Monday, January 29, 2007

Marching for Mayor Mike

Mayor Michael Bloomberg now proposes a "fair funding" plan, calculated to make it inconvenient to hire senior teachers. Principals will be able to hire two newbies for the price of one vet (Thanks to Schoolgal).

UFT President Randi Weingarten has spoken up against it, but had she not enabled mayoral control and the demise of seniority-based placement, it would not even be an issue.

Some schools, apparently, are staffed almost entirely by new teachers. While I've seen a lot of very good ones, I still think they can learn a lot from experienced colleagues (I know I did). Unfortunately, those nasty teacher unions insist that 20 years experience carry a price tag. If Mayor Mike were only able to get rid of salary scales and institute merit pay, he could ensure that no teacher lasted more than five years and eliminate pensions altogether.

When kids failed tests, he could simply blame the teachers and hire new ones. It would be perfect.

Are newbies any better off? You decide. Here's an email I received this morning:

I was accepted as a Midyear Fellow this year, and accepted my position. I completely picked up and relocated to New York City for the program and set up home in Queens. I started my training in December. I was never late to any sessions and always did the work that I was asked to do.

For the first few weeks of the program, I was subletting so that I could have the safety net of going back to my parents' house in case things didn't work out. At the midpoint evaluations, I was told that I was doing fine, so I went ahead and signed a lease for an apartment.

After that, the program's actions really left me in a bind. I had a field observer who decided on a whim that he didn't like my classroom management skills and then proceeded to complain to the office.
When I asked repeatedly what my status in the program was, I was told not to worry about being removed from the program. This happened repeatedly when I asked for feedback on how I was doing in the program.

I finished my training period and spent the entire week afterwards taking interviews for teaching jobs. I also made two trips to my assigned university to get things set up there; I was even given an ID card and registered for classes. I then received a call tonight from the program essentially telling me that my evaluations led those in the office to believe that I was not ready to teach and that they had removed me from the program and removed me from my university classes.

I asked if there was anything that I could do as far as further training or ways that I could work to improve upon their concerns and was basically told that I was not eligible to apply for the Fellows program ever again and that they basically never wanted to see me again.

Bear in mind that when I got my apartment, I was also required to submit a proof of income letter to my landlord. The Fellows program gave me a letter that said that I would be eligible to teach beginning January 22nd and making over 40,000 dollars without any fine print saying that it was contingent upon successful completion of training.

They also allowed me to go to interviews at schools all of this week, which was a waste of my valuable time and a waste of principals' time if they were unable to hire me. Since I spent so much time searching for a teaching job, I was unable to even begin looking for other jobs and now am stuck with no way to make my rent and bills.

I feel as if I was very much wronged by the program and am writing to make you aware of this situation so that you can blog about it and make others beware of the Teaching Fellows program.
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