Friday, May 09, 2014
The Bloomberg Era "Gotcha System" Against Teachers Is Evident In The DOE/UFT Contract.
Its interesting how UFT President Michael Mulgrew, and Chancellor Carmen Farina really like each other and an outsider would think that the twelve year Bloomberg Era of teacher bashing is a thing of the past. However, the truth is that nothing has changed at the DOE. The anti-teacher attitude is evident when one looks at the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) section of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in which "special provisions" are now part of the contract with regard to the ATRs. Moreover, for ATRs who won their 3020-a termination hearings, the DOE preservers their right to refuse to offer them an interview for a "provisional vacancy" or long-term leave replacement. This is a DOE imposed "caste system" that no self-respecting union would ever allow except ours did.
The Chancellor's failure to "clean house" at the DOE has allowed most of the Bloomberg Era DOE negotiators and policy makers to stay in place. The result is an anti-teacher bias that continues to permeate throughout the DOE and is quite evident when looking at the MOA. For example there's no reduction of class sizes, no change in the termination process of the teacher evaluation system, a failure to eliminate the "fair student funding" that encourages principals to hire the "cheapest" and not the "best teachers" and there is no protection against incompetent or vindictive principals. Furthermore, there's little quantitative actions in the MOA that makes the classroom environment any less hostile than in the Bloomberg years.
As bad as it may seem for the appointed teachers, the new UFT/DOE contract diminishes the "due process rights" for the ATRs. First, it allows unscrupulous or vindictive principals to cite the vaguely defined "unprofessional conduct" as a basis for pushing the ATR into an expedited one-day 3020-a hearing. Second, the ATRs can be "forced placed" as principals can decide to hire an ATR for a "provisional appointment" or long-term leave replacement, despite the ATR not wanting to fill the position. In other words, there's no "mutual consent" as there is for appointed teachers. Third, if an ATR misses two mandatory interviews in a year,the ATR will have voluntarily resigned and taken off the DOE payroll. Finally if an ATR fails to show up to a job placement after two days, they will have assumed to have voluntarily resigned in that case as well. No such provision is in place for appointed teachers. It needs to be said that once the two year ATR agreement lapses, will the DOE continue to exempt the ATRs from the "fair student funding" or forces schools to pick up their salaries? Who knows?
For ATRs who won their 3020-a termination hearings, the DOE reserves the right not to offer them mandatory interviews or "provisional vacancies" if they were fined $2,000 or more, suspended for 30 days or longer, or took a stipulation. The DOE has decided that these teachers are guilty of what the DOE charged them with despite the decision of the independent arbitrator after hearing the DOE evidence or lack of such evidence that supported the charges. Moreover, there is no time limit that the DOE can go back to place these teachers in this category. That's right they can go back a decade or more for teachers who went through their 3020-a process. This group has even more diminished rights and will stay in the ATR rotation.
The result is a three tiered teaching system that hurts "unionism" and that no union should ever should accept. Only the DOE, with its Bloomberg Era anti-teacher bias would propose such a caste system and how the UFT could agree to this is a disgrace. Shame on our union to allow for this travesty and betraying the ATRs to different rules than for other teachers. Please read Jeff Kaufman's terrific article on the ICEUFT blog dealing with the ATR issue. In addition, another "must read" article on the ICEUFT blog is James Eterno's insightful analysis of the ATR situation.