June 14, 2008

Senior ATRs and a long, hot summer

Having never received a response from any of the 11 schools I applied to last spring through the DoE’s Open Market Hiring System, or even from the computer itself, I was startled to receive a response from one of the schools I applied to this year.

That’s not to say I got an interview there. Far from it.

What I did get, which shows they’ve actually tweaked the system a bit this year down at the DoE, is a letter telling me that the vacancy no longer exists, that it’s either been filled or removed from the school’s budget. I guess you could call this progress, that something was trying to communicate with me, if only a machine.

Also new this year is an acknowledgment you’re sent for each school you’ve applied to. Here's what one looks like, with the specifics redacted.

Dear Open Market Applicant:

Thank you very much for submitting your application to our school through the Open Market Hiring System. This email is being sent to you to confirm that your Open Market application has been received by the following school:

99 X999 – Name of School

Please note that you may be contacted directly at a later date if further information is required from you or you are being invited for an interview. Also, please note that an email notification also would be sent to you in the event that another candidate has been selected for an opening at our school. You may continue to submit applications to other schools in the Open Market Hiring System through August 7, 2008.

Thank you very much for your interest in our school.

Yours truly,


Notice it's signed by the Principal, but think about that for a moment.

We know that the Open Market computers have received our applications, ergo this form letter, but we don’t really know if the school itself ever received a darn thing. This letter is not, after all, coming from any flesh-and-blood principal: 11 of them would hardly be in a position to acknowledge the receipt of my 11 online applications immediately and all at the same time. In other words, an electronic fabrication, and we trust this letter and this application process about as much as we trust anything else this chancellor puts out, which amounts to zip.

When I went online a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t get the Open Market computers to accept my new cover letter or provide a place to insert my additional school choices, I guessed the system was actually down. There was a red alert message running the width of the screen that told me to try again later. Depressingly, it managed to contain one spelling error (guys, it’s “retrieve,” not “retreive”) and one grammatical error (“sometime” is not interchangeable with “some time,” two words).

It’s possible, by the way, that the text on the Open Market computers is being handled by the same kinds of proofreaders (newbies or grad students perhaps, people who don't cost too much) that they got to vet an exam the kids took this week. Published by McGraw-Hill, the DoE's partner in the New Order's test industry (see Acuity, but with more perspective at the Huffington Post), the exam had a word missing in the opening section. A citation was missing, too, which we knew should have been there because the directions told students to make sure they didn’t overlook it. But, you don’t want to know about all that. Honestly, it would make you ill.
That's what I wrote yesterday. This afternoon, The Chancellor's put up some shocking examples of how McGraw-Hill masticates written English. It'll make you really angry, I warn you, but you have to understand the magnitude of what Klein's been doing in the name of educational reform.

I was also pretty fascinated to discover that a school in the vacancy list that had caught my eye didn't even exist. Nothing but the name was coming up through the school search screen, and a Google search or two reported a budget of $0, but not much else. Why the computer is even listing it is beyond me, and it wasn't the only phantom school showing up in my search.

I don’t think I'm surprised by anything the DoE does anymore. It’s run by a chop-chop businessman, not an educator, someone who’s busy supplanting long-term educators with uncertified grad students, mostly self-professed transients. A rank amateur at promoting scholarship — obviously — he tolerates a level of shoddiness in computer systems, reorganizations, tests and just about everything else he designs that has made our jaws just drop.

If I could talk to the DoE computers, I’d be asking them all kinds of other questions, like these, for example:

I hear principals hold back some positions for the job fairs. When they do, are they holding back just the computer posting or hiding the job altogether, computer or otherwise?

Is it OK for a them not to post a vacancy? If they're holding back vacancies from the Open Market computers, does the DoE know about it? Does it condone this practice? Encourage it? Care?

Can a principal be fined for hiding vacancies and/or creating other kinds of obstacles for job-seekers, particular senior educators?

What does the principal see when he gets your application? Your step? Salary? Age? How much does he have to infer from your resume, and how much is the computer supplying for them in automatically calculated fields?

Why doesn’t the system allow me to upload a formatted resume and cover letter? Doesn't the DoE assume that people with advanced degrees have these documents ready to go, all formatted? Unless someone advises me I'm encountering a Mac problem or there are some upload or format buttons I’ve overlooked, the DoE computers knock out style. You have to re-format your documents in the simplest kind of plaintext to make them readable. What a waste of time, and so easy to design right.

Does the Open Market close down the computers at a specific time during the week for maintenance? If so, when is that, so I can save myself the frustration of multiple fruitless attempts to get it to work?

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.


  1. You are completely right. In my school there were openings and were given to the administration's friends and family. They forgot to put the following sign: "NO OPENINGS FOR ATRS". I also applied to the Open Market and got the same computer response " from the computer principal". My next move is to go to the Marriot on June 18,2008 for the JOB FAIR. I know it will be another FIASCO or GLIMICK.

  2. Are they hiding openings? That would be interesting, as a big argument from the UFT aristocracy is that they can no longer do that. Never mind that for many teachers, there's virtually no chance of getting jobs at all, regardless of how good they may be.

  3. I believe they are hiding jobs. People have told me that they found only a relatively few listings in a license for a whole borough.

    I checked just now, and for my subject in the arts, there are 17 jobs CITYWIDE -- and that's for ALL levels (ES, MS, HS) and discounting the 2 that do not exist. Thus:

    Manhattan: 6
    Bronx: 6
    Brooklyn: 2 (hard to believe)
    Queens: 2 (ditto)
    SI: 1

    Maybe it's the case for Bronx and Manhattan, who knows, but B'klyn and Queens is really slim pickings.

  4. Woodlass:

    Didn't the great Leo Casey of the UFT write in Edwize how successful the "Open Market System" is? Yeah right, and I am the tooth fairy.

    I also wrote about how jobs are "hidden" on my blog on May 31sy.

  5. Woodlass:

    I thought it best that I respond to what you wrote on my blog about the ATRs. You are right I deplore the ATR situation and I am sorry that there was a misunderstanding.

    First, there should be no ATRs in the system. All excessed teachers should be placed in their subject area before new teachers can be hired. I was trying to point out that presently ATRs are on the DOE (not the school's) payroll and can be sent to another school in their district/Region.

    Second, I was also trying to point out how much money the DOE is wasting by not putting these experienced and talented teachers back into the classroom where they belong.

    I think that the ATE=R crisis is a disgrace and needs to be eliminated.

  6. Here's the link to Chaz's blog on hidden vacancies to make it easier to get to.

    Chaz: I knew your comment wasn't coming out the way you meant it, but it's good to have your further clarification. One thing I have been told many times at the highest levels in the union: ATRs are on the school's budget if their program was cut, and paid out of Central when they shut the whole school down. They stay in that financial arrangement until they get another job (unless of course they the district puts them subbing in another school: I don't know who pays then, the new school or Central). And then of course if they go to the rubber room, they come off the school's budget in 60 days, which I've talked about before and suspect will be the next part of their campaign against senior teachers.

  7. Well said "the ATRS crisis is a disgrace.." meanwhile the DOE is still getting teachers from OHIO and other states. What is Randy doing?

  8. Woodlass: In my school the ATRs are taken off the school budget while still in the school. Otherwise, why have ATRs? Further, it is my understanding that the District can switch the ATR to another school if there are too many in one school but not enough in another school.

    By the way, do you really trust the union to tell you the truth? I don't.

  9. Chaz: It was one of the special reps ( salary $124,807) who described which budget the ATRs are paid from, and I believe a district rep or two said the same thing. Do I think some of these people lie? Couldn't say. I have no reason not to believe them, it sounds reasonable.

    I certainly know that the ATR can be switched to another school, but that should happen only once. ATRs are not, as far as I know being oscillated between sites.

    PS: Is there any way to contact you? I was looking for on your blog for an email address but couldn't find any.