Saturday, October 28, 2017

Norm in The WAVE - School Scope: ATRs to UFT - It is About Dignity, Don't Tell Us We Are Lucky to Have a Job

Published October 27, 2017

School Scope: ATRs to UFT - It is About Dignity, Don't Tell Us We Are Lucky to Have a Job

By Norm Scott

There are an estimated 800-1200 ATRs in a system of 130,000 employees. Some of you who have not been slammed in the face with news reports about ATRs might be wondering what an ATR is. These are dislocated tenured teachers whose schools have been closed or who have been excessed from their schools due to reorganization or loss of pupils. 74 percent earned a Highly Effective, Effective, or Satisfactory rating. The rest are in the third category – tenured teachers who have been brought up on charges (3020a) and were not dismissed, though they may have been fined or suspended. It is the latter category that has garnered major media attention which has focused on these relatively few teachers, many of whom may have been disciplined for fairly minor infractions or been the target of principals’ animosity. Or more onerous, they are the victim of their higher salaries. At time teacher salaries did not count against a school’s budget. But under Bloomberg and Klein the rules were changed to punish school budgets with high salaried teachers, thus incentivizing principals to put a target on the backs of these teachers. The 26% who are viewed as ineffective - which might number 300 teachers – has led to front page articles in the Times and the tabloid press expressing horror that principals might be forced to take them.

At a recent UFT Executive Board meeting, ATRs spoke out supported by the MORE and New Action opposition caucuses who have 7 out of 100 seats on the board. Karen Sklaire, an actress and theater teacher whose principal decided to kill her program, thus making her an ATR, spoke out forcefully about her having to sit in an empty room or doing filing instead of the job she was so good at. She lambasted the UFT officials who told her she was lucky to still have a job. She responded, “It is condescending to say I’m lucky to have a job. I don’t feel lucky. ATR system is failing. Better to not have a job than stay and feel humiliated.” You can read Karen’s entire speech on my blog, And The Chief did a great and fair article with comments from a number of ATRs:

Ulrich Switch on Constitutional Convention
There was some consternation among UFT members over its endorsement of Erich Ulrich over even his conditional support for the constitutional convention which unions see as a major threat to protections they have received. Some of us contacted Paul Egan, head of UFT political action and he said that was of some concern but then contacted us that Ulrich has switched positions and now was opposed. I still won’t vote for any Republican and even have troubles pulling the switch for Democrats so I am not sure where my vote will go this time. As for the mayoral race, even though de Blasio deserves a lot of the despising he gets, I will probably vote for him because the other two candidates are so disgusting. The more they lose by the better I will feel.

Thousands to March on Saturday For the 5th Anniversary of Superstorm Sandy
#Sandy5 coalition of 125+ NY groups to march in remembrance of lives lost, rise for climate action at the state and local level
On Saturday, October 28 at 11:30 AM, a broad coalition of local, state, national and global organizations will gather and march across the Brooklyn Bridge to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy and demand bold powerful action from state and local officials.

With over 125 groups signed-on (including Rockaway Waterfront Alliance and my UFT Caucus, MORE), the #Sandy5 march will start at Cadman Plaza before crossing the bridge and gathering at the Alfred E. Smith Houses on the Lower East Side. Organizers are remembering the lives and livelihoods lost to Superstorm Sandy and demanding bold and swift climate action from New York’s elected officials. Demands include actionable steps for Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Chuck Schumer to address unmet needs from the storm’s devastation, protect communities vulnerable to inevitable future storms, and secure transformative policies to make New York a true climate leader. Gathering at Cadman Plaza, marching across the Brooklyn Bridge, rallying Alfred E. Smith Houses. This is a pretty progressive group, which might explain why we don’t see a lot of Rockaway (other than RWA) presence on the list.

Janus is coming – will every state turn into right to work?
Unions nationwide are facing a mammoth attack on all fronts as a last bulwark. The Supreme Court will rule soon on the Janus case which will lead to union members being able to not have to pay dues which will cripple some unions. The UFT expects to lose 20-30% and is already talking of retrenchment. I’ll be following up as news breaks. Though I will urge people to stay in the UFT I have mixed feelings about giving unequivocal support to an organization that I do not consider democratic or sensitive to its members (see ATR story above).

Norm IS sensitive all the time at
Also read his Memo from the RTC columns in The WAVE.

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