Sunday, May 31, 2015

ATR James Eterno Elected Delegate from Middle College HS; Why are there ATRS at all?

James' election by a staff that probably had little knowledge of the ATR situation until James arrived, is a significant breakthrough. James proved to his colleagues in every school he was sent to that the vision being promoted about ATRS - as incompetent - and worse - was false.
Having James Eterno back at the DA, along with his pal Arthur Goldstein reporting back is a win-win for us all.

Before I get to the story about James' election as delegate to a school that he probably won't be in this fall, I want to comment on the general ATR situation.

That James Eterno has not been snapped up by schools all over the city is a testament to the disaster the ATR/Open market/end of seniority. The 2005 contract opened the door to massive ed deform once the DOE was freed from having to assign people based on seniority, a system with some flaws, but one that worked, on the whole. Having a thousand or more people floating around the system year after year is a form of insanity.

The essence of the problem to me is the free market approach to education. In that world no principal should ever be forced to accept a teacher they don't want - even if the principal is nuts, or racist or whatever - the principal is king (or queen) and the teacher is mud.

Now we know that BloomKlein wanted to just fire people after 6 months or a year but that would have sunk the 2005 contract, which despite massive publicity, the opposition managed to get almost 40% to vote NO. So BloomKlein knew that had a basic winner in that contract and were willing to take on the costs of maintaining an ATR system as a loss leader- figuring that over time they would get the rest of what they wanted. I believe, the UFT seeing what happened in Chicago where the firing of teachers outright was a key element in overturning that union leadership, realized that they couldn't afford the political price of firing people. So instead, the UFT has worked with the DOE - with a wink and nod - to try to marginalize the ATRs and separate them from the rest of the members to the point where they would just turn their backs on them - figuring it would never happen to them (most don't seem to see the charter school tsunami coming).

Thus, James' election by a staff that probably had little knowledge of the ATR situation until James arrived, is a significant breakthrough. James proved to his colleagues in every school he was sent to that the vision being promoted about ATRS - as incompetent - and worse - was false.

Most massive organized systems like the DOE - have some formats that assign people to other positions when jobs disappear - and in the DOE, often intentionally disappeared. I remember the day that a young black man was assigned to our school by the district to teach special ed. We had no black male teachers in our school - in fact, I don't think we had ever had one. Looked like a win-win for us. My principal, who I suspected - due to upbringing and political views - had biased views on race - sent him back to the district - she didn't want him. The district sent him back to the school. She sent him back to the district - they sent him back a 3rd time -- I remember him sitting on the bench outside the office. I asked him what was going on - he shrugged. In the end, the principal had to accept him and he became an integral part of our staff one of the most popular people in our school. The thought has never left me that the only reason the principal kept sending him back was that he was a black man. In later years when we became friendly he seemed to agree -- but he was accepting of that as the way the world worked.

I tell this story because of the seeming horror whenever we suggest that excess people should be permanently assigned to schools, the way it was done for almost a century in this school system.

Here is James' story on the ICE blog of his election. He has told me that there are some amazing colleagues at his school who went very far towards helping him get elected. Kudos to them.




  1. James Eterno is the best, not one of the best, the best Social Studies teacher I have had the pleasure to work with. Most every student raved about his teacher ability and many of my students counted themselves lucky to have him as a teacher.

    Yet, in the Open Market, James couldn't even get an interview, despite applying to over ten vacancies. That tells you how the "fair student funding" keeps experienced ATRs from getting a permanent position.

  2. It's wonderful that this school understood that they had a rock star on their hands. Even if the principal didn't, it sounds like the teachers knew exactly who James was and I think that proves not all teachers are living under a rock!!

  3. The disgrace is that there are many, many great teachers in the ATR pool. They are all treated with the presumption that they are incompetent malcontents. Every month we have to pay our dues (literally and figuratively) to prove everyone wrong. What's our reward? Do it all over again next month. Eterno is great guy and should be the UFT president, but instead he's a f--king ATR just like me.

  4. The powers that be find it necessary to continue their worship at the alter of the young and inexperienced.

    Abigail Shure

  5. After almost 15 years as a NYC DOE Teacher...excessed and thrown into the ATR pool. I am so done with this. I am lost. Losing my mind, health and family. To start all over without consistency ... I can't afford the extra stress. I have one son with autism to boot... Not knowing where I'm going in September is not fair!!!!!! Tenured, common branches... I might just retire and start a new career. My sanity is worth more than this... Advice?? ATRs??


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