Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thirteen New ATRs at John Dewey HS

Yesterday, teachers at Dewey, based in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, were told that 13 people would be excessed as of Feb. 1. This is only the tip of the iceberg of what is to come. Thus, the massive creation of Absentee Teacher Reserves (ATRs) continues.

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The UFT will do little unless forced. ICE has formed an ATR/School Closing committee (ASC-ICE-UFT) to address these issues and is working with the Ad Hoc ATR committee to create pressure on the union. One of our goals is to get the UFT to take a stand against closing schools - no, not by passing a useless motion at a Delegate Assembly, but to hold rallies and pressure politicians and educators, especially in the closing schools' districts, to support us. We have been in touch with teachers at some of the announced closing schools with the idea of holding a meeting so they can take action together. We are meeting on Wed. Feb 4 at 5PM the Skyline Diner on 34th St. and 9th Ave. Join us. There is also a listserve you can join. Email asc.ice.uft@gmail.com.



Back to our announcer

Those of us who remember the NYC budget crisis of 1975/76 (15,000 layoffs) can testify to the long-term negative impact of the cuts to come. Teachers were given the choice by the city and the UFT of tossing a good deal of the contract in the garbage - rising class sizes, cuts in preps, frozen salaries, closing schools, and more – in order to prevent more chaos. The UFT's Al Shanker even loaned the city part of the teacher pension funds to help with the bailout. Sort of like holding the knives while they cut your limbs off.

In 1975, there was a seniority system in place that, while wrenching, at least provided an orderly procedure. Thus career teachers of, say, 10 years, would not be facing the prospect of seeing first year teachers who are 50% likely to leave within a few years (maybe tempered this time by the lack of jobs anywhere) in their places.

We assume that at least the seniority rules are still being followed in each license area, but who knows for sure? Some ATRs will remain at the school doing day-to-day sub work and at some point, some will be moved out to other schools. In the pre-Klein era, there would a system-wide procedure for placing them into other schools based on seniority.

This orderly seniority placement system, much vilified by Randi Weingarten and Joel Klein, has been replaced by the Open Market system, which throws many veteran teachers on the mercy of the whim of principals, many with little experience in education.

While on the surface, the old system of bumping seemed inefficient, in fact it bought stability to the system. The anti-teacher market-based ed reformers, unfortunately joined by the UFT, have used the seniority system as the whipping boy for failures in education. But there is not one iota of data, in the world of data munchers, to show this is true.

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Before going on in defense of the seniority system which will open Ed Notes up to attacks as being an old "the union is right at any cost" troglodyte, I want to point out that I have been urging reform of the education system and the UFT since 1970. Believe me, I saw some of the evils of seniority up close and personal, but given the alternatives, I feel it still works out best for schools and, yes, even students, over the long haul. It seems to work in Scarsdale and other top performing school systems in Long Island and we don't hear too many complaints.

Back to our program
Human capital in the sense of dislocation and fear among teachers is not conducive to good teaching or learning. I don't know why people think having teachers constantly on edge builds good learning environments. From personal experience, no matter how much I tried to hide it when I was anxious, it would seep into the classroom. Maybe just a bit less patience with a student's behavior. Maybe a little more time in reacting before doing something stupid that would lose a student forever when I was relaxed.

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A friend who once came to my class, said I was the most relaxed teacher she has ever seen. She must have caught me on a really good day. But I always was conscious of how much more effective I was when I was feeling good about things. Luckily, I am a fairly optimistic person and always felt free to let my instincts work, especially when it came to dealing with behavior issues, always using humor where possible to deflect issues. And to a great extent it worked. I can't imagine succeeding in a time when nothing is funny.

Concluding...
The UFT will advise these brand new ATRs of their right to remain silent and will hold workshop sessions teaching them how to write resumes, how to dress for success and how to apply makeup.

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Help pass out the ASC-ICE leaflet in your schools. If you can't download it, email me and I'll send you a pdf. Remember. Everyone is a potential ATR. Ich Bin Ein ATR. No one is exempt. ACT NOW TO DEFEND YOUR RIGHTS, WHATEVER RIGHTS YOU STILL HAVE .

Download the ASC-ICE flyer.

Related
The Ad Hoc ATR committee is doing important work by focusing on monitoring the recent UFT/DOE ATR agreement, handing out a survey to schools. See a report of their last meeting and their survey at Norms Notes.

LAUSD board votes to possibly lay off 2,300 teachers

4 comments:

  1. A couple of ATR's I know went to some meeting last week and were insulted by the flyer telling them how to interview. I thought the UFT was a labor union theoretically working for its members, not an employment agency advising those out of the work force for a while. What pablum!! How unprofessional!!

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  2. Hi Ms. T
    Yes, many were insulted. 3 ICE people there to give them our leaflet urging them to organize a force within the UFT. The UFT believes in collaboration, and so they do as they say, assisting the DOE in their machinations.

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  3. “A friend who once came to my class, said I was the most relaxed teacher she has ever seen. She must have caught me on a really good day. But I always was conscious of how much more effective I was when I was feeling good about things. Luckily, I am a fairly optimistic person and always felt free to let my instincts work, especially when it came to dealing with behavior issues, always using humor where possible to deflect issues. And to a great extent it worked. I can't imagine succeeding in a time when nothing is funny.“

    Truth is that without humor, creativity, independence, a relaxed attitude, and self esteem many if not most live each day in misery whether or not they say so. Bear in mind that the kind of atmosphere that encourages this will never happen under the likes of the so-called corporate-ed-reformers. They want to be in control. It’s hard to control people who are funny, relaxed, creative, independent, and have self esteem.

    That goes for the students just as much as the teachers.

    Realized something the other day: The rigid format of the workshop model used where I teach does not indicate that one is to spend any time to motivate the lesson. Essentially it has been omitted; new teachers don’t even know that it can be very helpful in practice. I believe that there is this underlying, unspoken misunderstanding that teaching and learning is supposed to be nothing but test prep and test, and since everyone simply has to be on the same page, why bother with a motivation. A really great educational reform, eh? NOT!


    Mark Twain’s “Never let your schooling get in the way of your education“ has never been truer. We have to live this and communicate this to our students.

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  4. Lay offs ? Hopefully we'll see that Public Education bail out ! It's on the Obama list !

    ReplyDelete

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