Thursday, February 06, 2014

The ATRs Are Coming!

The Daily News has a piece about Absent Reserve Teachers, and oh no, new chancellor Carmen Fariña is actually thinking of putting them to work! The headline itself trumpets they are "considered undesirable by principals."

The article suggests this move could save the city $100 million a year, but that's not remotely its main thrust.

...half have disciplinary histories or unsatisfactory ratings, sources said.

Who am I to question that? After all, sources said it. Nonetheless, that also means that half don't have disciplinary histories or unsatisfactory ratings. So there are 50% of your ATR teachers that, if the article is to be believed, could be placed immediately with a $50 million savings for New York City. Let's take a look at those other scary teachers:

25% committed wrongdoing, 25% received an “unsatisfactory” rating, 40% worked in schools that closed or downsized and 10% teach subjects that are no longer offered in schools.

Wow. I'm concerned about those 10% of teachers. Perish forbid someone with a nursing license should teach biology, or someone with a reading license should teach English. Those subjects are totally unrelated, and everyone knows that no teacher in New York City teaches out of license, ever. 

As for the 25% that received an "unsatisfactory" rating, shouldn't we examine the circumstances? Weren't principals able to dispense them for any reason whatsoever, and didn't Walcott sustain virtually 100% of them no matter what? Has anyone told this to the reporter? Someone I know had to go to court to have a U rating reversed, said rating likely being exercised as a direct result of his having done his job as chapter leader.

As for the 25% who committed wrongdoing, it's fairly clear arbitrators did not think said wrongdoing rose to the level of being removed. I know one of those people, and he did nothing but utter a single imprudent statement with no sexual intent whatsoever. Missing from the article is the fact that teacher salaries are now paid from individual school budgets, offering principals a monetary incentive to avoid hiring more experienced teachers. Go figure.

The article goes on to mention a handful of these 25-percenters accused of things Daily News readers are likely to find offensive. Let's leave aside the fact that speculation is that "most" of the 1,200 ATR teachers are to be placed, and ignore the fact there may be reasons behind placing some and not others.

Here's my question---how is mentioning these selected cases any different from taking members of a religious or ethnic group, highlighting some accused of behaving in a sensational fashion, and then gently leading readers to the conclusion the entire group was unfit or undesirable?
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