Tuesday, July 18, 2017

In a Shocker, Campbell Brown's Website Attacks ATRs

Over at Campbell Brown's blog, to which I will not link, there's a hit piece on ATR teachers. Evidently it's a disgrace to pay teachers who don't teach, but it's also terrible if they're allowed to teach. It's written by a lawyer who has never taught, and who boasts of helping to write the 2005 Contract that enabled the ATR, the one he's ironically so worked up over.

The lawyer then musters the gall to call the forced placement of ATR teachers as "the dance of the lemons," which is how he interprets placement based on seniority. This was a favorite phrase of the reformy stinker Waiting for Superman, and I'm pretty sure I've seen it since. You see, every teacher who wants placement is terrible.

In fact, I'm a case in point. In 1993, before the horrible practice was finally ended, I used the UFT Transfer Plan to go from John Adams High School to Francis Lewis. I did this because my supervisor gave me an ultimatum--I was going to teach all Spanish or she was going to put me on a late schedule, precluding the second job I needed to pay my new mortgage. This was not precisely because I was the terrible teacher Campbell Brown's article proves I am. (Nor was it for the good of the students, because both she and I knew I was better at teaching ESL). It was, in fact, for her convenience, because she was tired of the current Spanish teacher sending kids to her office. Because I never sent kids to her office, this was my punishment.

I did not bother to call Francis Lewis to ask about the position. A favorite motto of mine is, "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission." I thought it would be awkward if they told me there was, in fact, no position, and I got it anyway. I thought the possibility was high that they would protect the position rather than bring me, an unknown quantity, on board.

Of course, Campbell Brown's lawyer friend knows I am terrible, because every teacher who wants to make a move is terrible. (Not to be outdone, the Wall St. Journal calls us "perverts, drunkards, and ofther classroom miscreants.") Naturally, only principals can judge whether or not teachers are good because they are Mary Poppins--Perfect in Every Way and teacher judgment is always unreliable. Never mind that the recently dismissed principal of Townsend Harris was reviled by students and staff, or that she had a horrendous history at Bronx Science. Never mind that CPE 1 Principal Monica Garg placed the UFT chapter leader and delegate up on charges that were not remotely substantiated. And never mind the other abusive supervisors all over the city.

Better we assume that principals are always right, and teachers are always wrong. Who cares if the DOE was unable to sustain charges? Isn't it enough that they were charged in the first place? I, for one, am glad there are lawyers like this around. What, you were charged with a crime? Well then you must be guilty.

Doubtless if his family or friends were arrested for crimes, be they major or minor, he wouldn't make a bunch of phone calls and urge they get representation. Surely he'd advise them to plead guilty and request the maximum sentence. In fact, a whole lot of people in the ATR were not only charged, but also went through a process. In fact, they were found not to merit removal from their jobs.

That's not enough over at Campbell Brown's place. Once you're charged, you're guilty. No one should have to give you your job back, and if you don't get a job you should be fired. Never mind that you're walking around with a black mark on your record advising nervous principals you may be trouble. And never mind that all the principals need do if they don't want the ATRs back is give them a rating below effective.

It occurs to me, but not the lawyer, that vindictive principals would certainly take advantage if there were a time limit to the ATR. I can name supervisors who would be much happier were I not around. Of course they're entitled to feel that way, and it doesn't mean they'd necessarily act on it, but we all know supervisors who would place inconvenient people up on charges whether or not they merited them.

While I have not been accused of being a bad teacher, I can imagine a lot of reasons principals would refrain from hiring me. There's this blog, for one, There's the fact that my presence can be inconvenient on other levels too, as an activist and chapter leader. I can't really blame them if I'm not on their A-list. I also can't blame a whole lot of ATR teachers for not being in aggressive pursuit of jobs they're hardly likely to win.

But I certainly blame Campbell Brown's writers for suggesting that I or my ATR brothers and sisters are a bunch of lemons. That's a blatant stereotype, and I'm not at all sure why stereotyping teachers, or anyone, is still socially acceptable.

Evidently that's the price we pay for devoting our lives to teaching the children of New York City.
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