Friday, February 07, 2014
The DOE Is Using Field Supervisors To Thin The ATR Herd And The Union Doesn't Seem To Care.
The Department of Education has tried many ways to try to eliminate the ATR pool that our union very unwisely allowed the DOE to form in their terrible 2005 contract in the first place. First, the DOE asked for a time limit, the union told them no since the original agreement with Tweed was that the DOE would pay for teachers to be ATRs indefinitely as a condition for having an ATR pool and allowing principals to hire "newbie teachers". Next, the DOE instituted the "fair student funding" formula that gave principals a disincentive to hire experienced teachers since their higher salaries adversely affects the school's budget. Next, Chancellor Joel Klein and his Tweed cronies started a public relation offensive that portrayed the ATRs as "bad teachers" and the media picked it up. Finally, Michael Mandel of the UFT proposed that ATRs be rotated from school to school in response to Mayor' Bloomberg's bluff to layoff teachers. According to the UFT spin machine this agreement would force principals to pick up the ATRs for their vacancies rather than have them for the year "free of charge". However, like all UFT/DOE agreements, it backfired in the union's face as the DOE either ignores the agreement or changes it to serve their interests. The result is a useless, worthless, and ridiculous weekly rotation system that serves no purpose to the students oi New York City.
Now the DOE has come up with yet another way to try to thin the ATR pool by exposing them to sham observations from field supervisors. Anecdotal evidence has shown that a good number of ATRs are being given "unsatisfactory observations", with one field supervisor giving almost 50% of his ATRs an "unsatisfactory observation". Many of these filed supervisors are asking for detailed lesson plans, doing Danielson-like observations, a Common Core rigor approach, and dictating the content of the lesson that the ATR is to teach. As these complaints pile in, the union doesn't seem interested to confront the DOE on the apparent abuses by their field supervisors.
I believe, this may be the latest attempt to demoralized and force ATRs to resign and retire before the de Blaio/Farina administration places them back into the classroom next school year. The one good thing is that an "unsatisfactory rating" and an "ineffective rating" are not the same as two "ineffective ratings". Therefore, for many ATRs who receive their first "unsatisfactory rating" it will mean little since the DOE can't bring 3020-a termination charges. However, as a result of this it may be possible that the DOE will generate two lists of ATRs, one for ATRs who received "satisfactory ratings" and another that received "unsatisfactory ratings" with only the ATRs who received "satisfactory ratings" eligible for hire by principals who have vacancies, while the "unsatisfactory rated" ATRs are placed in all remaining vacancies or as "push in teachers" in struggling schools. Of course this assumes there will be a "hiring freeze".
I hope I'm wrong and the union will take pro-active action on the field supervisor issue since I believe that observing an ATR in a strange school with students that are not theirs is unfair and the entire process needs to be grieved as soon as possible.