Monday, July 14, 2008

ATR links — Part II: Teacher reactions

This is the 2nd part of the compilation — what the blogs have to say — on ATR news over the past year.
For Part I, see here.
For Part III, see here.

July 20, 2007: Excessing (anon.)
Goes over the contractual stipulations on Excessing: Art.17B, rules 4-6, and 11. Also tallks about the Open Market and the instructions to the teacher about preparing a resume. Touches on all the issues that are problematic with the loss of seniority placement.

July 23, 2007: Calling All Teachers in Excess! (anon.)
Discusses “Denied a Transfer” on the UFT main site, and the following form. The union still had not called a meeting for ATRs or given any information on the numbers becoming ATRs in Sept 2007.
. . . If you've been excessed and want to be sent some information about how things are going for you, copy and paste the questions below into a new email, answer the ones that you want to answer, and send them to: You don't have to give your real name if you don't want to. The data will be compiled and you can say whether you want to be sent updates on what we're finding out.
Your real name (optional) OR a pseudonym to prevent duplication: ________
When were you excessed? Month ________ Year _____
Seniority at the end of June 07: _________________
If you're a teacher, your subject: ______________
Otherwise, your title: _______
Used the Open Market yet? Y/N _____
No. of schools applied to: _______
No. of interviews you were granted: _____
No. of interviews you attended: ______
Has the DOE tried to place you yet (as stipulated in the contract)? Y/N ______
Any factors you think make your excessing not your fault (e.g., school closing): ________________________
Any factors you think make it unlikely you'll be placed in a permanent position (e.g., politics, race; optional, but probably very important): ________
Additional comments: ________________________________________
Do you want to be contacted with updates on the statistics? Y/N ______
If so, your email address: _____________________________

July 29, 2007: UFT To Members: Seniority is No Longer an Issue Because We Eviscerated It (Jeff Kaufman)
[A good discussion on seniority, and many interesting comments.]
EXTRACT: While layoffs, in this economy, seem unlikely (at least for teachers) seniority also plays an important part in most organized sectors in work assignment. The UFT, since its inception, jealously guarded seniority in work assignments including mounting a strike to protect it.
. . . The seniority transfer system became an institutional mechanism to protect this right and while never perfectly implemented it clearly allowed some protection for senior teachers. The DOE developed ways around the seniority transfer system such as not listing all vacancies or working deals with the Union when new schools opened but on the whole the system provided a safety valve based on non-discriminatory criteria for teachers, who needed to move to another school for any reason or no reason at all.
. . . Then along came our new contract and the eradication of seniority transfer and in its place the "open market." The "open market" couldn't fly in the face of historical and fundamental union values any more. It permits the wholesale discrimination against senior and other disliked teachers, Chapter Leaders or anyone else. No longer do teachers have a union-protected work assignment right on transfer.
. . . At the time that the contract was ratified Randi and her union-paid supporters heralded the loss of the seniority transfer system as a great victory for the union. "No longer would less senior teachers be bumped" and "now all vacancies would be listed" were some of the arguments they made.
. . . After a short time it became clear that not only was the "open market" a fraud but an underclass of absent teacher reservists would give the DOE what it wanted…unfettered discretion in teacher work assignments. Teachers could be moved around the system at the whim of administrators.

July 31, 2007: What Joel Klein Really Wants (Norm Scott, UA)
I would like to comment on something the Chancellor has pushed for and what he has actually done.

One of Klein's earliest and most continuously iterated goals has been to be able to put good experienced teachers where they are needed, in the more difficult schools. His two recent initiatives, the Open Market hiring system and the way teachers will soon be paid (directly from the principal's budget), have not only hobbled his cause, but have shown him to be duplicitous.

Experienced senior teachers who indeed want to work in tough schools for a variety of reasons (the commute, the level, the challenge) have just become expensive. It is attractive for a principal to avoid calling them in for an interview, let alone hiring them.

Young teachers who spend a year or two in a difficult school are already looking to transfer out, to what they think is a better school in another district or out of New York City altogether. There is no reason for a new teacher to settle into a school with a difficult environment or one they're not happy in when adequate skills and a low salary makes them highly marketable. They'll apply to the schools with good reputations, and by gosh, they'll get those jobs.

It used to be that job vacancies were frozen until excessed teachers were placed, but the Human Resources people are no longer allowed to do this. The vacancies will be filled with new and fairly newly instructors, some of whom do not yet have a Masters. And even before these young teachers get tenure and full certification, they too will get the chance to look for and take that job in a "better" school. This is not conjecture, I already know of many examples.

The Lead Teacher program puts a few experienced teachers in difficult schools - for a salary bonus, and for only half their time teaching. That's a failure for the city's kids no matter how they spin it, and since it's a form of merit pay, it's a failure for labor, too.
. . . There is not one item in the chancellor's agenda that will put good experienced teachers in full-time teaching programs in difficult schools and make them want to stay there.

The Chancellor is a fraud, the Mayor still backs him, and it looks as if Union leadership has a different agenda than what's in our best interest. I can't believe they thought these schemes would be of any use to the profession in the long run. It's something else, and they don't want us in on it.

August 2, 2007: Do You Hear Snoring? (
Basically a rant against the DoE new guide on how to write a resume for applying in the Open Market.

August 17, 2007: The Excessed and ATR's Want to Meet (Norm Scott, anon.)
There is still no response from the Union, it feels as if they take our dues and don’t really defend . No taxation without representation! A revision to this can be found in the comments (Anon., 4:23) to the next article below.

August 27, 2007: ATR's: What's Next? (Norm Scott)
Discusses the voluntary severance package that might be offered to ATRs. (It’s a year later and severance package not yet announced.) Much more information in the comments.

September 8, 2007: The UFT Leadership and Fuzzy Contracts (anon.)
The ambiguities in Art.17B, rules 4-6 and 11, and Art. 18A.

October 04, 2005: Summary of Memorandum of Agreement (Jeff Kaufman)
ICE on the ball 3 years ago. EXTRACT: Transfers and Excessing: Eliminates seniority transfers. Senior teachers will be required to be accepted by new principal in same way as other teachers. Final decision to hire is by principal. Excessed teachers can be placed as ATR (sub) in district or superintendency (region). (This provision is inartfully drawn and may be the subject of further disagreement) Provision permitting union input in staffing new or hard to staff schools has been eliminated except for creation of personnel committee. Teachers must be notified by June 15 if they are in danger of being excessed.

November 25, 2007: The lady doth protest, but for real? (
Questions the intent and skill of Weingarten. EXTRACT: If Weingarten were playing it straight with us, she’d have been standing up publicly to this chancellor all along and not waiting for us to call, nag, email, blog, or prod her, much less expose, parse, and debunk her public explanations and excuses every time he fires off another round of abuse. After all, this is the man who has pushed children, parents and staff off the board in the devilish game of monopoly he’s been playing with his corporate buddies at the expense of public education. If Weingarten were playing it straight with us, you'd feel her support in your bones.

December 19, 2007: The Zen of being an ATR (
When you’re an ATR, some of the burden is lifted when you detach from the job in a Zen kind of way. “Detachment is the perspective that allows us to enjoy the journey of life,” and other Zen sayings.

January 05, 2008: Why Aren't ATR's Placed First Before New Teachers Are Hired?(Chaz)
EXTRACT: In the real world most companies want older and experienced workers. These workers are the most dependable and mentor the younger and inexperienced workers. Further, the experienced worker is associated with good work habits, loyalty, and trusted by the company. However, in the New York City school system the older and experienced teacher is treated with disrespect and are encouraged to retire or resign.
Too bad our union does not go to court to stop this abuse. Instead Randi and gang just talk, and talk, and talk as the DOE marginalizes the experienced teacher.

January 5, 2008: A new scare in the air ... for ATRs (
Commentary on what was heard in a rubber room, that Weingarten may not be able to do much for ATRs.

January 13, 2008: Reductivism — did we ask for this? (
EXTRACT: As I see it, Weingarten thinks of the word “job” as “the state of being employed.”
. . . Weingarten is reductive: she diminishes and curtails our profession. There are any number of conditions that don't really work for us, like cafeteria duty, staff “development” (professionals don’t need to be “developed”— they need to confer, meet, read, and chew over educational issues and school methodologies), one-size-fits-all staff development, longer days, shorter summers, and meaningless procedures to rebut untruths in the files to exemplify her long record of this kind of diminishment.
But, the wording in the explanation of tenure given on the UFT's own website is vague enough to spell no good.

February 14, 2008: What Will Really Happen to the ATR's? (Chaz)
Discusses Fair Student Funding (FSF) and how it applies to ATRs.
EXTRACT: The UFT should have immediately filed a lawsuit to protect excessed teachers and ensure that no newbie teacher can be hired in their content specialty area until all excessed teachers are placed. Instead the UFT begged the DOE to reconsider and Kleinberg appeared to throw Randi a bone by delaying the implementation of FSF for a year. Big deal, what happens after that? Many principals look long-range and don't want to add more salary. Therefore, look for the ATR crises to worsen under FSF as Randi becomes the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president.
. . . Thanks Randi for protecting the classroom teacher. With friends like you we don't need enemies.

February 18, 2008: UFT Management: on Hold or Just Plain AWOL (
EXTRACT: UFT officials need to keep us informed. They can do it any number of ways, of course, but writing to us or telling us to come down to HQ for updates and Q & A sessions spring to mind immediately. Apart from the single meeting they called a couple of months ago, these people have been mute and we've been pretty much in the dark.
. . . Unless the UFT takes some new initiative in the next couple of weeks, no one really thinks this management has the will, or the clout, to forestall any future corpocrat belligerence.

March 31, 2008: Surviving Limbo: a Handbook for ATR Subs (
EXTRACT: You'd think that the union would have figured out a way by now to give all us excessed teachers who ended up in the Absent Teacher Reserves a little support. Information, I mean. Helpful hints on how to get through the day. . . . If the union is so gung-ho on staff development (and it really is), wouldn't it have been an excellent time to give us some? It's not as if any of us ATRs got any training in how to be a sub when we went to school. We didn't student sub like we student taught.
. . . The fact is union management hasn't bothered, and I'm not all that surprised.
. . . THE ATR HANDBOOK: in 5 parts.

April 02, 2008:I Accuse the Union of Eroding Teacher Rights (Chaz)
Outlines a 12-point plan to allow teachers to teach with respect and dignity. EXTRACT: Sixth, stop allowing the DOE to hire teachers from alternative certification programs (Teach for America & Teaching Fellows programs) as well as conducting an intergalactic job fair for foreign teachers while experienced teachers are relegated to be ATR's.
. . . Eleventh, all excessed teachers must be placed before a school district would be allowed to hire a newbie teacher in that subject area.
. . . Twelfth, make the Fair Student Formula (FSF) for the schools salary blind and does not give the lower salaried teacher an advantage as it does now.

April 12, 2008: Serving at the Principal's Pleasure (
EXTRACT: In this restructured and chaotic bureaucracy they call a Department of Education, there's a remarkable shift away from the kind of balance-of-power system described by Safire towards a de facto “sole authority." Principals and superintendents will have their way with us. They're not firing people outright all that much, but empowered by Klein’s minions and a union that refuses to draw a line in the sand, they are nevertheless managing to thin the ranks.
. . . With the contract under this chancellorship rendered meaningless in so many ways, we are now all serving, whether we like it or not, at the pleasure of the principal.

April 20, 2008: The Fox and the Scorpion (Chaz)
EXTRACT: Look at all the agreements the UFT have with the DOE that were either altered, changed, or reneged on.
*The fair student funding program that according to the UFT won't penalize older and highly-paid teachers. Guess again. The DOE is already looking to eliminate that agreement. Furthermore, in anticipation of the fair student funding changes, principals are already trying to hire lower-paid newbie or young teachers.
* The seniority transfer program. The UFT's spin mister Leo Casey in Edwize told everybody that more teachers can transfer because the principals can no longer hide the open positions in the schools. What Leo Casey failed to tell us is that only the younger and lower-paid teachers were being hired under the open market transfer program. The older and highly-paid teachers were being added to the ATR ranks.
* The reduction of ATR's and "rubber room" teachers. The UFT has assured it's ATR's and "rubber room" teachers that she is working on a deal to reduce their ranks in the Fall of 2007. The result? There have been no apparent reduction in either group.

April 29, 2008: Just Say No to ReOpening the Contract, Randi (James Eterno)
EXTRACT: Since it is not April 30, 2009, there is no valid reason why the UFT should consider new Contract negotiations at this time. No mutual agreement should mean no new negotiations.
. . . Furthermore, for the City to even ask for the issue of firing Absent Teacher Reserves to be raised again is a foolhardy move that could easily be considered bad faith. The fact finding panel who made the disastrous recommendations that formed the basis for the punitive 2005 Contract agreed with the UFT on the ATR issue. Here is the actual language: "Fourth, the City/DOE has recommended that an excessed teacher who does not find a new position within 18 months of being excessed be terminated from the system. We specifically reject this proposal." Specifically rejecting a proposal is pretty strong language from arbitrators who obviously favored most of management's giveback demands such as taking away our ability to grieve letters for file, forcing us back in the cafeteria and halls, lengthening the school day and school year, weakening due process, etc.
. . . Even after the Contract expires in 2009, there would be no reason to entertain the city proposal as the Taylor law would keep our existing Contract in place until we have a new one.
. . . Additionally, civil service law would have to be altered and I don't think other unions in New York State would be eager to see a change to allow ATRs to be fired as it would set a horrible precedent.

May 01, 2008: DOE Attacks Teacher Tenure after Causing the ATR Mess (Chaz)
EXTRACT: According to the newspapers the DOE wants to either reopen or add an addendum to the 2007 contract that will allow the DOE to fire ATR's who haven't found a classroom assignment within 12 months. Even Randi Weingarten will never go for this blatant attack on teacher tenure. I believe that a line in the sand has been drawn by the UFT and cannot be crossed and that line is teacher tenure.

May 06, 2008: It's National Teacher Appreciation Day . . . as for the ATR's Job Security Be Afraid, Very Afraid (Chaz)
I was particularly disturbed that in the April 29th New York Sun article that the UFT did negotiate with the DOE on the ATR issue and apparently on the table was an ATR time limit. Thankfully, the negotiations were stalemated and hopefully no further discussions on the ATR time limit will occur. Why did the UFT even consider reopening the contract that would allow Kleinberg a second bite at the apple? That really bothers me and makes me suspicious of the motives of our union leaders. I said this previously and I will say it again. The UFT needs to draw a line in the sand and make sure the DOE cannot step across it without severe consequences.

May 11, 2008: Picking Up Where I Left Off... (UA)
Information for ATRs culled from reports and correspondence (won’t lose their job, u-ratings, per session) and some links to a brouhaha over Tim Daly’s (TNTP) comments about ATRs discussed in a number of blogs:
May 1, 2008: A Manufactured Crisis and an Attempt at a Naked Political Power Play (Leo Casey)
EXTRACT: There is no interest on the part of the DoE in diminishing the pool of unassigned teachers, of finding assignments where good teachers left without an assignment through no fault of their own can return to their life’s work. Rather, there sole interest is to manufacture a crisis which they believe they could use to win the power to fire unassigned teachers.

May 2, 2008: ATRS: How Low Can the DOE Go? (Ron Isaac)
EXTRACT: With all the gory cuts to their instructional programs and school resources imposed by the DOE’s latest round of budget slashing and burning, why would a principal hire a senior teacher instead of two novices for the same price? Therefore the displaced ATRs, among the most experienced and visionary professionals in the system are shut out and shut down. The DOE takes that as evidence that they are inept and unmotivated parasites and should all be given the bums rush. Fire them all, whoops the DOE! That would save the city 81 million dollars. It would also collapse the livelihoods and take food off the table of hundreds of perfectly innocent teachers.

May 5, 2008: Stubborn Facts, Pliable Statistics and the Manufactured Crisis of Excessed Educators (Leo Casey)
Lays out the UFT position: “the “stubborn facts” are that [the DOE has] no interest in solving the problem so long as they believe that they can use it to win the power to fire educators without due process.

May 05, 2008: UFT Officers Agree Not to Reopen the Contract on ATR Issue (James Eterno)
EXTRACT: There is no job security clause in the current 2007-2009 Contract. Article 17F is no longer about job security but instead covers a voluntary buyout for ATRs. The UFT's claim that there is "rock-solid job security" does not hold up under careful scrutiny. To put it another way, would you rather have a clause in a Contract that says you have job security or have the UFT leadership tell you that you have job security?
. . . The next two whereas clauses in the new ATR resolution state that the Department of Education has consistently in bargaining tried to fire the ATRs but they are constantly rebuffed. This is true. The problem is the UFT created this problem by agreeing to patronage hiring and transfers, i.e. the open market. The 2005 Contract ended preferred placement for teachers who are excessed if a school is closed. It also stopped placement in a vacancy if someone is in excess because they were the junior person in a license within a school. The UFT agreed to insert the words "unless a principal denies placement" into the Contract to give principals a veto over any staffing decision. The UFT accepted the "imperial principal" concept for hiring and now they are surprised to find the DOE is pushing strongly to eliminate the last vestiges of the civil service style personnel system: who can be terminated. To put it another way, we gave away the hiring and transfer system so why would anyone be shocked that DOE wants complete control of the firing system too? (Weakened due process fits in here as well but that's another article.)

May 6, 2008: The New Teacher Project Responds (Leo Casey)
He posts the response of Tim Daly (who heads The New Teacher Project) to the blog he had written earlier the same day.

May 6, 2008: More Stubborn Facts: a Response To The New Teacher Project’s Tim Daly (Leo Casey)
EXTRACT: Why have the DoE and TNTP spent the last weeks trumpeting to all who will listen a cost that the author of its own analysis now concurs was misleading?

May 6, 2008: Mayor Mike's Kinfolk Issue a Report (NYC Educator)
Talks a lot about New Teacher Project and their nefarious mission to obfuscate statistics and do the Chancellor’s bidding.

May 7, 2008: Joel Klein Blames Idle Teachers for $4 Gas, Subprime Crisis (Eduwonkette)
Recommends a third party study to address the suspect anaylsis.

May 8, 2008: UFT: Tweed created job barriers for ATRs (Michael Spielman, UFT)
[On the New Teacher Project:] a nonprofit organization that has millions of dollars of contracts with the DOE, runs the city’s Teaching Fellows program and manages Hiring Internal Support Centers for the DOE.

May 8, 2008: The New Teacher Project (Norm Scott)
Slightly tangential, but lists all the people involved in running the NY Teaching Fellows program. Lots of outgoing bucks there.

May 11, 2008: Watch What They Do, Not What They Say… (Leo Casey)
He says that at least one school is posting an ATR position, which just shows to go you how topsy-turvy the world is for ATRs.

May 15, 2008: May D.A. Report (James Eterno)
EXTRACT: Randi said she would not negotiate on firing the ATR’s but she added that it is now a national issue because of Chicago and Klein protégée Michele Rhee who now is running Washington DC schools and trying to fire excessed teachers after schools close. Randi then talked about how Rhee headed the New Teacher Project so she dismissed their report that was recently released that said excessed teachers should be fired after a year.
. . . If I heard correctly, Randi also admitted that she wanted the ATR provision in the Contract because it would end bumping of junior teachers but she claimed she warned Klein that this would happen. She also said that the UFT argued that excessed teachers who want a job should all be hired before new teachers are allowed to be placed. We also heard once again about how the open market system (principals in charge of all hiring with no check on their authority) is wonderful. Bottom line: the Contract is closed. ATR’s can stay in the system as long as they want and not be fired without due process. Let’s move on.

May 16, 2008: The Principal, The Budget, The "Rubber Room", The ATRs, and the 2005 Contract (Chaz)
EXTRACT: The ATRs: The explosion of ATRs in the last couple of years can be laid at the doorstep of the DOE and their policy of encouraging Principals to hire lower-paid and inexperience teachers at the expense of the veteran teacher. The DOE policy of closing schools and excessing these teachers added to the ATR crisis. In fact, the DOE has a new teacher job fair before an ATR job fair is scheduled. The ATR problem has resulted in the UFT to file an age discrimination lawsuit since many of the ATRs are 50 years old or older.
. . . The UFT should stop negotiating with the Kleinberg administration and prepare strategies with the next administration for eliminating the "rubber room" and ATR issues. In addition, the reinstatement of the "Seniority Transfer System" and adjusting the "fair student funding" formula should be a top prority. Finally, I would prepare a hard-hitting media blitz on how the Kleinberg administration has put children last based upon class size , teacher turnover, overcrowded schools, and flat test scores and call it the DOE'S "Children Last Program."

May 17, 2008: ATRs and Other Expunged Teachers: Union-Busting to the Max (
It’s much more than big salaries that the DoE doesn’t want. “If we don't get to keep our senior voices and fighters, it'll be under Weingarten's watch that the union's been busted.”

May 31, 2008: The Open Market System - Are All the Vacancies Being Posted? (Chaz)
EXTRACT: The "Open Market Transfer System" was touted by the UFT spin mister Leo Casey in Edwize last year showing how well it worked in the first year of operation. Of course it was quite obvious that even using Leo's suspect statistics you can see that senior teachers had more trouble transferring than new teachers. In fact, according to Leo Casey's statistics there were 1,202 teachers who transferred with less than five years of experience in 2005 (there were only 31 teachers who transferred in this experience group under the old system) compared to only 163 senior teachers with twenty or more years of experience. Note, this is for 2006, before the "fair student funding" program and the school budget cuts which will further limit senior teachers from changing schools. I would like to see the 2007 statistics Leo, where are they? Did you forget to post them like you did last May? What is even more worrisome is that the UFT knew that senior teachers would have a tough time finding a new school and agreed to it anyway.

June 14, 2008:Senior ATRs and a Long, Hot Summer (
Faults in the Open Market online application system. EXTRACT: The way I see it, there’s only one way for a senior ATR to handle all this. Go online and apply to whatever. Then make yourself a gin-and-tonic, put your feet up, and relax. Nothing will happen with your application. You’ll be subbing back at your old school or somewhere else until you put in for retirement — or until KleinWorld devises another way to push you out of your job.

June 23, 2008: The Experienced Teacher — an Endangered Species (Chaz)
EXTRACT: Tweed's crusade against the experienced teacher is moving full steam ahead as it appears that more teachers will be retiring or resigning from the New York City Public School system than ever before.
. . . Tweed cannot be happier about how their recruitment over retention policy is succeeding beyond expectations. Teachers have to wait to November before they can even get an appointment for a pension consultation. Further, many talented and experienced teachers are now ATRs and many other experienced teachers find themselves in the "rubber room" for minor, frivolous, and false allegations.

July 6, 2008: ATR Links — Part I: What the Union Has to Say (UA)
This is a compilation of some of the many posts, comments, letters, and statements relating to the ATR debacle that have been published on the web in the past year. It's meant to be comprehensive, but not complete.
. . . The links in this first part point to the UFT’s website (, which has ATR info in Know Your Rights posts, Q & A's, bits from the NY Teacher, letters, and messages from Weingarten and other execs. The paragraphs below each link are extracted from the full articles.

July 11, 2008: Who's gonna pay for this year's ATRs? (UA)
DoE memorandum No. 33 FY09 in full showing how ATRs will be funded in the coming school year with some further clarifications in the comments. Interesting sentence in the memo: "Principals are reminded that excessing is not a permissible way to deal with unsatisfactory teachers."

1 comment:

Chaz said...

Great post, putting it all together about the ATR crisis.

There still is some confusion on who pays when the ATRs are sent to another school.