Friday, September 26, 2008

Randi, Joel, in PR Joust of ATR's

You won't find many of these in the UFT proposals but you will find lots of rhetoric

see Elizabeth Green in today's NY Sun - I posted it on Norms Notes.

Comment from an ATR:

With all the anti-teacher and anti-ATR press out there this week, why is the UFT so silent????????????? Why no letters to the editors, no op-ed rebuttals? I am hearing from my fellow ATR's who were sent far and away this week and there are some real horror stories out there. And I have no idea what my rights are. Can I be made to sit in an office one period a day to do their bidding? Is this just something ATR's do since I don't see regular teachers doing it? Where is my file? If I am observed as a day-to-day sub, what can they critique me on? etc etc etc.

The silence from the union is deafening.

The silence has ended with the interchange of letters below between Randi and Joel and a UFT press conference that echoes the one held years ago on age discrimination. Sort of. (More aboutthe press conference later.) Both letters and a Tweed fact sheet (definitely read the "facts" on ATR's) are posted at Norms Notes. Also read the full ICE take on these "facts" Excerpt:

In no surprise to anyone, the DOE "Fact Sheet" on excessed teachers distorts the picture. They claim that most teachers in excess are finding jobs. However, a closer look at their numbers shows that their open market hiring system isn't working for most excessed teachers. By looking at the DOE's own data which we show below, we can clearly see that well under 50% of excessed teachers are being hired at new schools through the open market.... Their own facts don't lie. We need stronger contractual protections, not weaker ones.

My response it the usual. The UFT is more concerned with perception than reality. Prime: how the public perceives them. PR is king. Thus, being out in front with a rigorous defense of ATR's leads to the conclusion they created the system in the first place by giving away seniority rights.

How to defend ATR's? Unity suits say "You're still getting paid." They have no concept of what being a teacher is when they so blithely accept that you can be in the system for 20 years and be demoted to a day to day sub on a dime.

Some of our Unity brethren are crying in comments on the Norms Notes blog: Why blame us? Klein changed the funding. Boo, hoo. Poor dears. Got caught with their pants down.

Talk is cheap. To get anywhere the UFT would have to take a very hard stand on issues Klein wants badly and refuse all cooperative modes with the Klein. Target a cherished Tweed program and go after it full speed ahead by mobilizing teachers as refusniks. Without teeth, it's all about PR hot air.

Unity Caucus' Rick Mangone, chapter leader of the soon to be closed Lafayette HS in Brooklyn , has been commenting here and on norm's notes about the wonderful upcoming (it came) UFT press conference and how great it would be for ATR's. Again, later on that.

As you read the Randi/Joel interchange below, keep in mind that it is easy for Randi to propose anything. And just as easy for Klein to reject it. Now what? Do Unity people think that these words of Randi's will be enough to soothe the boo boo of the 2005 contract, which by the way Rick Mangone avidly supported? Teeth, man, teeth.

Right after Klein rejects Randi's proposals, what do her words mean? Does the UFT leadership believe ATR's will bow down and say, "Thank you, Randi. We knew you were with us. And when I am covering subjects I never imagined I would be teaching, I often think of how your words help me go on." Teeth, man, teeth.

I think just a few ATR's might be looking for some incisers to back up Randi's words.

Here's the letter Randi sent Klein on Sept. 24 calling for:
1. An immediate hiring freeze at the central Department of Education, and at the school and district level for any license areas where there are people in excess and available for placement.

2. A redeployment of teachers and other excessed personnel in the Absent Teacher
Reserve (ATR) into vacancies as they arise.

3. Develop a program to recertify excessed personnel in additional license areas, so they are available to fill vacancies as they arise.

Note in Klein's response how he threw her words back at her (emphasis mine):
I want to reiterate that we will not alter our policy on forced placement of teachers. It makes sense to try to limit the significant and growing cost of unselected excessed teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve, but doing so by forcing these teachers into schools is not the answer. A return to this discredited practice, which harmed our schools for decades, would, once more, require schools to accept teachers regardless of whether principals and faculty believe they are the best candidates or good fits for positions.

At our announcement of the School-wide Performance Bonus awards last week, you and I both emphasized the critical need for teacher quality and effective collaboration among teachers and supervisors. You said, “We know, and I think there has become a real consensus in this City, that teacher quality and collaboration are real keys – pivotal keys – to turning around student achievement in schools.” Forced placement contradicts both of those goals. It would be far better to give excessed teachers a reasonable period of time to find a position before they are placed on unpaid leave. Such a policy would mitigate the cost while maintaining fairness and obviating the need for forced placement and all the negative repercussions a return to that system would bring.

Read both letters in full at Norm's Notes.

Of course Leo Casey chimed in with this analyis on Edwize:
First, as a result of the NYC Department of Education’s policy of school closings, there has been the massive displacement of hundreds of educators through no fault of their own. Second, as a consequence of the DoE’s changes to the school budget process, there has been the introduction of budgetary disincentives for the hiring and placement of experienced, senior teachers, a category into which many ATRs fall. And third, there has been the DoE’s gross mismanagement of its educational human resources, which has gone from bad to worse this last year. An intellectually honest account of the swelling ranks of the ATRs would address in a forthright manner each of these three developments.
Gee, Leo. Ya think? School closings? Ooooh! The UFT just spent the last umpteenth years cooperating with school closings. Exhibit #1: Randi Weingarten saying Lafayette HS SHOULD HAVE BEEN CLOSED. See any ATR's over there Leo?

And they changed the budget process on you? Oh, my! You just missed those issues when you'all pushed the 2005 contract down everyone's throats? As to Leo's use of the words "intellectually honest," his picture is in the dictionary – next to the antonym.


  1. And as to Klein's response that you posted in Norm's Notes, with the "Fact Sheet on Excessed Teachers (from DoE)" appended —

    Any sentence with "Fact Sheet" and "DoE" is an oxymoron.

  2. A third of a page article on page 3 of the metro section of the Times and nothing in the anti-teacher Daily news. And of course, for every point Weingarten makes, the Times has gotten a comment from the DoE. I am being run ragged in a huge high school, covering every kind of class imaginable, making phone calls home during my "administrative period",sitting alone in the cafeteria, no locker even to keep my things in during the day so I schlep all my belongings from floor to floor, room to room. Grateful for small favors, like being given a bathroom key. ATR friends are being sent to junior highs despite their high school licenses, being asked to sit for hours doing nothing but "observing how the school works", being asked to teach with no materials. I have been a highly praised teacher of some 20-plus years and I find myself looked at by the students as "just a sub." And I can't find the UFT rep in my new school. How much longer can I remain strong? (I already broke down once when the principal said some kind things to me about how hard it must be to suddenly be thrust into such a new environment.)I see rooms where the teachers seem to care little about the kids or what they are teaching and I know that I can teach circles around these teachers. But no one wants me.

  3. Norman, thanks for mentioning me in the same response as Randi and Leo, maybe now I can get a double pension job, NOT!!!,Also, I will be having major dental work very soon, perhaps I can send you my X-Rays for the next bitting commentary regarding the ATR's. Klein's response is predictable, and yes it is appalling how ATR's are being treated in such an unprofessional way. I see it every day at Lafayette. We must continue the fight to have an amicable resolution to this DOE created problem for our members.

    Rick Mangone

  4. Let's face it, Joel Klein wants a bailout from Randi. Now that the DOE has created the conditions for ATRs to multiply like other members of the world's disadvantaged populations, Klein is looking for an IMF-type solutions to overpopulation: austerity, that is, an unpaid leave or buyout. Klein is selling short, betting that he can get the union to sell out the ATRs this year at a lower price than last year, now that the pool has increased and his progaganda machine has softened up the UFT positions. That's to be expected from a member of the Wall Street crowd. And Klein knows which firm to approach to make this sale. It's called Unity Partners - Weingarten, Weingarten, and Weingarten.

  5. Hey Rick,
    Why don't you write the following on the board 100 times:

    "We must continue the fight to have an amicable resolution to this DOE created problem for our members."

    Maybe you can convince everyone the DOE and not the UFT created this problem with the 2005 contract which you adamantly supported and sold to the people in your school without considering the consequences. I remember your attacks on ICE at the time for opposing the contract. It was the actions of you and your Unity clones that hepled pass that contract.

  6. Rick,
    Are for real with this statement.

    "We must continue the fight to have an amicable resolution to this DOE created problem for our members".

    Just the DOE created the problem? Or Randy and the gang sold us out as the previous person mentioned. You are like the republicans (trying to blame to somebody else for the economic problem).

  7. So, Klein's statement confirms that Randi has agreed to the idea of the ATR's being placed on unpaid leave, does it not?

  8. How do you come up with this? just because Klein said it doesn't mean Randi has agreed to anything? The UFT can just sit tight and will - until the pressure of budget cuts makes someone blink. If the UFT had any toughness - which it doesn't - Klein may have to blink as he cuts programs while leaving ATR's out there.

  9. Klein changed the funding. But he did so with the explicit approval of UFT brass, who endorsed reorg 3, bought off with a plainly ineffectual "hold harmless" clause. If they did not anticipate Klein's move they are idiots. I don't think they are idiots, and the alternative interpretation is even worse.

  10. Following the events of the past week,it is obvious to me that the ATR situation will most likely drag on until the next mayor and chancellor take office.The UFT will NEVER allow the ATR's to be placed on unpaid leave. Klein will not negotiate in good faith, I remember at the DA after the initial negotiations for the 05 contract Randi stating that Klein was livid that he could not fire teachers who then became ATR's. But, the DOE are the one's who are changing the funding and allowing and in some cases forcing principals to hire newbees(academy creatures). By the way, now the DOE has a new group called RTR's-reserve teacher reserves?? Leo Casey mentioned this at Wednesday's HS meeting. Is the UFT to blame for this too???
    Rick Mangone-Lafayette HS

  11. Man Rick you just don't get it. First you actually believe Randi when she says Klein was kicking in screaming? My God, you are naive. And there was a tiem when you didn't haev much faith in Randi either.

    Klein is perfectly willing to pay these people as a short term investment in getting what he wanted. The end to seniority and bumping, the biggest roadblock to his plan to undermine the public schools and the union. Once the UFT handed him that all he now has to do is close schools - and don't think there isn't a political not an educational goal in these closings, which by the way the UFT totally goes along with - no attempt to organize resistance, support parents and teachers who want to fight to keep them open.

    So Klein will use public pressure to try to embarass the UFT into giving up the ATR's but you are right. The union doesn't have to do anything and they still will be paid.

    Klein also gets to send senior teachers anywhere he wants to, smeothing he wanted from day 1. In fact, Klein can manipulate kids and resources to make a school fail and can close just about any school he wants to. Think: Schools with most senior teachers with highest salaries - those that are left - suddenly start getting kids like crazy without money

    Then comes plan B. Klein puts pressure on the schools to get rid of them by hook or by crook by making them pay after a certain point. So we will see bad assignements, observations, pressure, maybe even longer commutes - and no parking of course. The people without the stomach for all this may very well take a buyout. Thus ATR's begin to disapeear with only the die hards hanging on.

    For not all that much money Klein basically destroyed the union at the ground level and got everything he wanted. Of course when you drink the cool-aid you really believe he actually felt he could get them laid off when everyone knows that would be the final peg in the union's heart. But when randi tries to look good after such a big sell-out you naively either buy it or pretend to go along with the line so you can look good at the top and maybe have the union find you a decent place after you become an ATR. And I bet you don't end up too badly.

  12. Klein is still claiming to be livid he can't fire ATR teachers--but that's just another way to undermine public support for teachers. Sadly for us, he knows precisely what he's doing. As for Leo Casey, he doesn't hesitate to libel working teachers in the service of Steve Barr, who denies both tenure and seniority to his so-called unionized teachers.

    The main problem with the ATR situation is this--it was entirely predictable, given the behavior of this administration.

    I remember City Sue on Edwize asking what the difference was between now and some time in the past when they used ATRs. Apparently it had not occurred to her that the Chancellor was hiring new teachers before the ones in limbo had been placed, or that the 05 contract gave the Chancellor the option of hiring new teachers without placing them.

    The lack of vision of the UFT, again and again, amazes me. While I do appreciate that ATR teachers are receiving paychecks, I also understand how demoralized they are--I know exactly how I'd feel in such a position, and I know there but for the grace of God go I.

    It was a bad idea, and it should have been handled better. Klein knows what he's doing, and the PR value of having these teachers paid. That's why he winds up Tim Daly and has him spout his self-serving drivel to the press. While Klein and Bloomberg are not at all adept at running the schools, they're very good at PR--and at running circles around the chronically clueless UFT leadership.

  13. Voice of an ATR
    I was kicked out of my office. I and my fellow teachers where told to get the hell out of the Phys ed. office at Tilden because it was now going to be use as a book room. Why we asked, there are other spaces in the school that you can use. The answer was there is no more any Men's Phys.ed Department. Your all ATRs. You will be shipped out in a few weeks. We went to our chapter Leader, who told us your not part of this school any more! You have no right's as an ATR. You most go where they send you and teach what ever grade level or subject they give you, even though it is not in your licence area. And yes they can obsever you in that subject area and give you a U rating if they want! Some of us in the phys ed. Department, have been working closly for 10 to 20 years. That office has been a phys.ed office for over 80 years. Now more money was wasted to turn it into a book room. They place all of us in far way schools, teaching different subjects. They even tried to get rid of teachers that had 20 years in the building by placing them faraway. But our teachers are fighters, without the help of our chapter leader we grived it and won. This is one right the Randy forgot to give back, thank God. The Principal's response to this. Oh O.K. you want to stay. Wait till you see the schedule I am going to give you. And don't worry this is only a temporary victory. You be go in two years, well see what your going to do then. And with no place to hang there hats, we go to the chapter leader who once again said, you have no rights you have to teach what they tell you and when they tell you. Your their private whore! Good luck.
    The rest of us were sent faraway, to places that we do not want to teach. We were placed in small schools and Suspension Centers. Places that most teachers don't want to work in. ( Klein got what he wanted to send Senior teachers to work in high risk schools or failing schools.) When we got there we where told that in these small schools the UFT contract does not apply. We don't go by UFT contracts here in small schools if you know what I mean. So in other words you better be a good boy or girl because we will make life hard on you. This is not a big school with 200 members. This is a small school with no more than ten members. I know some idots like to say at least you have a job and are getting paid, but after putting in so many years as a city work should you not have the right to choose where you want to work over younger menbers who we don't even know if they can last more than 5 to 10 years. Does the Police, Fire, and Sanitation have ATRS when they close Fire house. Or do the members of these Unions use there Seniority Transfers to more to place where they will be happer working. After all these years of working in places that you don't like, don't you have the right to move someplace that you want? Why did these Unions not give up Seniority Transfers like us for more money. I guess they don't have a great leader like Randy to lead them. Why should a police chief or fire marshall not have the right to choose the people who are going to be working for them, like a principal. Why does nobody ask Bloomberg and Klein that question! Members of ICE your our only hope. Help us make these messages clear. Don't forget about us. Remember the future of all our jobs lies on you to put press on unity and to make the public aware of what is happening out there. For all our sakes!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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