Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Planned Pauperhood

As regular readers of this blog know, I think the 2005 UFT contract was a disaster. One reason why is the short-sighted absent-teacher reserve, or ATR plan. Mr. Klein and Ms. Weingarten agreed that teachers who were displaced would no longer be guaranteed employment in the city. Both were well-aware of the city policy to close schools on a fairly regular basis.

A further agreement between Ms. Weingarten and Mr. Klein allowed schools, rather than Tweed, to be responsible for teacher salaries. Therefore, the price of one experienced teacher can buy principals two new ones (or they could get one new teacher and 10 sessions with a high-priced call-girl).

In our school, a colleague came in on a UFT transfer a few years back. He tells me we have a top-notch science teacher who came from his now-closed (or renamed) school. This guy subs day after day, and gets paid maximum salary to do so. From a teacher's or student's standpoint, it's awful to waste his talents like this.

From an administration standpoint, it's awful to waste money like this. Ms. Weingarten may have thought the chancellor wouldn't hire new teachers before full-salaried veteran teachers were placed. Mr. Klein may have thought (as did I) that Ms. Weingarten would simply fold and allow these teachers to be fired, particularly after he snookered her into reorganization 3, which, through effective financial penalties, discourages principals from hiring experienced teachers.

So far it's a stalemate. But it's a terrible waste of talent and money. If the city chooses to close schools and displace teachers, it ought to find them jobs teaching. The ATR system, while it maintains employment for some who've lost jobs through no fault of their own, ultimately serves no one.

Mr. Gorbachev tore down that wall, in the end. And Mr. Klein ought to put these teachers to work right now.

Photo by Sol Belell
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