Monday, December 08, 2014

An ATR by Any Other Name

It's odd to read all the contradictory info about ATR teachers. For example, this piece places the number of ATR teachers at 1, 171. This piece suggests there were 1,890 in September. Have 700 ATR teachers found placements? If so, are they provisional?

It appears that provisionally placed teachers are no longer counted as part of the ATR. For the city's purposes, that may be reasonable. After all, those teachers are seeing the same kids every day, writing lesson plans, and subject to the same junk science rating plan as the rest of us. The real point, for the city at least, is they aren't paying a full salary for people to work as substitute teachers. I suppose this may give Chancellor Fariña boasting rights.

As far as I know, the UFT goes along with this counting method, but if anyone knows better, feel free to correct me. I'd argue, though, that unless the 700 teachers found permanent placements, they are still ATR teachers. Why? First of all, if they are not placed permanently at year's end, they will return to the endless rotation in September. That in itself ought to be enough.

But there's more. Under the UFT MOA, teachers in the ATR are subject to disparate treatment. An ATR teacher removed from two provisional placements is subject to an expedited 3020a process. We don't exactly know what the basis is for a principal to remove an ATR teacher, but UFT President Michael Mulgrew suggested shouting in the halls would be a good reason. I've been chapter leader of the largest high school in Queens for five years and I've yet to see a teacher in trouble for shouting in the halls. In fact, given our chronic overcrowding, I fail to see how anyone in our building could effectively communicate during passing without doing so. Nonetheless, if you're an ATR you'd better keep your head down and mumble, lest they come after you.

If you aren't treated the same as every other working teacher, it's ludicrous to say you're the same as every other working teacher. ATR teachers with whom I speak are well aware that things are different for them. In our school there have been a few ATR teachers who were permanently placed, and I hope to see it happen again, but there have been many more who were not, and from what I hear even the small number who were go against the tide.

Last week my school ran an SBO vote, and an ATR teacher argued with me over whether or not she should vote. I told her she was here, she was a UFT member, and she had every right. She said she would not be staying and it didn't really affect her long-term. We were both right, in one way or another. It would certainly be better if she had a group to advocate for her and those in her position.

My friend James Eterno is actively working to establish such a group. UFT leadership opposes it, as they contend the ATR is a temporary phenomenon. Yet it's now been around almost a full decade. There are functional chapters that address the needs of counselors, secretaries and paraprofessionals. Certainly there should be one to address the needs of ATR members.

Had there been such a chapter during contract negotiations, perhaps leadership would not have been able to degrade their due process and sell it to members as a good thing.
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