Sunday, December 04, 2016
The ATR Incentive And The Problem Code.
The DOE has tried in various ways to terminate the ATRs. First, they changed the hiring and bumping rules, thanks to our UFT leadership, in the infamous 2005 contract. Next, our UFT leadership failed to challenge the DOE when they imposed the "fair student funding" formula on the schools that encouraged principals to "hire the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school. Then Tweed tried to demonize the ATRs by publicly calling them "unwanted" or "bad" teachers as Bloomberg closed 162 schools and excessed thousands of teachers into the ATR pool.. However, only the cheapest and untenured teachers were hired as the "fair student funding" formula discouraged principals from picking up the experienced teachers, especially the senior teachers who could have been role models to the influx of "newbie" teachers that the schools were hiring to fill their vacancies.
As the recession hit the schools in 2008 and deepened for the next four years, the school budgets were slashed to 78% of their fair funding. Hiring of experienced teachers was the exception not the rule. This was especially true at the Bloomberg small schools with Leadership Academy principals. Eventually, the DOE tried different half-hearted attempts to drain the ATR pool by either giving schools an incentive to hire an ATR, a buyout, or by imposing different rules on the ATRs. However, neither the carrot or stick approach in dealing with the ATR issue made any real significant impact on the ATR pool as the numbers stayed relatively constant of between 1,000 to 2,000, depending if you include ATRs assigned to provisional or leave replacement positions.
Now the DOE sees that there is a looming teacher shortage on the horizon and has already hit the Bronx. For the first time in my memory, the DOE has told Bronx schools they could hire discontinued teachers from other Boroughs. Moreover, the DOE has come up with yet another incentive for principals to hire ATRs for their school, as if their decade long demonization of ATRs had no effect on principals who have continually heard how bad these ATRs are. Except for the Bronx and some of the worst schools in the other Boroughs, the new ATR incentive has not been a success. So far only 125 ATRs have been permanently placed, many of them already provisionally placed for the year at the school. Considering there were 1,304 ATRs in rotation and approximately 500 more placed in a long-term assignment, the 125 ATRs permanently placed is a drop in the bucket.
Interestingly, and most disturbingly, I have been hearing from a numbers of ATRs telling me that they could not get a permanent position at their school they were provisionally assigned to because the principals informed them that DOE Central told them that they don't recommend hiring the ATRs because they were previously charged under section 3020-a. While principals have the sole right to hire staff, many principals still follow what DOE Central tells them and if DOE Central does not recommend hiring a teacher coming out of discipline, then why get them mad by ignoring that recommendation? Moreover, I have been told that Tweed has made two lists of ATRs. List one are for teachers who were excessed due to closing schools or downsized programs (approximately 75%) and the other who won their discipline hearings (approximately 25%). Apparently, DOE Central is telling principals not to hire from the second list.and to check the file for a problem code or as I call it a Scarlet Letter.
The UFT will claim that the ATR imitative is for all ATRs but as long as DOE Central objects to the hiring from the second list, the teachers who survived their 3020-a termination hearings will have little chance to be permanently placed unless the teacher is in a severe shortage area with no other candidates. If the DOE and UFT claim otherwise, then let them publish the statistical breakdown of the ATRs given permanent positions.