Saturday, October 29, 2011

One School - A Hundred Contract Violations a Second

I've been telling teachers who tell tales like the one below to reframe the debate in terms of how kids lose when the teaching contract is violated. Giving a teacher 6 periods a day instead of 5? Do we think the kids in period 6 benefit at the end of the day with a worn-out teacher? Class size violations = less services for kids in overcrowded classes. When we hear complaints from idjits like Steve Brill about the length of our contract I say we need to double its length. Actually, that wouldn't make a difference since the UFT does so little to enforce what is there - double zero is still zero.

This is from a former ATR. Where do you start after reading one teacher's report on how for all intents and purposes the UFT contract doesn't exist? Now in the world of the UFT they will place the blame on the teacher - "file a grievance" - that will go nowhere as it winds its way through the system - while the principal (who has been empowered to beat on teachers by Tweed with no opposition from the UFT) has free reign to retaliate. 

Remember when the UFT promised "small group instruction" would be "small group instruction and not another teaching period. Well, good luck. Yesterday a retired F-status teacher told me she has a pull-out group with 35 kids.

NOTE UPDATES TO ATR focused BLOGS - have ATRs send an email to to be added to the new listserve.

The C-6 Professional Duty – “C” for “Creative”
by Life-in-Limbo

I didn’t think they could squeeze any more out of us. I mean, my colleagues and I are maxed out paperwork-wise, class size-wise, and stress-wise. Seriously, we had one teacher die of a heart attack the first week of school, two teachers are out on medical leave due to anxiety, the teacher across the hall has stopped me twice in the hallway to ask me to watch her class so she can go throw up (no, it’s not pregnancy), the teacher on the right is having panic attacks every morning before homeroom and the teacher on my right was in the ER this past weekend diagnosed with Acute Anxiety Disorder and is getting a consult for anti-depressants this weekend. Also, a teacher down the hall left a few weeks ago, in an ambulance, because he was feeling dizzy and ill. Turned out his blood pressure was up to something insane, like 270/110 - he was in the hospital for three days. And that’s just on MY floor.

Now, before I go any further, here’s a pop quiz (yes, I know it’s the weekend, but it’s only one question for full credit):

How many teaching periods per week is considered a full schedule for an appointed teacher?

Twenty-five you say? Hahahahahahahahaha!!! How 2005!

Try thirty.

I have thirty teaching periods per week as of this week. How did they do it, you ask? Allow me to explain.

I came in to work this week to find a program of “small group instruction”, a Circular 6 Professional Assignment. I have no recollection of filling out a C-6 preference sheet, as required by our contract, but there it was anyway.

Remember my last post, where I said we had vacancies in the building? One of them is an AIS Reading position that, as of last week, has yet to be filled. This is a relevant fact, as you will soon see.

Now, I teach a CTT, which means I have a homeroom, which, according to our contract, serves as my professional assignment, so I should not have gotten the C-6 assignment, right? RIGHT???

Wrong. I went to my principal who said that since it is a CTT, there are technically two people doing one job, so Mr. X, my co-teacher (whom I must say does a wonderful job of putting up with me and my compulsive board-washing), will be the homeroom teacher of record and I will report to my C-6 assigned “small group instruction”. So I was officially relieved of my homeroom duties, apparently. Fine. I hate collecting baby pictures and lunch forms anyway

So the period for this “duty” comes and I report to the room, and I realize that it is the room reserved for the AIS vacancy – it is not set up, many desks have been pilfered, graffiti has been applied to some of the furniture, there was debris everywhere and there was no chalk, earasers, etc. I had no roster of students, no materials, and no idea exactly WHAT I was supposed to do with this small group. So imagine my surprise when an ENTIRE class shows up for “small group instruction”! No section sheet, no roster, no materials, nothing. There were 21 students in my “small group”, all of whom were so used to not having a teacher this period (it’s been this way since September) that my chance of getting them to actually DO anything was slim to none.

After this fiasco, I found out that the rest of the CTT teachers were subjected to the same treatment – one was given the homeroom exclusively, and the other pulled to cover a “small group” in this same room. We figured out that instead of HIRING one of the MANY READING ATRs that are currently members of the “School-of-the-Week Club”, they are using the C-6 assignment to avoid hiring a teacher and getting the five of us to teach what is, essentially, a sixth teaching period each day.

Upon closer scrutiny, I discovered a few more oddities relating to my particular assignment:
On two consecutive days, it causes me to teach four periods in a row, a violation of the contract.
On two days, we have “voluntary” department meetings during our common prep time, (as in, it’s voluntary, but you are still responsible for what happens if you don’t show up). On those two days, this C6 assignment leaves me with NO PREP at all, also a violation.
Twenty-one students is NOT a “small group”
I was never given a menu of C-6 choices from which to choose (I would NEVER choose more time in front of kids, LOL)
I was told by my CL that this IS an extra prep for me, that I must have a plan for it, and that I can be observed in this setting.
I must keep track of what I do, and the kids change every day, so I just had my prep time cut by more than half (if you count the lost periods for department meetings, I only have three preps/week now) and was given an extra prep (the “small groups” are a different grade than the one I teach), and another 100 students to keep track of.

I am considering chucking it all and joining a commune in Vermont.

So, how was everyone else’s week? Me? I need a large glass of pinot grigio, which I will now pour. Any more of this, and I’ll have to start mainlining tequila.

James Eterno reports from the ICE blog

MIND BOGGLING: AN ATR REPORTS FROM THE FIELD - An ATR from Jamaica sent this email to me yesterday.
Reported to LI City HS today as five day ATR, a nice looking, modern building, six stories tall. I covered three different teachers, none of whom taught English (my certification). When I got to my last class, the freshmen all asked, "Are you our real teacher or just another sub?" I asked another teacher leaving the room why this class had no regular teacher as we steadily approach November. Her reply was stunning. "We actually have five vacancies in the building," she said. "We're in transformation, which means they're trying to cause as much chaos as possible until they can shut us down." Naturally, this is the compete opposite of what the word 'transformation' means, unless the DoE means transforming into more boutique academies and creating still more ATRs, which is exactly what they intend.  

I'm certainly glad I spent my summer attending five separate DoE job fairs, while some buildings are intentionally understaffing and have absolutely no intention of hiring ATRs. I could tell from all those bobbing heads and smiling faces during July and August that no one was actually looking to hire teachers, let alone pay attention to what we were saying. Yet at this point in my career I can honestly say that I know who I'm dealing with when it comes to the Dept of Ed, a truly vicious, union busting entity. The real question I have is where my union is during all this madness. When will our pseudo-tough guy president finally step up and protect his people? I was paying tolls last week in the Rockaways at Beach Channel. This week I'm on the complete opposite side of Queens in Long Island City. The DoE is obviously testing my limits, but not one message, call, or e-mail from my union telling me to hold on, to keep fighting, to wait until things get better. So Alright, fine. I'll simply stop waiting. My fiance is a teacher in this troubled system, as well. From here on in, we are a teaching union of two. 

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on the right for important bits.


  1. This is what happens with:

    a) no independent Board of Education to express outrage. Panel for Educational Policy puppet would never have the nerve to address this.

    b) no spined union head. Lazy Mulgrew and company are too busy having steak dinners on our tab to do the right response:
    Call press conferences and raise a stink before cameras. (He's not a teacher, but give us Toussaint for a month. I bet that he'd turn things around.)

  2. Correct. The UFT should be doing things to embarrass principals and the DOE. Hold demos outside these schools. Distribute literature. Occupy principal offices. if I were Mulgrew, I'd pick one school and go the office with a contingent of UFTers with sleeping bags and stay put. Get arrested. Then do it again and again. You want to see the membership develop some stones and goddam balls quickly??? Mulgrew can lead the way but he won't because he is a wimp.

  3. A DAMN>>>they need to be outed....WE need to embarrass the UFT and Mulgrew so they will START doing the jobs they get paid $$$$$$$$$$$$$ to do!!! These situations are an utter OUTRAGE!!!! Every school that I have been in have vacancies...every single one! I thought they were mandated to fill them with an ATR not day to days...which they are doing! OUTRAGE

  4. Nope. The 2005 contract made sure that principals could not be forced to fill a vacancy.

    The UFT is coming apart at the seams. Instead of developing some STONES they continue to play footsie with the DOE. They are done. Unity is done. DONE.

  5. >>>Hold demos outside these schools. Distribute literature. >>>>occupy principal offices. if I were Mulgrew, I'd pick one school and go the office with a contingent of UFTers with sleeping bags and stay put. Get arrested. Then do it again and again.>>>

    We *could* do all of these things ourselves. We... not Mr. Mulgrew... are, after all, the union.


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