Friday, July 17, 2015

An Example Of The Danger In Being An ATR

When I rotated from school to school many teachers would pick my brain on various issues ranging from their pensions, work rules, discipline, or just simply to grip, lots of griping.  I would be greeted with "you're so lucky to be an ATR" .  They would say things like you don't have to comply with the punitive Charlotte Danielson rubric, or worry about the MOSUL,  the obscene amount of paperwork, blaming us for student failure, and the administrative  pressure to pass failing students.  In that regard they are right.  However, there is a down side in being an ATR. Just to name a few.

  • A stranger in a strange school.
  • Having no permanent location to call home.
  • No place to store your belongings.
  • Field supervisors who give you "fly by" observations.
  • Few per session opportunities.
 Besides the above list the worst is the reduced "due process" rights that ATR have, thanks to the 2014 contract that has resulted is many ATRs being given a "U" rating and some even terminated!  Weekly I hear from ATRs the injustices they experience and how poorly they are treated.  Be it no bathroom key, continuous hall or cafeteria duty, being given secretarial work, assigned six classes to teach with four of them in a row. Even if the ATR was to grieve it, the damage is done and refusing an assignment can lead to 3020-a insubordination charges.  While the DOE abuses the ATR our disconnected union leadership  twiddle their collective thumbs and does little to stop these abuses.

That brings me to an egregious action taken by one Principal against an ATR that has not only hurt the ATR, but shows how little the union cares about helping ATRs when targeted unfairly by a vindictive Principal.

 The ATR is a 28 year veteran of the system that joined the ATR pool when his school closed.  In his 28 years he never was disciplined and always received "satisfactory" ratings.  He is considered an elite Math teacher and many schools recruited him to cover their Math programs Townsand Harris and Cardozo were his latest schools.  However, due to his $100,000+ salary no school was willing to appoint him without changes to the "fair student funding" that discourages schools from hiring the best teachers for their students.

This year, the Math teacher rotated to a small high school in Central Queens and on his second day at the school was assigned to cover a class.  Unknown to the ATR, the school had a "zero tolerance" rule about student cellphone use and when one student asked the ATR if he can take a picture of him the ATR saw little problem and allowed it.  Unfortunately, at that very moment, a teacher was walking past the room and saw the student with the cellphone and told the Principal that the ATR was allowing the students to use their cellphones in class.  Rather than taking the ATR aside and telling him what the rules were, he held a disciplinary hearing and give the teacher a Letter to the File (LIF) for the alleged infraction.  That's right, a LIF for such a trivial action that really didn't even rate a counseling memo.

Because he received a LIF, the ATR automatically received a "U" rating, despite not having an unsatisfactory observation!  The undeserved "U" rating not only was an ego deflater to a teacher who in his 28 years of teaching never even had a "U" observation but hurt him monetarily as well.  You see, the Math teacher teaches Summer School and has been doing it for over two decades but because the DOE gave him a "U" rating, he could not teach summer school.  Interestingly, in a year where fewer and fewer teachers are teaching Summer School and Math programs were either cancelled or reduced due to a lack of qualified Math teachers available for the Summer, an elite teacher is excluded from teaching and help struggling students to pass and graduate.

The Math teacher will grieve the unfair "U" rating but since only 0.3% are reversed, he has already contacted a lawyer to file Article 78 charges against the DOE and while it will cost him $5,000 and time, he believes that its the only way to stop the DOE abuse of the ATRs since the union shows no interest in supporting the ATR.  I wish him well.

This is just another example of the hardships of being an ATR and why ideology is more important than what's best for the students at the DOE.


Anonymous said...

I know of two ATRs that were specifically targeted by their ATR supervisors. In one case the ATR couldn't control a horrible class. The principal called the ATR supervisor in and they tag teamed for an observation. The ATR was then charged with incompetence. In the other case the ATR was in the process of being hired but the ATR supervisor stopped it, came in and did the same thing as the first instance. The principal of Pan American HS in the Bronx has had several ATRs brought up on charges for refusing to do 4 or 5 periods in a row. Those teachers were then targeted for the entire year - several observed weekly.

Anonymous said...

61 schools going into receivership. All veteran teachers in those schools. What's going to happen to them?

Anonymous said...

In the s/u system you cam get a u for that or for even being late a few times. With all due respect this isn't a diminished due process right. It is what we always had in an s/u world.

Chaz said...

Anon 2:01

While you are theoretically correct, an appointed teacher would never of received a LIF. Moreover, it would not automatically result in a "U" rating.

Anonymous said...

Shame on that POS teacher who, instead of telling the ATR of the school policy, ran to the Principal to tattle on him. There has to be a special place in ATR hell for that person.

Anonymous said...

That's the problem with not knowing the schools culture. Some schools have the teachers using cell phones in the lesson, others strictly forbid them, etc - the teacher who went running is despicable. U rating the ATR is ridiculous - DeBlasio allowed them in.

Philip Nobile said...

If somebody asked me to name Mulgrew's least favorite saying of Jesus, I would offer, Matthew 24:40 where Jesus spread his mantle over all underdogs: "Verily I say unto you, Since you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me." But I'm open to other suggestions.

Our President does an Evening With 4E4, but shuns meeting with ATRs???

Anonymous said...

He met with E4E?! He must be getting ready to kill a scapegoat. ATRs?

Anonymous said...

This is a moral outrage. The union could not care less for the working conditions of all teachers, appointed or in excess. This is an excellent example of our union selling all teachers out. What happens to an ATR now could happen to an appointed teacher in the future. This is all interconnected. Unfortunately the membership is not able to connect the dots. We need to have each other's backs and the exact opposite happened in the situation described in the article. I hope this ATR succeeds in overturning the U.

Anonymous said...

so what happens now is the big question.

Anonymous said...

No one is saying it but DeBlasio is a complete fool and Farina is Klien in a pantsuit.

Anonymous said...

Expose the principal.