Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An ATR Open Letter To The DOE, Principals, And The UFT.

Dear fellow educators of the New York City School System I write this letter to tell you about my fellow ATRs you seem so determined to demonize, ignore, and refuse to hire,  We are experienced teachers that have a "passion for teaching" and "wanting to make a difference" by motivating our students to succeed in life.  However, we find ourselves displaced as teachers traveling from week to week to different schools and find our considerable talents wasted as "babysitters".  We come from closed and downsized schools or were accused of actions that were found to be false and as punishment we were excessed out of the classroom and sent to the ever growing ATR pool.

To the principals:  You should be falling over each other to hire ATRs, we are experienced, have good classroom management skills, and deep curriculum knowledge.   You claim you want the "best teachers", instead you hire untested "newbies" or inexpensive and usually not tenured teachers.  Instead of maximizing your students' academic potential they are simply "guinea pigs" for teachers that have not mastered the teaching skills and are subject to a steep learning curve themselves.  I ask you, would you have your child operated on by an inexperienced or new surgeon or an experienced surgeon with a good track record?

Yes, I know its primarily about the salary (age and seniority issues are also a factor) and that the misguided "fair student funding" formula makes it difficult to hire "quality teachers" but I need to remind you that your schools "student growth" scores will affect your own job performance numbers.  Its in both you and your students best interest to hire the "best teachers" available and not the cheapest if you want to keep your Principal's position.

To The Department Of Education:  Stop with the slogan "children first....Always".  Your actions speak for themselves.  You have cut school budgets by 14% since 2007 and your "fair student funding": formula makes it difficult for principals to hire the "best teachers". If you really want to help the students then have a separate budget line for teachers and make them a "unit".  Principals will be happy to hire ATRs knowing they are experienced and will improve student outcomes in the school.  In fact give the principals an incentive like the one in 2009 where the principals are paying the salary of a new teacher with the DOE picking up the rest.

It makes no educational sense to have over 2,000 ATRs and pay $160 million dollars while class sizes are the highest in a decade.  Finally, is it more important to maintain a faulty ideology and force schools to hire untested and teachers from alternate certification programs like the two year Teach For America wonders or the "one and done" Teaching Fellows than retaining and appreciating the experienced teachers necessary for the best student academic achievement?

To The United Federation Of Teachers:  Be pro-active.  Make sure students are being taught by teachers certified in that subject area.    Stop putting your head in the sand and pretend its not happening, we all know it is and having teachers teaching a subject they are not certified to teach only hurts the students.  Moreover, put the DOE's feet to the fire and threaten an age discrimination lawsuit.  Yes, Amy, there really is age discrimination even if you can't see it. How about spending our COPE funds on an effective commercial that show the DOE's policy of recruitment over retention restricts schools from having the "quality teachers" our students need. The union really needs to expose the DOE's "children first" policy as a fraud.

All three groups need to do the "right thing" and maximize the potential for student academic growth by putting the ATRs back in the classroom where they belong. Its about what's best for the children.  Right?  Right!


Anonymous said...

I know that De Blasio has said he wants to fix the ATR situation but the whole thing could end up being really scary. What if we are dumped in schools that we don't want to be in - what if they are too far away from where we live - what if they have no openings on our subject areas - what if we simply don't fit in with the staff or administration?? What if we had no choice about where we end up - that to me would be worse than moving around every week. At least if we are dumped in a disgusting place now we are out in a week - what if we have to stay???? Is that a real possibility. Also, many of us are not up to date on common core stuff or even smart boards because we have never had access to them. Are we going to get the support we need and DESERVE? any thoughts??

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more anonymous- 6:49 PM. A forced placement in a horrible school or a school with an awful commute, etc. would be far worse then moving around every week. The DOE has the ability to do that now, but fortunately, they have not forcibly placed ATR's. Why fortunately? Because some schools have terrible administrators who aren't supportive, students who have been "forgotten" by the Bloomberg era and reflect that in their actions and behavior and some that have incredibly low staff morale. Some teachers out there would actually prefer to be ATR's because their school is so bad!

As an ATR, many times you are grateful that you only have to spend a week in an awful school. Imagine being permanently placed there, where the Admin. is not supportive, but instead determined to get you out by by giving you the worst classes, etc. They didn't want you to begin with, so they resent you being there. Would it be better to be placed in a situation where you're not even wanted???

Chaz, you have said several times that you are glad to be an ATR this year, but yet you sound like you are complaining in some of your posts. Surely, every ATR feels like they don't deserve this, but would forced placement be better? Also, ATR's are not included in the whole evaluation junk science thing. That is a good thing (and why the ATR pool is looking more attractive to scared teachers these days), but your mentioning it in some posts makes it appear as if you are actually unhappy about it. Are you?

Anonymous said...

Heartfelt and true. Too bad all of the three groups refuse to listen.

Anonymous said...

Now being told I must stay in current school another month as an ATR. Bad school, terrible location, hours away from home. Thanks UFT, as usual.

Anonymous said...

I think the ATR situation is here for good. No way will a mayor force teachers upon a principal they don't want especially in today's educational climate. I'm fine being an ATR for the next 20 years b/c like a previous poster read, when you get a crap school, it's only a week.

Anonymous said...

I happened to speak with Amy Arundell today for another reason. During our conversation, she happened to mention that the "one week at each school" situation is going to change. I think she meant that there would be longer gigs at each school. If you're at a good school, great. If you're at the High School from Hell, horrific!

Anonymous said...

I'm back - the first anonymous - glad that so many ATRs are thinking as I am. I just think that the UFT will think they are doing us a great service if they end the rotation and it seems liek it is an easy thing for them to give up. Rotating sucks- it is the worst- we can't do simple things like make doctors' appointments becuse we don't know our schedules - but it is still far better to rotate than to be in a horrible place for any more than a week. I am sorry that the one ATR is being forced to stay at one such place. It could happen to any of us. Some schools take me 30 minutes or less to get to and some take as much as 2 hours. And you are correct about the administratons we encounter - some are terrific- most are despicable. I wish we had a say in our own futures and it does not seem as if we do.

Anonymous said...

The ATR ACR situation has been a complete mess we ALL know that. Any human being with a half brain who looks at the current ATR crisis and makes note that the DOE aka Bloomshit wastes over 100 million dollars every year not utilizing quality teachers and quality guidance counselors. WHY would you not use these resources as an organization?? Yet, this bloomshit mayor goes on radio shows, tv, newspapers and "brags" how the schools are significantly better now than they were. Well, how can that be?? Diblasio has spoken to the DOE and has gotten BS from them regarding the situation because ALL the DOE puppets walking around can't speak due to being afraid of being fired. Our country has a mole inside of it and its mikey bloomshit people. He will act like he really "cares" about the people of NYC and alike but behind doors he is the demon inside of our society (and schools for that matter) who is able to execute his warped old mind. Think about it. bloomshit is in his 70s...take a look at him in the photos,,,drooping facial eyes bulging...he is an ole man people who is out of he has a few more pieces of paper than most but big deal he was lucky (just ask our president) he did not do it himself.....To wrap up this long blog I can only prey that Mr. Diblasio reads this blog and cleans up the stench this old outdated, maniac mayor has left.

Anonymous said...

Nice post but no9t all ATRs are looking forward to going back into the classroom in some of these horrible schools.

You might get your wish but it can turn out to be a nightmare.

Anonymous said...

My recent experiences as an administrator in an "A" school in a great neighborhood in trying to hire ATRs:

1. First vacancy- 38 candidates in ATR pool. Contacted all re: job. 2 responded. 1 won't interview if they are covered by Danielson. 1 wants to stay an ATR and "see what happens"

2. Second vacancy- 22 candidates in ATR pool. Contacted all. No responses.

3. Third vacancy- 18 candidates in ATR pool. 3 responses. One won't come for an interview- wants to be hired over the phone. One wants me to move the school closer to his home in Suffolk. One does not speak English.

Chaz, love your blog, but some folks want to stay ATRs because they are dodging the new accountability or are riding the ATR surf until retirement. Sorry to burst the bubble.

Chaz said...

Anon 7:41 am

Its true that some ATRs don't want a position but most do even with Danielson and the TES.

Over the summer I applied to 12 vacancies in a "shortage area" the Open Market System and did not get one interview. I find it hard to believe that what you claim to be true

Anonymous said...

Why on earth would anyone want to be subjected to junk science imposed on us for the need to fire us. Anyone with one iota of intelligence would refuse. What is in it for any teacher. The crap imposed on us by the powers that be should be rolled back. As an administrator you think that it is a bad thing that the people who you are charged with destroying would not want to be subjected to your destruction of a career based on idiotic junk science. You are a hunter and we are the hunted. All of those ATR's who have been subjected to an impossibly hostile work environment have had the epiphany of saying no.

I find it heartening that teachers who have been abused have the intestinal fortitude to stand up for themselves. I personally have a very hard time buying into the tall tale that this large number of ATR's was contacted in the first place when only newbies are being hired. Furthermore, when a person is subjected to constructive discharge it should be expected that the person being harassed might not want to be subjected to further abuse.

Anonymous said...

You are probably an administrator with a horrible reputation for going after teachers. ATRs are not dumb we are not going to take positions with administrators who go after teachers and believe me we see what is out there and we talk and you probably have a horrible reputation. ATRs want to be with supportive administrators who will support them - not ones who will go after them to get their A ratings - which will hopefully go the way of Bloomturd because we know the ratings are bull. Why do you have 3 openings - sounds like people want to leave you not join you for a reason

Anonymous said...

Me again. All true. Too bad I was not hiring in Earth Science- I would grabbed you. I want teachers who can teach and who care about the kids.

Keep up the good fight.

Anonymous said...

The open market is a farce. I applied to 10 positions and didn't get one interview. I have 23 years of extensive experience, numerous teaching awards and and love teaching. This ATR situation I find myself in is simply disguised age discrimination and very abusive. I'm treated as a pariah, in a different school weekly. It reminds me of an old movie Logan's Run, where they kill anyone over 30. Bloomberg couldn't do that so he did the next best thing -- ATR.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 7:41,

I think that everyone(ATrs, teachers, administrators or even city politicians) like to paint everyone w/ the same stroke of paint.

The city needs to assign people b/c sometimes, I am e-mailed by an AP at 2 am and when I receive the email to try and respond back on my way home, either the AP is out for the day and emails back at 2 am again, they say they were never given the message or we play phone tag for 4 days and then I get the obligatory email that the slot is filled.

With all the bs an ATR has to endure to get a position in which we are just gonna get excessed from again, why go through hoops?

Or my favorite one is when I am waiting in the lobby for an interview around 4 pm on my own time and the AP asks if we can re-schedule and takes zero consideration that I just wasted my afternoon.

Anonymous said...

I have been an ATR for about 6 years now (my school closed in 2007), and I have had mixed feelings about my position. I have taken 2 provisional positions in the past 7 years, but I would NEVER do that again. Initially I hated being an ATR, but now I would be happy to stay this way until retirement (10 years from now). I feel safer in this position than I would in the classroom. There are too many horrible principals and APs who think nothing of ruining your career because they are souless and usually stupid. Yes, there is no dignity in being an ATR, but really, how much dignity is there in being a teacher nowdays? I like to come home and feel relaxed, knowing that I do not have to do any paper work, or see that annoying kid in the back of my room who can't stop talking. I think we, as ATRs, have the better deal at the moment. I wouldn't trade places with the classroom teacher at this point, and I do not plan on looking for a position any time soon (not that I would get one anyway!)

Anonymous said...

The ATR is in part created by the last UFT Weingarten contract with Bloomberg--which ended seniority transfers. This was the worst decision ever made by a union.
Also, the Open Market System is a farce-and so is the ongoing DOE orchestrated hiring halls especially during the summer and early fall for ATR's.
There might be hope for ATR's with a new administration and a possible contract before July 1-but I don't trust the union leadership as they have more important items on their contract agenda.