Friday, August 28, 2009

ATR Problem Revisited

Under Assault was an ATR until she won her grievance and had to be reinstated to. Her year and a half as an ATR has been wiped out and her record shows continuous service.

If the principals involved and the DOE had their way, she would be one of the teachers Klein is talking about getting rid of, one of the ones Chaz recently wrote about.

I met one of Under Assault's students on my cruise. We shared a dinner table and after a few minutes I found out that this young lady lived in a development I knew well and attended the local high school. I decided to do a little investigating and asked this high school girl if she knew Ms. Under Assault. Here is her response. I wish I had my camera going so I could publish her exact words.

Ms. Under Assault is the most amazing teacher I have ever had. She was so passionate about her subject. She taught with enthusiasm. She really knew her material. I am going to miss her so much. (This girl just graduated.)

Under Assault, like many ATRs had not been getting interviews and job offers. If she had not been reinstated, she would be facing another year as a teacher without a classroom. Her "homelessness" would have had nothing to do with her ability as a teacher or her search for a job.

There are too many ATRs like Under Assault out there. One of the ATRs I know well has gone on a ton of interviews with no success (and she has a wonderful resume and wonderful recommendations. All her ratings are S.) Something must be done to get these teachers back in the classroom where they belong.


Rachel Grynberg said...

Some of the best teachers I know are about to become ATR's or are already. It's a nightmare and a mark of shame on our country.

ed notes online said...

Make sure to let Under Assault know about this post as she is travelling now and may miss it.

burntoutteacher said...

I was an ATR for several months as my big high school was closed last year. Even though I liked the school I was assigned to as an ATR, and the principal said that she would hire me as soon as an opening occurred in my license, I tried to "do the right thing" and screwed myself over. I took a job at a troubled school despite my inner gut saying that the principal is a tyrant and the AP hiring me had no job security. Sure enough, within a few days I KNEW I had made a mistake. The principal made some snide comment about how he should never have hired an older teacher, and the trouble escalated from that point. In my 20 years at the big, now defunct high school, under three different principals and three different AP's, I had nothing but letters of praise and glorious observations in my file. A few months at the school from hell and I have 2 letters of reprimand and a clear threat that this year, if I don't get a transfer, I will get a U rating. The union has been useless (there is NO contract in this school -- walk through the doors and you have no rights) and of course I was unable to transfer out. Hell, I wasn't even able to score a single interview this summer. I even tried to get a seniority excessing but was denied by the principal (grievance pending).I used to love my job. I was a mentor, taught student teachers, developed curricula, ran pd, etc. Now I a mere shell of a human being. George Orwell wrote that (I paraphrase here) "to destroy a man you have only to make his job useless." I am destroyed. And I also fear that if the Kleinbloom machine decides to offer a buyout to ATR's, I will be ineligible. I can't teach, I can't transfer, I can't retire, I can't quit. What an ignoble end to what was once a glorious career.

Anonymous said...

You should also see today's NYCEducator's post on how principals are getting away with following the new ATR mandate.

I hope ATRs learn a lesson from the above comment. If as an ATR you are assigned to a school where the principal respects you, stay there unless you know for a fact you are offered a good school and the principal is supportive. IMHO I would rather be respected as an ATR with a possibility of employment because the odds of finding a job where a principal was pressured into hiring you and punishes you.

mathmom said...

I think that this is a symptom of a system that is too rigidly unionized. A school can't get rid of mediocre teachers and replace them with outstanding ATRs. And because people must be paid according to a scale with no room for negotiation, sometimes an experienced teacher will be "too expensive" to get another job if they need to. Excellent teachers should be rewarded with the best jobs, best benefits, etc. Mediocre teachers should be able to be fired in favor of hiring someone better, if someone better is available. But the unions will never let that happen.

Pissedoffteacher said...

Bad teachers can be gotten rid of. It just takes lots of work and admins in the past were not able to do that. It is not fair to blame the unions. Look at all the teachers sitting in the rubber room. Many are there because of incompetent and threatened principals. Unions are needed to protect these teachers.

Schools don't need to get rid of teachers to hire ATRs. They need to fill the vacancies that exist with these teachers. These teachers have worked hard and long to earn the salaries they are getting. The fair funding is what made them too expensive and that should be too bad. The city is paying their salaries regardless of where they work so there should be a way to get them back in the classroom.

It is not fair or even correct to blame the current problems on mediocre teachers and their protection by the union.

Klein has got to force principals to hire ATRs for current vacancies.

mathmom said...

Klein has got to force principals to hire ATRs for current vacancies.

I wouldn't want a job where my boss had been forced to hire me!

Instead of forcing anyone to do anything, how can he make it worth a principal's while? If he's paying the ATRs not to teach, maybe they continue to pay part of the ATR's salary when they get hired, and suddenly schools can get an experienced teacher at a bargain price...

Schoolgal said...

Klein is now offering to pay for part of the salary for 8 years.

As for principals being forced to hire...there was a time when the Bd of Ed appointed teachers to schools w/o approval from the principal. And many good teachers got jobs this way.

It was, and still up to the principal to evaluate a teacher for 3 years and decide if a teacher should be granted tenure.
But many principals did not follow through and used paperwork as an excuse. Critics seem to think there is a high percentage of bad teachers out there. I highly doubt that.

As the NYTimes reported today, ATRs who attend job fairs are being met with resistance. A teacher's resume and experience means nothing to the close minded.

Pissedoffteacher said...

Aside from money, principals don't want teachers that ask "why?" when told to jump instead of "how high?"

This has always been a problem, even before the fair funding. Principals used to try and hide openings. Of course, they could not do this all the time.

As for working where you are not wanted, when you need a paycheck, you do what you have to do. The principals don't own the schools.

mathmom said...

If the ATR is being paid even if they don't teach, then why do they need to take a job where they are not wanted because they "need a paycheck". I know that it stinks not having a real job, but I don't think I'd be desperate to take a job in a hostile environment.

mathman42 said...

ATR solution should be # 1 priority in any new contract. A real teacher wants to make a difference, not be a glorified sub. Thre has to be some formula, either of reimbursements, or like for every three new teachers hired, the next has to be an ATR. The ATR is treated like TAR or RAT.

Pissedoffteacher said...

ATRs are not being offered jobs so a hostile atmosphere is not the issue.

Klein is claiming that ATRs who can't find a job either are not looking or are not good and should be terminated in a year.

This is the problem--aside from the morale and psychological issues.

Being an ATR is demoralizing. It is not the way to end a career you have worked hard and done well with.

Under Assault said...

Thanks for the post!! (though I'm coming to it late because I'm still traveling.)

A couple of things.
Mathmom: It's not that Klein is paying ATRs "not to teach." Most or all of the ATRs I've spoken with are very much teaching or doing teacher duties.

As I see it, what Klein is paying them for on full salary is: (a) day-to-day subbing, (b) long-term subbing, (c) taking split positions, and (d) doing onerous admin duties (like cafeteria, hallways, etc.). They're working out so well in some of these capacities that retired teachers hoping for per diem sub work to augment their sometimes flimsy pensions don't get nearly as much as they used to, or need.

Schoolgal: You probably know this, but I always try to make it clear when people write about the incentives to hire ATRs. That side agreement (which reimburses the principal if he agrees to hire someone straight out) only covers ATRs paid for by Central. If your position but not your whole school is being closed, you stay on the school's budget and there's no incentive whatsoever for any principal to absorb you, particularly if your salary is on the higher side and you have tenure.

This whole ATR thing is part of a well thought out political strategy to change public education. The people who are running the system will lie, distort scores, graduation rates and school quality, undermine the union, and pay enormous PR expenses to sell their agenda.

In this climate, I agree so much with you, PO. Teachers "stuck" as ATRs do what they can not only to keep a paycheck, but also to continue working in their skill set — which they've spent big bucks to acquire (in grad school to get the degrees and certification) and many years in classrooms mastering.