Friday, July 20, 2007
The following was sent by a correspondent:
Let's open up the subject of Excessing, the latest thunderbolt in the contemptible attacks on the teaching profession by Joel Klein and his corporate handlers.
Our present contract establishes an excessing procedure in Art. 17 B, Rules 4-6 and 11. These rules state that the DOE will place us into new jobs. Please note that the DOE is the active "Placer" and the teacher is the passive "Placee." (The fact that we can, and most likely will, end up as ATRs is a secondary issue I'll address later.) So, we have:
Rule 4. Teachers in excess ... must be placed in vacancies to the fullest degree possible .....
Rule 5. ....... If there are no openings or vacancies in the district/superintendency, the teacher shall be excessed from the district to a vacancy in the region.
Rule 6. The central board has the responsibility for placing teachers who ... cannot be accommodated by their own district/superintendency, if vacancies exist, within the region ........
Rule 11. Unless a principal denies the placement, an excessed teacher will be placed by the Board into a vacancy within his/her district/superintendency; or if such a vacancy is not available, then in a vacancy within his/her region. The Board will place the excessed teacher who is not so placed in an ATR position in the school from which he/she is excessed, or in another school in the same district or superintendency.
After the original excessing letter, we received other emails and packages from the DOE that have broken with the contract entirely and shifted the onus of finding a new job right onto the excessed teacher him/herself. They did it through lies and obfuscation. Take this one: "As you may know, the current UFT contract has changed the way in which excessed teachers and staff seek and receive new positions." The current UFT contract has most certainly NOT changed the way teachers and staff seek and receive new positions. Article 17.B says numerous times that excessed teachers will be placed. And in the DOE's recent emails and written materials, there's a consistent and not-so-subtle shift in language from the passive voice (i.e., teachers "will be placed") to very active orders indeed. By way of example, here are their instructions in an email of a week or two ago:
1) Register for the Open Market Hiring System
2) Attend the July 10th job fair . . . bring a copy of your excess letter.
3) Visit our website www.InternalHiringSupportCenter.org.
4) Download the 2007 Placement Guide . . . . This guide contains all the information you will need to conduct your job search . . . Use it as a reference throughout your search.
In no way can these "orders" be interpreted as "options." We are told to Register, Attend, Visit, and Download, no ands, ifs, buts about it. And just this week they've sent us a 23-page booklet that has to be seen to be believed! It's as outrageous and demeaning as I've come across, a real wolf in sheep's clothing. Not only does it fly in the face of the contract with these tidbits:
"Although it is ultimately your responsibility to secure a new position within NYC" (p.4, para 1)
"In the coming weeks it is your responsibility to secure a new position" (p.5, para 1)
"Human Resources may continue to change your ATR school until you find a permanent position." (p.5, para 2)
it goes on to TEACH us how to construct a resume step by step (they even provide an example). After that lesson, they instruct us how to write a cover letter, dress for an interview, speak to a principal, do a follow-up, etc., along the same lines. The pièce de resistance is the Appendix: a full-page list of "Action Verbs" to help in our job search! To whom does the DOE think it is talking to in this booklet? Some of us have spent most of our careers teaching kids how to write well. Some of us have endured 30 credits above a Masters to make sure we are equipped to do that very job. Some of us, for heaven's sake, have second jobs as writers, editors, counselors, and tutors.
So when I say that this chancellor and this group of educrats has the most profound hatred of teachers, I'm not exaggerating. They virtually flaunt their disregard for the contract and hope no one's looking. They swamp us with instructional material to infantilize us, and they do it under the guise of being helpful.
It's clear they want us VOICELESS. It's clear they want the most senior of us OUT OF THE SYSTEM ENTIRELY.
I am told the union is working on this. Not fast enough though, because by the time they act, the job vacancies on the Open Market system will most likely be taken. Which brings me to that ATR thing mentioned in Rule 11.
We all know by now that Klein recently changed how teacher salaries are going to get paid. In a short time, the principals will have to budget for the higher salaries if they want to retain the most experienced (senior) and most heavily credited (MA plus 30) teachers. I'm afraid this is the death knell of the profession as we once knew it. Even though there's a year's grace on who foots the salary bill, administrators have been heard saying things like "You get two for the price of one" and "Hey, I don't want to interview anyone with over 15 years." Let's say that you, as an excessed teacher, never even get an interview in the new Open Market system because of your years-in or high salary. You may end up subbing for a long time, and you may be subbing in the most difficult schools or getting bounced from one school to another. (UFT bosses, stay alert: the nifty wording in Rule 11 implies possible placement in a second school, but I'm sure the DOE has every intention of keeping its options open to bounce you around to as many schools as it wants.) Few of us would choose to remain in the profession if we had to sub under those conditions for any length of time, but bingo! From the DOE's point of view so much the better, high salaries and high future pensions being such a worry for them. They'd much prefer it if all the senior teachers just quit.
And not just the higher paid teachers. There are so many other gosh-darn reasons for not taking in an excessed teacher: inadequate skills, no charisma, lukewarm recommendations, a history of union activism or whistleblowing, the way the person dresses, that...um...race thing. I knew a principal who wouldn't hire a teacher because she didn't have her nails done. All these people can be ATRs as well until they can't stand it anymore.
There is no check on any of this because the UFT doesn't have a proactive bone in its collective body and has not in recent contracts paid much attention to anything but salary. They're just watching it all play out, and one can't be but baffled at their indifference. Much of what the DOE has sent out to excessed teachers in the past month contradicts the very paragraphs on the subject that the UFT has posted on its own website (see "Know Your Rights"). The union was obviously not at the table when the DOE schemed up this Open Market thing. Hold on, maybe it was at the table. Some people think the union has been complicit for years.
You can't turn a person into an activist. You have to recognize your own anger and convert it into a political voice -- against a fundamentally rotten education department installed and supported by a privileged, power-obsessed mayor, and against a marginalized and semi-comatose union.