It's teacher hunting season!

Monday, October 12, 2009

TJC's flyer on the UFT, the ATR crisis and the mayoral election

The Teachers for a Just Contract has been doing good work as a caucus competing with the Unity Caucus which dominates officer positions in the United Federation of Teachers. They (along with ICE) have a competing candidate (James Eterno) for UFT president in next year's UFT president election.

They have offered serious critical analysis of New York City's Absent Teacher Reserve ("ATR") crisis, which the Unity Caucus conceded to with the 2005 contract. Before we share the TJC flyer on the UFT and the ATR crisis, let's discuss the ATR issue. The 2005 contract gave away seniority transfer rights. This was a dream-come-true for the city, for the city could pursue its ageist (or at long employment service)-cleansing of the teacher ranks. With the closing down and breaking apart of schools, the Department of Education was able to eliminate the people that it considered bad: the veteran teachers. The city not only preferred younger, cheaper teachers, it castigated the thoughts, teaching methods and energy of veteran teachers as out-of-date, old-school, un-progressive, worn, tired and so on.
The teachers that seemed too expensive or out of sync with the new ideas of pedagogy were rejected in the new pools of teachers in the restructured schools. The rejected teachers became the ATRs. Thus, the ATR scheme worked hand in glove with the restructuring of schools.

The buzz on the web is that scorned teachers should alert the local chapter leader and petition for placement on the school's teacher rolls. This is a trap, for while the ATR teacher would be getting a bona fide position and would be on the good side of Joel Klein and media-fed public opinion, the ATR teacher that secured the teaching position would be on the principal's bad side from the start. The principal would have a potential grudge against the teacher: the principal would see the ATR as forced on him/her, as dislodging her choice for a newer, "fresher-thinking" teacher. And the older ATR teacher could find him/herself the target of principal wrath with letters-in-the-file, negative observations and the like.
Here is where the top-down power and a top-down strategy is safer: the union could demand an audit of the schools. The union, the city, the chancellor have put a public face that the ATRs must be placed, and that there must be a freeze on the outside hires.
Yet, we all know that the reality is that the principals (particularly those trained in the Leadership Academy), inculcated with seven years of Klein-driven anti-established teacher thought, have been hiring novice teachers, ahead of ATR teachers, often at schools where there are seasoned (ATR) veterans in the same license area that are working at office-work assignments instead of teaching actual classes.
Let's see if Interim Acting United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew has the moxie. Will he force an audit of the DoE's hiring patterns; will he force the placement of the seasoned veteran ATR teachers, or will he ignore the issue and let the city take the initiative?

HERE IS THE TJC FLYER ON THE UFT AND THE ATR CRISIS, which touches on the union's neutrality in the mayoral race.

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