Friday, October 11, 2013

My Impressions Of The Queens ATR Meeting

On Thursday October 10th the UFT held an informational meeting with teachers in excess at the Queens UFT headquaters.  The meeting started off with UFT Special Representative Dermot Smyth who told the approximately 100 ATRs that they should be appreciative to the union that thanks to the UFT, you are getting paid and have health benefits.  Mr. Smyth further claimed Mayor Bloomberg would have given them a contract if they agreed to impose an ATR time limit.  Interestingly, Mr. Smyth failed to mention it was the UFT in the first place who gave up bumping and seniority rights that caused the ATR crisis in the first place.  I guess he forgot to mention that small point.  He also stated that the ATR rotation system was to eliminate the 4,800 teachers the Bloomberg threatened to layoff,  Of course by then the City lost the "last in, first out" (LIFO) battle and he wasn't laying off his "newbies", so it was a bluff that the UFT, for their own reasons bought into.  Mr Smyth would be real good writing fiction or at least revisionist history.  Oh, by the way Mr. Smyth is the UFT person to contact if you are being abused as an ATR in the Queens schools.  Good luck on that.

After hearing Dermot Smyth spinning the ATR crisis to the point that it made us all dizzy, I could swear that some ATRs were barfing in their napkins,  it was UFT Special Representative Amy Arundell's turn to make her case to an increasingly skeptical crowd.  Amy spoke effectively and for the most part factually as she explained how the ATR system worked, or at least should work.  Ms. Arundell repeated that the City was willing to give us a contract if we agreed to a four month ATR time limit, the UFT refused to even discuss it.  She stated the ATR time limit is a deal breaker and repeated that the union is not willing to agree to any time limit  (I guess they saw what happened in Chicago and Washington D.C.).  She also claimed that the DOE algorithm is based upon potential vacancies sent to the DOE and while its not perfect it was an attempt to match schools with skills, (how has that been working?  Not good if you ask me).

Ms. Arundell did explain that there is no hiring freeze and principals can hire whom they please and not hire ATRs if they so choose as long as they're willing to go through hoops and loads of DOE paperwork.  The only thing principals cannot do is to hire a per-Diem sub for a long-term position and if a principal tries to do it the UFT will inform the DOE of the violation and it will be quickly handled.  She also told the ATRs that they are only required to do the work the appointed teachers do that means that ATRs are not required to do hall or cafeteria duty if the teachers in the school don't do it.  Moreover, if an ATR is not left lessons then the ATR should use the lesson plan that is in their subject area even if the class is not say Art and the ATR is an Art teacher.  Amy also explained that if a school offers the ATR a long-term position (vacancies or leave replacements) the ATR cannot refuse the assignment.  Finally, Amy Arundell stated that its not only the salary but the seniority issue complicates ATRs from getting jobs since if a principal appoints an ATR to a position the ATR's seniority would leap over less senior teachers in the school if building excessing occurs.  That's why they came up with the "provisional contract".  Amy also said that all rotating ATRs will either get an "S" or "U" (usually for time and attendance).

Ms. Arundell touched on the future and is hopeful for a new direction for the ATRs. She told the ATRs that the union is going to try to convince the new Administration to eliminate the "Fair student funding" and make teachers a unit and not based upon actual salary.  This will probably eliminate the ATR crisis. I hope she's right.

Did Amy spin?  Yes, like the 50% retention rate by schools that offer ATRs a "provisional contract"  Anybody I know, and I know over 125 ATRs personally , only 2 ever received a position the next year after signing the "provisional contract".  For the principals its all about the money in that second year.  She also couldn't believe her own eyes that there were less than five of 100 hundred ATRs who were under the age of 40 at the meeting, no age discrimination in the ATR pool.  In fact, she seemed quite upset when I said it at the meeting and refused to acknowledge the obvious.but then I didn't expect anything different.  Finally, she explained that the DOE algorithm is a good thing since Principals were using ATRs for free for the school year without paying for them.  She forgot to add that "we decided to rotate the ATRs weekly and make their lives a living hell so that principals could not get free labor".  I guess that slipped her mind.

I must admit overall Amy Arundell was very effective, informative, and interesting and I guess I could handle the little bit of spin that was part of her presentation.  I'm glad I went.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog. I'm not going to read it for awhile because everytime I do I get more and more upset. I'm 52 and have been teaching for 23 years. I just became an atr and move from school to school every week. I'm at least 20 years older than anyone I've seen on any staff. Most of the students are completely out of control and the teachers have no experience.The coverages are hellish. I recommend Xanax to all my comrades out there and try to keep a sense of humor. From what I've seen its actually worse to be in the classroom. Most administrators are demanding that the staff allow the kids to call them by their first name! I don't buy into any of the infuriating lies the union is telling us. Sad to say I simply don't trust them anymore, and I always held it in high esteem.

Tom Forbes said...

Nothing has really changed since previous meeting the past couple of years. Those Unity slugs will spin anything management tells them. I find everything they say can be countered with, yes but we live in the real world. I got up every day nervous about what the day may bring most of the time. Sure glad I am on my way out.

Anonymous said...

"She also claimed that the DOE algorithm is based upon potential vacancies sent to the DOE and while its not perfect it was an attempt to match schools with skills."

Laugh out loud on this one. Jamaica and Beach Channel are in our final year of phase out and we are still getting multiple ATR's rotated in each week. We haven't had an opening in a long time. Algorithm based on vacancies? Who are they kidding?

Anonymous said...

FSF is good and bad. The concept that different kids require different levels of service and thus some are more expensive to educate is valid. A kid who requires 12:1 service does require more teaching positions in a bldg than a kid who requires 34:1.
Where FSF falls apart is that after calculating how many types of kids a school has and awarding an amount of $, the DOE then reduces this unevenly. Some schools get 100% of their FSF and some get 115% and some get 82%-- first inequity.
Next, school budgets get supplementary funding after their FSF which are not equally distributed. These funds are based on favoritism- pure and simple.
Next, the schools get debited for counselors and APs and others based on straight dollar-for-dollar salaries which creates an incentive to hire less experienced and cheaper ones. Of course, this ability only applies to small and new schools.
Next, the school budget gets hit for teachers based on the average salary of teachers for that school in the previous year. So a 25 year teacher and a newbiw cost the same for a particular school based on that school's previous year salary average. Again, schools that focus on hiring newbies lower their average and thus get more teachers for the same dollars. The obvious solution is to use a city wide teacher salary average instead of a particular school's average. If done, you would again see schools bragging about how experienced and how many degrees their teachers have instead of looking for ways to exit the experienced ones and hire in newbies. The teachers in the ATR pool---not the ones we all revile- the good ones would be teachers of choice for hiring as they bring experience.

Anonymous said...

Thanks chaz for your take on the meeting. I couldn't go because I am in a muti session school and didn't get out till 4:16.

I did learn from your blog on why principals will not hire us.

Anonymous said...

so now atrs cannot turn down a vacancy if it is not a good fit?

Anonymous said...

the DOE wants to give atrs 4 months to find a job - I want to give them 4 minutes before I go completely ballistic about all of the completely illegal things that principals are doing out there !! giving 6 classes to teachers- having mandatory meetings during lunch - giving all kinds of classes online for credit or credit recovery- collecting weekly lesson plans - giving atrs secretarial work .. The DOE and all of the principals who have been hired within the last 4 years should all be fired - when are we going to strike to end this atr abuse

Anonymous said...

Thank you for attending the meeting and for sharing the information that was presented.I did not attend this year, but I did go last year (my first year as an guidance counselor ATR ). Seems as if not much has changed in the way of "union spin". Oh yeah there was one thing; I didn't know that the hiring freeze was over. This does explain why I meet so many new teachers and counselors in my weekly travel. Glad the union is allowing this to gonon as well. SMH !!!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the info. Did the UFT really say that schools offered 50% of the ATRs who signed a provisional contract a position? Did you hear that right?

I know of nobody who was offered a second year after signing a provisional contract.

Anonymous said...

No age discrimination? Maybe Amy Arundell should get her eyes checked.

Jim Callaghan said...

no age discrimination? then why did Weingarten file an EEOC complaint on behalf of about 50 teachers- selected by her and her lawyers Carol Gerstl and Nepotism hire Adam Ross?
She handed me the complaint and told me to do my usual thorough job and the New York Teacher (now the McFadyen-led Pennysaver) ran the story.
Then everything hit the fan as her staff started whining that the teachers deserved to be fired because they were incompetent!
Leading the pack was Manhattan Borough Rep Jerry Goldman- later forced into retirement after a sexual harassment complaint by one of his subordinates. Donna Mangenello wrote a letter defending principals. Rona Freiser, who had her own scandal covered up by Adam Ross and Weingarten joined the "bash the teachers" brigade.
Another top aide to Weingarten, who racked up the most per session hours while working after school for the UFT at 52 Broadway, also wrote a long letter denouncing her teachers and praising the principal who refused to give me the per session postings.
Weingarten called me into her office and tried to bully me by saying I got the "facts" wrong.
I told her the "facts" were continued in her affidavit she filed- vetted by Ross and Gerstl.
She told me I should have talked to he principals to get their side of the story!
(really? don't thy have their own newspaper?)
AS with her phony lawsuit claiming race discrimination when paraprofessionals were fired, she bowed to Bloomberg, Klein and her aides in killing the case.
We never wrote another word.
-Jim Callaghan, former UFT writer.
P.S: My age discrimination against the UFT is proceeding; the judge allowed the case to go forward so we will see who will is willing to lie under oath.
Weingarten and Mulgrew have spent over $200,000 in defending the lawsuit- dues money forked over to Weingarten favorite's law firm, where she once worked- Strook and Strook- just another UFT coincidence.

saddleshoe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
saddleshoe said...

I think they are still collecting data on that. Clearly, Amy Arundell knows thus isn't working for us and needs to go "in a different direction.".

saddleshoe said...

She didn't say there was none. She is only going to report on what she can prove with data. You know the UFT has lost a age discrimination lawsuits. They are going to need more data

saddleshoe said...

As far as the algorithm, Amy is presenting what the DOE is supposed to do. We have to get the data to her to prove otherwise. I emailed her recently when I was sent to the only one of three schools in a building which did NOT have a vacancy in my subject and she was receptive and took note. She just sent out a survey on leave replacements. If we notice age or any discrimination, we have to get her the data. She has always listened, responded and taken action when possible when I have contacted her. Obviously, she knows this system isn't working for us because she iknows it needs to go "in another direction." We have to keep reaching out to her and giving her data -- she is as hard working as can be -- and she will support us.