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Monday, May 9, 2011

Respond! Inform!

     A fellow named Nick Collette recently wrote a string of mistruths about the Absent Teacher Reserve at a website called redcounty.comCheck out these whoppers:

           The union contract required that teachers be paid their full
           salaries and benefits if they are sent to the
           "Absent Teacher Reserve Pool."  These teachers, some
           being disciplined for astounding reasons, were
           being paid an average of $82,000 to sit in a room and 
           twiddle their thumbs because they failed at
           teaching the students they serve.

Donning the cape and tights of my alter ego, brooklynatr, I responded: 

 I can guarantee that I know more about the ATR than you do, because I am a member of the ATR.  I was not "sent" to the ATR for any disciplinary reason, astounding or otherwise.  Due to budgetary constraints, my original school needed to "shed" a few teachers.  The rule, as stated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, is that the teacher within a given license area who has the least seniority is "excessed."  These teachers may be assigned by the D.O.E. to another school within their district on a permanent basis, or they may be placed in the ATR (click here for details).

Becoming an ATR has absolutely nothing to do with discipline.  It has absolutely nothing to do with failing to teach.  If we had committed a serious infraction or failed to teach our students, we would have landed in the infamous Rubber Room.  The ATR , however, is for qualified teachers with satisfactory records who got pinched by the budget and by the seniority system.

What do we do in the ATR? We do not sit in a room and twiddle our thumbs.  We teach.  Many of us have steady teaching assignments just like any other teacher.  Others, such as myself, report to work every day and are given a short-term assignment to subsitute for an absent teacher--hence the name, Absent Teacher Reserve.   Believe me, substituting for 30 seventh-graders is not the same as sitting in a room and twiddling your thumbs.    
This one has a happy ending.  Mr. Collette admitted that he had been misinformed and promised that he would correct his article as soon as possible.

The lesson is clear, colleagues: It pays to respond! It pays to inform!

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