Sunday, November 22, 2009

Does the UFT Have a Strategy on the Contract?

Can they sell ATRs down the river for money?

I don't think the UFT has much of a strategy. Once the UFT got on the ed deformer train - merit pay, charter schools, high stakes testing, closing schools, acceptance of the argument that teacher quality is more important than class size or socio-economic issues, leading to end of seniority, weakened tenure, use of data to measure teachers, etc. the ed deformers are dictating and the UFT responds - defensively.

Right now the biggest issue is the ATR situation. BloomKlein can't close all the schools they want without solving that because the cost will be astounding with the constant creation of new ATRs. They could really not hire new people and force principals to keep absorbing ATRs as they are created but that is sort of going back to a semi-seniority system.

So for BloomKlein the primary issue has to be the removal of the ATR problem. For the UFT, no matter what they say, the major issue is to get money even if they have to sell off something in the contract. Giving up the ATRs would be a biggie and really weaken them with the membership.

By going to arbitration, the expected recommendation would be a compromise which the UFT could claim as an out on the ATR issue. Rush a contract with money and some future deal that is left vague and sell it to the membership with a "trust us" attitude. The press condemns BloomKlein for giving in but a year later some kind of hammer comes down.

What could the compromise be? Maybe 3 years and out. Or a buyout.

One teacher I spoke to today in a D school that could be closed is thinking that they will leave a bunch of so-called "failing" under resourced schools as holding pens for students who can't get into small schools or charters that will also serve as holding pens for ATR teachers.

In other words, gather ATRs in a few places that are very tough to teach in and make life so miserable they will take any buyout offered. Or pick them off through harassment. Think of the old 600 school concept - except for teachers and students, trapped in a death spiral of failure.

9 comments:

  1. Norm:

    I don't believe that the UFT will give in on the ATR issue, except for allowing for a buyout which is already in the previous contract.

    I do agree that the DOE will put ATRs with failing schools to force them to leave the school system.

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  2. Since the ATR issue is one of tenure, I don't think it can be included in negotiations, can it?

    I can see the UFT and Klein jointly agreeing to support a change to the tenure law in the case of ATRs, but I believe that's the most damage they can do.

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  3. I think there is a very strong danger that the ATRs will be sacrificed. Some colleagues of mine were at a recent meeting where Mulgrew was asked about the ATR situation: according to these witnesses, he blew the questioner off in a very cavalier fashion.

    While one second-hand anecdote means little, let's look at what's happening elsewhere. The New Haven contract, which is being touted as a template for future urban school system contracts, has no protections for teachers from closed or reorganized schools who cannot secure new positions. They're out unless they can find new jobs within a set time period.

    Between the pressures created by the "logic" of corporate ed deform, financial crisis, RttT, and UFT's structural/ideological inability to confront the reality of the attacks against teachers and schools, I'm not optimistic.

    However, they may be able to grandfather and/or buy out the current crop of ATRs, sacrificing all those who follow (and follow they will). This will probably be enough to pass a contract and get Mulgrew elected by the membership at large.

    Isn't that all they need? After all, they seem to be deluding themselves - or at least deceiving the membership - into believing that the union can survive if charter schools reach critical mass in the cities. That is close to happening already in DC, and is in the works in Chicago and LA. Are we in NYC so special that we're exempt?

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  4. It's difficult to know sometimes what's "cavalier". Blowing off is one interpretation. I hear it as a shortcut and a way of reiterating something one's been saying for years.
    I've been watching the ATR situation closely ever since I was one (for a year and a couple of months). I have never heard any of the UFT managers, from RW to Mendel to MM, say anything that made me think the ATRs are expendable. They speak in short, abrupt sentences all amounting to NO, not going there. Didn't MM do a form of it at the DA last week when the topic of ATRs come up? I thought he said: "They have tenure." Sounded to me like End of Story.

    (I'm sure they don't mind when ATRs leave the system on their own, having been urged in so many negative ways to retire. The UFT is not mounting the protest I would have expected by now.)

    If the managers DO change course at this point, it becomes a question of karma, and I'm happy I'm not them.

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  5. LEt me comment on 2 points:
    AT says: " can see the UFT and Klein jointly agreeing to support a change to the tenure law in the case of ATRs, but I believe that's the most damage they can do."

    And JW: Didn't MM do a form of it at the DA last week when the topic of ATRs come up? I thought he said: "They have tenure." Sounded to me like End of Story."

    Changing tenure conditions is one way around the atr issue for both Bloomklein and Mulgrew. The tenure law has already been weakened for years. Note the latest wrinkle of adding a year to some people the principal chooses. They must sign a paper agreeing to the extension or be fired immediately. The UFT tells them to sign.

    With Obama stim money being tied to loosening tenure and making it easier to get rid of people, we can see some changes coming.

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  6. Mulgrew has been very clear since contract talks began "the UFT will not budge on the ATR issue!" It will not come up in fact finding the way some have commented here--the number one reason? the DOE/City never enacted the provision for a voluntary buyout nor did they ever want to negotiate one in the last few years.

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  7. You mean we should take the UFT at its word on this issue? Follow the mantra: watch what they do, not what they say. The UFT talks big and carries a flacid stick.

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  8. It really isn't about taking the "UFT" at its word here...its about the facts--in fact finding it would be hard to make the case to "compromise" on the ATR issue if the DOE/City didn't adhere to the last contract concerning this issue.

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  9. "In other words, gather ATRs in a few places that are very tough to teach in and make life so miserable they will take any buyout offered."
    I think that this idea of gathering ATRs and placing them in a hard to teach school is happening NOW. It happened to me and two other ATRs I know. A month ago the DOE changed me from this good elementary school where I was to the worst Junior High school where I couldn't teach. The discipline problem was terrible. After complaining about this big INJUSTICE of placing me from Elementary Ed. to JH., they finally switched me to another Elementary school.

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