Wednesday, April 16, 2008

They Should Be Shocked. Shocked!

It's funny to read in the UFT paper that they've filed a discrimination suit against the city. Apparently, the Absent Teacher Reserve is largely composed of senior teachers. Amazingly, principals, who now have to pay salaries out of their own school budgets, prefer to hire newer teachers for half the price.

Clearly no one in the UFT anticipated this when they agreed to Klein's third reorganization. This was the reorganization that made principals pay salary lines out of their own budgets. UFT bigshots are shocked that principals snap up newbies at half the price while senior teachers are left to rot in the ATR brigade.

Naturally I'm shocked too. While I and many others repeatedly predicted this would happen, Edwize writers insisted this was the best of all possible worlds and that everything was beautiful. In fact, they praised the "hold harmless" clause, assuming that principals would opt to hire senior teachers rather than grabbing two for the price of one.

Apparently, what with their utter lack of vision and all, UFT bigshots underestimated the bargain-hunting abilities of administrators. Perhaps they simply hadn't noticed that the city has been paying the lowest wage in the area for over thirty years. Or perhaps they did, but attributed it to coincidence. Or maybe they believed Ms. Weingarten's repeated lies about our having caught up to the suburbs.

In any case, in retrospect, perhaps it was indeed an error to agree to this ATR thing. Senior teachers used to be guaranteed placement, and now they're just another financial liability for principals to worry about. Perhaps it wasn't a good idea to have placed them in this demoralizing position without even getting a cost of living increase in return. But what with the UFT's complete lack of vision, I suppose that's too much to ask.

And even with the administration's newfound right to condemn teachers to the purgatory of ATR, the city is still short of qualified science, art, and foreign language teachers. And there are many qualified teachers rotting in the ATR brigade. I know some of them.

But due to the devil's bargain between Ms. Weingarten and Mr. Klein, NYC kids still learn Spanish from gym teachers and science from social studies teachers. The rate is now 9% overall, though it runs up to 25 if you want to study earth science.

In nearby suburban schools, with unions, without merit pay, and without "reforms," the figure hovers around zero--as it has for as long as I've been following education. What can Mr. Klein and Ms. Weingarten learn from this? And is there any evidence to suggest either bothers to learn anything? Or that they have any incentive to do so?

Let me know if you can come up with any answers.
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