June 12, 2010


It's been eight years since I got trained as a chapter leader, and for the past six of them I've started wondering right about now whether my position will be cut in September.

It's no secret I'm a music teacher, and this chancellor has done many things to undermine non-core subjects for as long as he's been in office.

Back in 2003 he sacrificed them to make more room for reading and math. Then came the small schools movement, when more and more of our jobs were lost in the shuffle.

BloomKlein now says it's a question of budget, though lots of people are catching onto the fact that these guys have no problem spending big bucks on highly paid consultants, no-bid contracts, PR, and other corporate accouterments. What we have here is ideology and sociopathy, not high teacher costs.

Throughout this whole sad history of denying kids state-mandated access to life-enhancing subjects, NYC principals have always found it easy to excess teacher activists holding these jobs. Even with a great deal of seniority, your position is toast when there's only one or two of you in the building.

So here it is June, and once again I'm hearing that my principal is planning to do away with the music program at my school for next year. If I can believe the elevator gossip, it's actually already been done.

Only one thing surprises me this time: that a high school of our size, in a city with such musical talent, and in a borough that gave birth to not one but two musical genres (Italian-American doo-wop in the late 50s and hip-hop in the 70s) will probably have no full-time music teacher. They might, of course, ask other people to teach a class or two in my place. There's always an F-status person, an AP, or someone they think can wing it out of license one period a day just to make sure kids get what they need on paper to graduate.

Under this contract, as before, I'll still have my "job," whether it'll be subbing, deaning, or clerical assistance (I know, they're not supposed to give teachers clerical stuff). Needless to say that if they do start laying people off, it's unlikely the cuts will reach up to my veteran years. I'd end up bouncing someone with less seniority, even if the position is on the opposite end of a subway map.

One of the main things I'm curious about is what they'll do with a teacher like me whose position is being closed but who has more than 20 years' appointed service.
The contract doesn't allow us to be excessed:

Art.XVII.B Rule 10. Teachers at all levels who have served 20 years or longer on regular appointment shall not be excessed except for those in neighboring schools who are excessed to staff a newly organized school.

but it's obvious that two legalities butt up against each other — this rule that you can't be excessed and the ed laws placing limits on the number of classes you can teach out of license. I'd have thought some arbitration decision has already determined what's to be done with us, but no UFT person I've ever asked knows of any, even borough and special reps. In fact, all I'm hearing about is people being forced to teach lots more classes out of license than the law allows. Poor kids, poor teachers.

Of course the DoE could have us sub every day like an ATR and call us something else, like "teacher without a program." But they're supposed to give us something "comparable" to our regular program. What does "comparable" mean? Does it mean comparable to my subject, or comparable to teaching in general?

If I read Rule 10 correctly, my principal could for all I know be calling around to see what new schools in the neighborhood need a music teacher.

And it goes without saying, they could also start playing some pretty nasty games, like U's, harassment, and charges of one kind or another. Principals have not only been given the green light on all of these, but training on how to do it and legal teams to back them up.
Being reassigned puts unwanted personnel off the school's payroll in 60 days, I think. Neat.

So, I've decided to write about events as they unfold, because what happens in my case may be of interest to others in the same position. It should read like a Dickens novel, serialized and all.

For the record, at the present time I have no reason to believe I will be getting a U-rating, nor do I know of any charges against me for wrongdoing or incompetence.

I am, however, grieving a whole lot of irregularities in our recent SBOs, Circ. 6-R procedures and preference sheets, because the CL has been derelict in his duties, complicit, or self-serving. Grievances don't make anyone popular with a principal, but heck, someone has to file them when they come at us like a mack truck.

If mine starts messing with me now, wouldn't that be a coincidence.


  1. The whole DOE reorganization is a complete mess. I've been an ATR for 4 years. Where is the Union to fight for our rights?

  2. Keep on fighting and don't allow your rights to be stepped on.

    As for teaching out of license for more than 1 class, it's still up to the member to fight it. What gets to me is the fact that DoE's Division of Human Resource sent out information to principals about teaching out of license and it clearly states a teacher can only teach ONE class out of license. If a teacher is assigned to teach more than one class out of license, then he/she should make a copy of the handout and give it to the principal.

    This is taken from DoE's DHS "No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Highly Qualified Teacher Information for General Education Teachers" handout:
    Federal and state laws require all classes in core academic subjects to be assigned to teachers in their area(s) of certification unless they qualify for certification flexibility.

    What flexibility exists regarding certification and HQ?
    ·Incidental Teaching- New York State permits certified teachers to be assigned outside of their certification area for no more than 1 period per day. With this certification flexibility, teachers must demonstrate subject matter competency* in their out-of-field core subject assignment to be HQ.

  3. So helpful, Anon.
    Much more helpful than anything I've ever learned at UFT meetings.

  4. No problem UA. I have your back and I hope I can be helpful.

    See you at the next rally. The one on Thursday, at 79&5th Ave was great and I was very proud to support Peter Lamphere and his colleagues from Bx Science.

  5. This is fascinating:

    don't you agree?