Monday, November 14, 2011

Who Are The People On The Joint Oversight Committee And Why Didn't The UFT Put An ATR On It?

The ATR Agreement that was signed by the DOE and UFT as part of the deal not to layoff the "newbie teachers" (like the Mayor would have really done that) has a section that requires that the two parties meet twice a term to determine if the Agreement is actually working and whether there are abuses to the ATR assignment process. In typical UFT fashion of claiming that a "lemon is really lemonade" the ATR Agreement is working as they cheer that 228 of the ATRs took provisional (not permanent) positions in the NYC school system. Left unsaid is that still leaves 1,200 ATRs going from school to school weekly, mostly senior teachers and that is what the union calls success?

The question is who is on the Joint Oversight Committee? Is it Michael Mendel? Amy Arundell? Leo Casey? (please let this be no). Who? How about the DOE? Andrew Gordon? Who else? Who cares? Well I care. First, why is there not an ATR on the Joint Oversight Committee? You would think that first hand knowledge of how the ATR Agreement is really working would be sought after by both the DOE and union? However,, the union chose not to put an ATR on the committee since they don't want to hear the inconvenient truth of the failure it is. You wouldn't want real information to be given to the affected members would you?

Every time the ATRs complain about how the union does not protect them, the unions answer is always the same. "We protected your job" . Unfortunately, the truth is the union aided and abetted the DOE in causing and perpetuating the ATR crises. Let's look how this happened.

First, the union agreed to the ATRs in the infamous 2005 contract that eliminating excessing and bumping and allowed principals to hire from the outside. Second, the union failed to challenge the Chancellor and allowed Joel Klein to demonize the ATRs in his famous 2006 memo to principals not to hire them because they are "lazy and bad teachers". Third, the union allowed the DOE to drop the "job freeze"during the summer hiring season to ensure the few ATRs would be given an opportunity to interview for positions. Fourth, the UFT bought into the DOE propaganda that their algorithm would maximize and match schools with vacancies and ATRs. In reality the algorithm is a fraud and some teachers were assigned to schools that didn't even have their subject area! The DOE algorithm simply randomizes the ATR with the schools in their district and does not take into account potential matches. Finally, many principals are either hiding or not filling their vacancies and the UFT does nothing about it. Some District Reps have been diligent in reporting these vacancies to the leadership, while others don't. Regardless, the leadership at the UFT appears not to be too interested in pursuing principals for their failure to either fill their vacancies or using day-to-day subs in violation of the ATR Agreement. Here is one example. Notice how the union's newspaper, The New York Teacher, seems never to have articles about the ATRs? I guess "out of sight, out of mind".

I believe the UFT suffers from the same lack of transparency as the DOE does and this secrecy and disinformation is not in the members interest, especially the ATRs., It is the responsibility of the two parties to provide the following information to the affected members.
  • Names of the people on the Joint Oversight Committee
  • Issues discussed
  • Agreements reached
  • Items not resolved
  • Numbers of ATRs placed using the DOE algorithm
Many of us want our own classroom. However, this is extremely difficult when the union allows the DOE to abuse and use the ATRs as they see fit. To claim the ATR Agreement is working is pure disinformation, a disgrace to the ATRs and a disservice to the students. I thought it was "children first...Always". I guess I was wrong.


Anonymous said...

THE ATR AGREEMENT is a COMPLETE FAILURE. We are randomly being placed in schools that are mostly at least an hour from our homes. Once we schlep in, it is only to be assigned as a sub to random classes that are not in our subject areas. The students treat us as subs because to them that is what we are. They don't understand that I really am a teacher but that I am now a teacher without a class. And if there are no classes to cover then we are sent to a lounge to sit in all day and do nothing, which in my experience is really exhausting. We are overeducated babysitters - that is all. To call us something else would be .......

28 year retired nyc teacher said...

The present Unity leadership of the UFT is like a totalitarian party that has taken power in some country.
For 6 years you and the other few people running and reading each others blogs have been crying out and trying to understand why they don't really care about their members.
The fact is that they are not into "retail" unionism and fighting for and preserving the protections that were won by the previous leaders of the UFT. They DON'T CARE that veteran teachers are harassed, discarded, and replaced by newbies because they still get the union dues.
They are into "wholesale" unionism and the political alliances that that requires.
That is why they are constantly plotting with other union bosses and democrat politicians to protect their turf. And they are not going to get militant with the same politicians they plot with and deal with.
They can't be bothered to meet with ATR's but somehow they extend aid and the use of their building at 52 Broadway to the occupy wall street gang. And who do you think OWS fronts for?
So stop asking questions like "Why didn't the UFT put an ATR on the committee?"
As for how you, and the other ATR's, deal with your sad situation: You can only hope for a mayor and a chancellor who understand the problems and solutions for public education, and change the moronic top down approach of Bloomberg-Klein. The methods of the past (pre-1968) will have to be reimposed. Then, the people who ran public education knew its limits.

Anonymous said...

How many times does our union ignore their members when they negotiate behind our backs and the result is it is usually bad for us.

28 year retired nyc teacher said...

To the poster at 2:10
My previous post in this thread explains the motivation of the Unity caucus that runs the UFT and why they don't care very much about ATR's.
And consider these facts reported on the April 12, 2010 blog describing who really votes for that leadership, what it really says about the sheep like, don't-want-to-know, and terrified teachers, and the retired teachers that the leadership caters to:

By Rick Hess on April 12, 2010

It's one thing for unions to be dominated by veteran teachers. it's a problem of a whole different kind when they're dominated by non-teachers and retirees. Yet, in the New York City's United Federation of Teachers (UFT) elections last week, just 40% of votes were cast by active classroom teachers. How is that possible? Read on.
First off, note that less than one in three UFT members voted at all.
What you might find surprising about the UFT election, though, was the degree to which it was dominated by people who aren't teachers.
In last week's UFT election, 28% of the 36,907 elementary teachers voted, 20% of the 11,697 middle school teachers voted, and 30% of the 19,931 high school teachers voted. The result: a total of 18,713 ballots were cast by elementary, middle, and high school teachers.
Those teacher ballots were swamped by votes from retirees and "functional" teachers. What exactly is a "functional teacher," you ask? Good question. The UFT New Teacher Handbook reports that examples include "attendance teachers; guidance counselors; hearing educational services; laboratory specialists and technicians; nurses and therapists; paraprofessionals; school secretaries; social workers and psychologists; [and] speech teachers." There are 45,889 functional teachers. Twenty percent voted, yielding 10,629 ballots.
And the union's 53,560 retirees voted at a 50% rate, yielding 24,978 ballots. Now, a recent rule change diluted the impact of retiree votes so that they count "only" for about 0.7 of a standard vote. This adjustment meant that the retirees cast the equivalent of about 18,000 votes. Active union members voted at about a 24% rate, while the 53,000 retired members voted at a rate of about twice that.
So, do the math. From classroom teachers: 18,713 votes. From nurses, lab specialists, school secretaries, and such: 10,629 votes. From retirees (after their votes were diluted): 18,000 votes. So, 60% of the votes counted were not cast by active classroom teachers.
As one teacher commented at, "What is the reason that retirees are allowed to vote anyway? I am just a few years away from retiring myself, but would not expect to play an active role in the education scene once I am not an active teacher--even if I will continue to pay dues, fees, etc."
As one wag notes, "We would never consider giving former NY state residents the right to vote for governor...Why would we give retired teachers the right to have such a strong influence on key educational policies that will never impact them? The fact retired teachers may have some interest in a pension program is almost incidental."

Anonymous said...

I find this insulting!
From NT Times:

New Policy on Substitutes Leads to More in Permanent Slots

Nov. 14, 2011, 10:58 a.m.

By Beth Fertig

The number of teachers without permanent assignments has fallen to its lowest level in more than a year, and both the city and the teachers’ union credit a new agreement.

Teachers without permanent assignments — also known as “excess teachers” — are now sent to work as substitutes in different schools every week, instead of just one or two schools for the whole year. The change went into effect in early October.

According to the city’s Department of Education, there are now 1,126 teachers without any assignments. This is fewer than at any time during the last school year.

The Bloomberg administration views this pool of teachers, known as the Absent Teacher Reserve, as a wasteful expenditure because it costs about $100 million annually to keep the teachers on the city’s payroll. Many of the teachers lost their jobs because of budget cuts or because their schools were closed. Most find other positions within the school system, but others spend years in the pool working as substitutes.

The city has used a hiring freeze to encourage principals to fill their vacancies with the excess teachers, but some principals claim the teachers don’t always want permanent jobs and would rather float around without any real responsibility.

By rotating the excess teachers to different schools in their district every week, the city and the union hoped more of them would land permanent jobs by connecting with a wider range of principals. Since the change began in October, the city says 228 teachers landed permanent jobs.

“Our agreement with the U.F.T. to change the A.T.R. rotation has resulted in more teachers being hired by schools than during this same time frame in past years, which is both beneficial to schools and is an overall cost savings for the system,” said a Department of Education spokeswoman, Barbara Morgan.

The United Federation of Teachers president, Michael Mulgrew, agreed that “people are getting placed.” But he said his union was still working with the department to make sure long-term vacancies were filled by the excess teachers so they did not have to move around every week. He acknowledged that some teachers had complained about the system.

Principals have mixed opinions, too. Seth Phillips, principal of Public School 8 Robert Fulton, in Brooklyn Heights, said he understood the city’s reason for the change. But he said it had been “up and down,” noting that in one case he was asked to discipline a teacher who had just been sent to his school for the week.

However, he said it was nice to know every Thursday who would be showing up the following Monday, and that he had seen a wide range of different teachers.

Beth Fertig is a senior reporter at WNYC. Follow her on Twitter @bethfertig

28 year retired nyc teacher said...

To the poster at 6:36
You can complain and be insulted all you want and it doesn't change anything.
This Unity UFT leadership knows who votes in their elections and who doesn't. They protect the retired teachers' guaranteed 7% interest in their TDA accounts, their low cost retiree health insurance, and the fact that they don't pay state taxes on their pensions.
In return the UFT plays ball with the DOE and the politico-educrat powers that exist to give them some of what they want. And right now what they want is to deflect blame from themselves and put it on the backs of the active teachers.
Sacrificing rubber room teachers and TDA's is a SMALL PRICE to pay to keep themselves in power.
Until the rank and file active teacher workforce realizes what serious strategic errors this Unity UFT leadership has made, putting all of them in danger, nothing will change. And these bloggers like Chaz are just not getting the message to them. What is getting to them is crap like this NY Times-WNYC crap.

Anonymous said...

Discipline a teacher? What the hell does that mean?? How dare this article state that ATRs are the ones that do not want to accept is the principals who do not want to hire us! This article is slanted against usual!

veteran teacher said...

I saw that article in the Times and am not shocked at all they could run with this.

In my decade in the system, this is by far the dumbest thing I have ever seen. I have a 7-12 license and have been in elementary schools the past month. Pure waste of my time.

Like a previous post said, it is exhausting sitting there doing nothing. I was never as bored today as I was all year. It was parent/teacher afternoon and I sat in a lounge for 3 hours this afternoon until it was time to leave. Thank God I had a school that did not care that I did not stay the night session. Imagine staying in that room from noon to 8:30?

Chaz said...

28 years:

I do get it. I write this blog to bring up the injustices and hope some people actually see what is going on.

My job is to educate and if I can get one person to realize what is going on then it is a success.

veteran teacher said...

My favorite part of the article was about how the principal had to reprimand an ATR who was only there a week. Let's see, there are over 1,000 ATRs in the system and one had a problem. 1 out of a thousand. Not bad. how many principals are in the system who are incompetent people that harass their stuff? I'd say it's more than one out of a thousand

28 year retired nyc teacher said...

Getting "one person to realize what is going on" is not going to change the situation with respect to moving the Unity UFT leadership to change their operating philosophy.
And good luck with waiting out the politico-educrat view of public education now in effect.

Anonymous said...

Why are you being place in elementary school with a 7-12 license? Again that is a clear violation of the agreement. Why don't you fight it?