Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Mayor Mike's Kinfolk Issue a Report

After reading widespread claims about Mayor Bloomberg's 81 million dollar bill for ATR teachers, it's nice to see that the UFT is finally speaking up. I only hope someone is listening.

The New Teacher Project, a completely objective organization (which just happens to have a bunch of DoE contracts) released a "fair and balanced" report calling for amendments to the UFT contract. Apparently, those goshdarn lazy ATR teachers don't want to look for jobs at all.

But the UFT says 194 of the 665 ATR teachers are actually working regular schedules full time. Not only that, but with the central system paying their salaries, principals have no incentive whatsoever to put them on payroll. Why not have a free teacher in perpetuity and buy that all-important plasma TV for the principal's office? Why not invest in daily donut deliveries to freshen up the place?

And while you're at it, why not let the mayor and his "fair and balanced" NTP quadruple the supposed cost of this enterprise? The UFT estimates it costs substantially less than the city claims.

The president of the New Teacher Project, Timothy Daly, said he knew of no way to collect data on precisely what ATR members are doing inside schools.
"Why didn't I hear about this before now if this is a widespread problem?" Mr. Daly said.

Interesting that Mr. Daly, despite having no knowledge of what ATR members did within schools, had no problem issuing reports and coming to conclusions about them. And Mr. Daly's conclusions are interesting indeed:

As we have seen in New York already, only a very small percentage of the entire teaching force (235 teachers out of approximately 79,000, or only about 0.3 percent) was unable to find a mutual consent position after a full year in the reserve pool.

Note that the "fair and balanced" approach of Mr. Daly's group is not to actually use the percentage of teachers in the reserve pool, but to compare it to the number of working teachers in New York City, the overwhelming majority of whom have never even been in the reserve pool. You know the old line about "liars, damned liars, and statisticians?"
Another example of Mr. Daly's approach to statistics can be found over at Eduwonkette's comment form.

38 percent of the most senior group of excessed teachers found a new position compared to 35 percent of the most novice.

Note that when Mr. Daly refers to "excessed teachers," he makes no distinction between new teachers excessed for declining enrollment in their subjects, and veteran teachers stuck in schools that got closed. That right there is misleading, as a one-year English teacher might easily go from school A to school B with little problem. It's different for the vet, who's gonna cost principal B over double what one-year teacher gets. And Mr. Daly acknowledges, somewhat, that new teachers are less likely to find themselves in the ATR pool:

...the most novice teachers were more than twice as likely to be reabsorbed by their former schools as the most senior teachers (44 percent compared to 18 percent).

Here, the statistics become even more questionable. There are simply more novice teachers than senior teachers these days. So if 38% of them found jobs, while 35% of novices found jobs, it's entirely possible that many more novices found jobs than senior teachers did. We don't know, of course, because in Mr. Daly's "fair and balanced" report, that info is unavailable to us.
Is there anyone naive enough to believe that if Mr. Daly's group came to different conclusions they'd still be riding the DoE gravy train?
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