It is becoming increasingly clear that Tweed's efforts to vilify ATRs as lazy, incompetent, and bad teachers along with severe budget cuts at schools (17.4% since 2008) have had the desired effect. Few experienced ATRs are being offered positions as principals do what is best for themselves and not what is best for the students in the school. The DOE "job fairs" are mostly a joke and only the worst schools that experience high teacher turnover, and transfer schools regularly show up and hope to pick off the youngest and possibly untenured teachers to fill their needs.
Privately, principals will tell you that they would just love to have experienced teachers in the classroom but their budget and the "fair student funding formula" makes it next to impossible for them to hire them. Even "Leadership Academy principals" have found that some experienced teachers are necessary if only to show the "newbie teachers" what teaching is about and act as a mentor. However, unless the DOE offers financial incentives to hire ATRs, principals will not hire them for their vacancies. In fact, since Tweed relaxed the hiring restrictions almost all schools are simply going through the motions of looking at ATRs only to hire Teach For America (TFA} or Teaching Fellows (TF) teachers by falsely claiming the ATR teachers don't meet the needs of the school.
NYC Comptroller John Liu published some data that shows how the DOE wastes money by not properly placing ATRs in vacant positions. Here. Is it any wonder that ATRs believe they are discriminated when applying for vacancies in the NYC schools? For the schools it is a financial disincentive to hire senior teachers because of the salary.
Presently, their are 1,940 ATRs in the system and the DOE, in its uncaring and incompetent ATR placement process has elementary school ATRs in high schools, high school ATRs teaching 2nd grade and shop teachers ATRs in schools with no shop courses. Should we trust these people with our future? I don't think so.
What is needed is a new ATR Agreement between the union and the DOE that encourages principals to hire ATRs in vacancies. This agreement should include the following.
- Financial incentives for principals to hire ATRs like those offered in the 2008 ATR Agreement.
- Ensure a school cannot hire a "new teacher" if there is a teacher in excess in the license area in the District.
- Union oversight on any DOE granted exemptions to principals who claim that excessed teachers cannot properly fill the vacancy.
- Eliminate the "fair student funding formula" that penalizes principals who want to hire experienced teachers.
For the DOE, "children first" is properly placing ATRs in the right schools and encourage principals to fill their vacancies with the best, not the cheapest teacher qualified for the position.