs. On one hand the DOE encourages the ATR to go to "job fairs" and apply for vacancies on their excessed teacher website while on the other hand discourages principals from hiring "great teachers" because they make too much money and then demonize them in the press as "bad, incompetent and lazy because of their failure to obtain a position. For senior ATRs it is a "stacked deck" against them and it takes a rare Principal who would hire based upon what is best for the school's students than on what is best for the Principal.

Finally, as of today, August 30th, all ATRs have been assigned to their schools and they could find their assignments by going on the Excessed Staff Selection System. These assignments are good until October 9th when the DOE can send you to another school. These placements do not tell the ATR if they are filling a long-term position or that it is as a day to day substitute in the school.


Rod said...

I received my ATR assignment today which is outside my home district and called the HR Director from my current network to inform her of the error. She is trying to get "downtown" to resolve it. So,I asked her where to report if this is not resolved by next week. She said report to the school out of my district anyhow since I have to report "somewhere" on 9/6. What district is "somewhere" in? If the contract is to be upheld I will be re-assigned. So do I go to this school...to sit around? I contacted the UFT without a response yet. Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Again, I am disgusted with the system....how people can be treated this way. If its not illegal, then its definitely immoral and unethical.

Anonymous said...

It's the Bloomberg Business model.
Did you see the way he gloated yesterday at the news conference and the local officials who kissed his behind? What? For doing his job? You're as good as your last storm/blizzard response....I guess!Sweet girl, you are so right, it is disgusting. We are helping children, we're not selling junk bonds!

zulma said...

Since the inception of the open market transfer option(OMTO) (2005 contract), teachers have been unfairly not hired because principals want cheap, untenured labor. It is time for the union to stop this process. When the UFT and the DoE come to table again, one item that must, must be negotiated for is the revamping of the OMTO. There must be stipulations and clear-cut options for the hiring of senior teachers. As long as the OMTO continue to be used, the school system will be flooded with TFA, TF teachers who don't care about tenure and have no desire of staying in the teaching profession.

In the meantime, principals from the Leadership Academy will hire at will employees and ATRs will continue to be gypsies, traveling from one school to another.

Anonymous said...

All the above are correct.
Private sector doctrine today hires r know-nothings in our schools from Principals Academy,TFA and TF, because they are not invested in the status quo and Bloomberg thinks they bring new perspectives.

Veteran Teacher said...

Hey Rod,

I was not placed outside of my district, but I did contact the UFT yesterday. If I were you, I would contact human resources at 718 935 4000 and demand to be placed in my district. It is a joke to be placed outside your district when contractually, you must be placed inside the district. But, keep in mind that they may also place you out of license area too which has happened. All the best!

Veteran Teacher said...

Hey Chaz,

you are right. The THSC has very idealistic goals, but sadly, TWEED and the powers that be live in a world in which dollars and cents and a teacher's benefits, pension, TDA etc mean more than a kid learning how to read. No one believes it either which is sad.

The only thing I dis-agree with you is on the age that principals want. I am under 35, have my Master's plus 30 and am completely undesirable for a principal to hire because I have a life outside of work and told one principal on the lone 'interview' I went on that taking kids to Europe over spring break and having to pay for it out of my own pocket and not being compensated for it was not feasible for me. Also, they do not like when you have tenure either which you pointed out.

I have mixed feelings on Weingarten b/c the open market did get us the no layoff clause, but I feel she was easily influenced to 'corporate reforms' as Mike Mulgrew put it.

Best wishes to all! The key is to stay together and not quit which is what the DOE wants

Anonymous said...

Veteran Teacher wake up. There isn't a no layoff clause in the contract. That's why Mulgrew sold ATRs out last June to get the mayor not to lay anyone off.