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Thursday, July 28, 2011

An ATR teacher ponders weekly reassignment

It has been reported widely that members of the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) will be shifted from school to school this coming year as often as every week.  

Our contributor, Life in Limbo, considers the effect this new policy might have on herself, her family, and her career.  As usual, NYCATR has highlighted the points that are especially interesting, outrageous, or pathetic.

If I am still an ATR teacher in September, I will have to deal with this new, week-to-week assignment situation resulting from the new ATR agreement. This will, in all likelihood, become a childcare nightmare for my husband and me. My husband works an overnight shift, from which he gets home at about 6:45 in the morning. If I am sent to a school in the far reaches of my quite extensive district, these assignments may very well force me to leave my three young kids (10, 8, and 5) alone in the house in the mornings in order to make it to work on time. I have no family in the area who can help out and my neighbors also work. No one will want to take a babysitting job that is not consistent week-to-week and is only for a half hour or so at the most, and I am not sure we could afford a babysitter right now. 

On days when I am assigned to a far-flung school, my children will DEFINITELY be left alone if the weather is inclement--my husband will be getting home later while I have to leave earlier due to driving conditions. In addition, I get very nervous and stressed when I am going to an unfamiliar location and like to do a trial run before driving there by myself. This will be next to impossible when I am only given a day or two's notice of my new location. Ironically, as a per diem sub, I could refuse a job if it was too far away or too difficult to get to, so it seems that even the per diem people have more rights than I do.

I will face the same issues on the way home--I am not sure how to set up my kids' after-school activities since I have no idea what time I'll be home from one week to another. Deciding if a 4:00 Girl Scout meeting or 4:30 dance class is doable will be virtually impossible as my work hours and commute time will change weekly. In addition, scheduling doctors' appointments and other necessities (haircuts? manicures?) will also be an adventure. Some appointments must be made weeks in advance and I just will not be sure of being able to keep it. And again, do I consider the expense of a sitter to drive my kids around, or just tell my kids that there will be no more piano, dance, Scouts, etc. because we don't know if we can get you there? And would paying the sitter leave no money for activities anyway?

Now let's get one thing straight. I understand that I am "lucky to have a job at all" in this economy, especially one that pays decently and comes with good benefits. I understand that in other districts, excessed means no paycheck at all. I also understand that there are many who are facing more dire situations than I am. But the situation I am facing is a serious one for me and my family, and I am sure I am not the only member of the ATR pool who is facing the potential dismantling of his/her home life. This ATR situation has already stressed my marriage, my children, and my emotional well-being enormously. My family and I have paid dearly already. It's hard when all Mom does is worry about work and when the other shoe is going to drop, so to speak. So while I realize that there are many in worse situations than mine, I must maintain that this situation is pretty crappy, too, and has the "bonus" of not only making me miserable, but also spilling over into my family's life.

30 comments:

  1. Why doesn't the ATR find a new line of work, or head to Newark Public Schools across the Hudson?

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  2. You can always...quit.

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  3. Instead of writing this blog, you should put that effort into getting a job.

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  4. Exactly the point of the ATR agreement - stress people out to force them to quit. You must be a Tweedie. or maybe someone on the uft negotiating team.

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  5. To the anonymous ones,

    Instead of writing these comments, you can always go ... yourselves. But it seems like you've already done so in your anonymity.

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  6. In response to Anonymous, I say the following:
    a) Unlike you, "the ATR" has a name, which is Life in Limbo.
    b) If you had read Life in Limbo's previous post on this blog (http://nycatr.blogspot.com/2011/07/life-in-limbo-random-musings-from-atr.html) you would know that she has invested considerable effort into finding a new position, to no avail. In the meantime, she is spending a bit of her summer vacation time "writing this blog"; if you consider that to be a waste of time, why did you bother to read her post?
    c) Ms. Limbo would prefer not to find a new line of work because she has already spent years gaining qualifications and experience in her chosen profession.
    d) Of course she CAN quit her job, just like you can quit yours. The question is, why should she be aggravated to the point of quitting when her employer has plenty of work to be done and she has always done commendable work?

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  7. People who chose a career that they feel passionate about should not 'feel like they need to quit' because the system is trying to break them.

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  8. I'm sorry...don't mean to sound harsh, but if you were employable - motivated, skilled, accountable, results-oriented, and licensed in an area of need, you would have a placement already. The economy is trying to tell you something you aren't accepting. So are the principals who won't hire you, abd the other principals or APs who won't recommend you. Please, instead of blaming the system and everyone else, face these realities. The truth is that ATRs are so blessed to have full salary and benefits for essentially hanging on to a system that can't figure out how to make use of their scant skills and even more scarce willingness to actually work.

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  9. Sheesh, Anon 12:00, make assumptions much? Amazing how you know everything about my by reading one brief blog post. Have you considered a career as a psychic?

    And, no, I don't think you're sorry at all (at least not in the way you wrote it). I think your comment is an example of the lack of empathy that has taken over this society - whenever anyone falls on hard times, they must "deserve" it in some way. After all, the system is completely fair and just all the time. Right?

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  10. Life in Limbo, I wouldn't bother even taking the time of day to listen to some anonymous reader who leaves comments.
    The fact that this person wishes to be 'anonymous' and not show his/her face says it all, being cowardly and afraid to stand up for him/herself.

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  11. Maybe LIL is a great teacher. Maybe she has done everything in her power to get a new job. That doesn't mean she is entitled to sit around and get paid for doing nothing (or for a job search, if that's how she is spending her time). That doesn't mean she gets to call the shots on the terms of her employment.

    It sounds like the new ATR rules will be really inconvenient for her family. But this economy is really inconvenient for a lot of families and this blog post is utterly ridiculous in its sense of entitlement. Lots of well qualified hard-working people are out work. It isn't fair. But c'mon! In most jobs when you get laid off you get some severance, and some unemployment insurance and that's it. The idea that anyone should get paid indefinitely after a layoff is what is patently unfair. If LIL doesn't like the new terms than she can quit, and consider the ATR payments she's received so far as her severance package.

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  12. Dear Anonymous,

    1) You are right that Life in Limbo isn't entitled "to sit around and get paid for doing nothing." If you had read her previous post
    (http://nycatr.blogspot.com/2011/07/life-in-limbo-random-musings-from-atr.html) you would have known that she has been working the entire time since she was "excessed." She worked one year in an elementary school, and a second year in a middle school. Her job? TEACHING.
    2) You are also correct that "the idea that anyone should get paid indefinitely after a layoff is what is patently unfair." Just one little problem: Life in Limbo was not laid off. She was excessed by one particular school in a system that has approximately 1,000 schools. What is patently unfair (not to mention fiscally irresponsible)is that the leaders of that system could not make the most of her talents in one of those 1,000 schools. Instead, they chose to waste their money by using LIL as li'l more than a glorified per-diem substitute.

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  13. Part of the problem I think people have with understanding the ins and outs of ATRs (such as the fact that they are not "laid off." As the DOE shifts student demographics and opens and closes schools, staffing needs in particular schools change. Teachers are excessed by seniority, not talent. In addition, because the DOE changed how schools pay for teachers, many principals are gun shy about hiring any ATR with more than a year or two in the system when they can't afford books.

    The newest weekly rotation is meant to scare principals into hiring the ATRs they would let teach without being on their payroll. The principals knew they were good, they also knew they didn't have to pay for them if they were an ATR. I am an ATR and was told at an interview that the school would hire me except for the number of years I have in the system. I understand what the city is doing. I just think, as with most things, they didn't think this plan through - the same way they didn't think things through when they changed the budgeting rules or created the ATR situation in the first place.

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  14. Whichever genius or geniuses is/are writing hurtful nonsense about this woman's plight: Why?

    Teachers were the first group or class of people to be the target of the new era's class warfare. They have been suffering greatly--some dead, and some seriously ill--as a result of the systematic attack on the ability of the populace to recognize tyranny and resist it.

    No human who doesn't have uber bucks (hundreds of millions of dollars, billions) is going to get out of this in one piece if we do not change it.

    That includes whomever snipes at some of the most unselfish, hard working laborers out there: our teachers. It would behoove you to educate yourself and unite with all of us who are suffering under growing and quite malevolent oppression.

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  15. Life in Limbo, stop listening to 'anonymous' person's analysis of your situation. Anonymous is too darn chicken and coward to show his/her face...why bother listening? This person IS NOT WORTH HAVING A CONVERSATION OVER, a complete waste of time.

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  16. Talent, experience, and skills are all against you in the current NYC system: the better you are, the longer you are in a position, the more likely you will be excessed with the new budgeting rules. With limited resources principals have no choice but to cut where they can and they can excess senior teachers. No principal is going to hire an expensive senior teacher when they can get a much cheaper, younger teacher who may be not quite as good but may be "good enough". It is the younger teachers who do not understand that they too will be expensive one day. Please don't be fooled, everyone is expendable no matter how results oriented, talented, dedicated, and sucessful you are in the classroom. Money talks.

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  17. Teacher Under AttackAugust 30, 2011 at 4:47 AM

    Anonymous, please give respect to those in the teaching profession who got you where you are now. Imagine for a moment your favorite teacher...now imagine him/her being targetted for termination by a principal on a power trip, or one who wishes to fill his school with teachers of his/her own ethnicity, and so falsifies documents, evaluations, observations etc in order to compile a paper trail that can be used as evidence in court...now imagine that favorite teacher of yours who never had a negative rating before his/her current principal's subjective ones, defending him/herself in court at a termination hearing, fighting to keep a license, fighting to keep health benefits, family security, retirement, pride. Then when that corrupt system manipulates your favorite teacher's career (that included the mandatory masters degree), and turns it into a day to day assignment with no foundation, no consistency, no security, then tell us teachers about fairness and entitlement to complain.
    There is a historic negative campaign against teachers in this country, starting with the way teachers in those one room school houses, if they wanted a job, had to be female, unmarried, childless and poor, all the way to qualified and vilified teachers languishing, under guard, in Rubber Rooms. Anonymous, like a student in detention hall, maybe it is best you keep your mouth shut.

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  18. It is so true that principals are trying to cut whatever senior teachers they can to save money. Schools aren't about the best education for the students anymore....principals don't care who they hire as long as they are a cheap new teacher. I was told YESTERDAY that I would not have a program this coming school year and I am now an ATR. I consider myself a good teacher...but unfortunately I happen to be in a license area which is highly expendable...so confused.

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  19. Also, do we have to be shifted around week to week? How does this work?

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  20. To Anonymous, 8/31/11 8:05 AM--

    NYCATR has written several posts on the issue of weekly reassignment; see the following 2 posts in particular:
    a) http://nycatr.blogspot.com/2011/08/nitty-gritty-details-of-atr-deployment.html
    b) http://nycatr.blogspot.com/2011/08/low-down-on-nitty-gritty-of-atr.html

    The "letter of the law" of the new agreement definitely says that an ATR teacher may be shifted from school to school on a weekly basis. What really is going to happen is anyone's guess.

    The report I've heard so far is that all ATR teachers have received placements for the beginning of the school year, and that they will not be reassigned (if at all) until October 9.

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  21. I just spoke to someone from the UFT and she told me that we will be place until Oct 9th in one school then we will be sent to different schools every week! Since I was just informed of my new ATR position yesterday I am not even eligible to look on the job site because I guess my papers haven't gone through yet!

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  22. Why are the "anonymous" comments so nasty?? Quitting is NOT an option if you have a family support and it is not so easy to just go across the bridge to Newark....what fools you sound like! As for Life in Limbo, I can commiserate with you! I just found out YESTERDAY that I would be an ATR! My first thought was "Who is going to drive my daughter to school in the morning". How sad that we are treated so poorly and have no rights despite having taught for a number of years. It is so sad and frustrating!

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  23. Thanks for all the support. To all the new ATRs, I say, WELCOME TO PURGATORY.

    I think the naysayers are in denial. In an economy like this, everyone is scared for thei own livelihood. In order to keep the fear from immobilizing them, they muse rationalize that the ATRs must DESERVE what they get, that the ones who cannot find jobs are "lazy" or "weak", etc. What they do not realize is that no one will have their backs when they end up in the ATR.

    Plus, this is America, and kicking people when they are down has become the American way. Hooray for me, screw everyone else!

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  24. I worry that they will fire all the ATRs....did you ever consider going for a different license

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    Replies
    1. Going for a new license is an option, but you go back on probation (two years, though). On probation you start seniority on the bottom, and only after completion do you get the pevious license's seniority added on. Lots of things to juggle in the air....

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  25. Be very careful. Some of those responding to these posts might be working for Bloomberg. I wouldn't be surprized if some blogs are set up by them either.

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  26. This teacher represents most of us. We cannot find a new position because of our salaries. In the meantime the doe is hiring new teachers when the old ones cannot find jobs. This does not make any sense.

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  27. I feel so awful about this whole thing. I am still at my school, but have net a number of wonderful people over the past few weeks who would be an asset in any school. The kicker is that they have mostly been from "shortage" areas: math, Science, Foreign Language and ESL. How is this possible? They also have a number of years under their belts. No one will hire them b/c of their salary.I tried to transfer this past year and as soon as they asked about my years (which is on the resume) I got the bum's rush off the phone. My fear is that these ATRs will be sold down the river for our next raise. I will never vote for an increase at the cost of their jobs. I fear that I am in the minority with that line of thinking.

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  28. Did not read all the comments, sorry....HR connect states that we ATRs are assigned schools based on needs, regardless of the distance from our homes. Bull, sometimes I was assigned to schools 2-3 hours with traffic, sometimes 4-5 based on the weather, but the board of Ed does not care. There are many schools close to my home in need of teachers, yet i have to pass them daily to commute to ones that has no need for me since there were no teacher absences......yes, they are trying to break us, but I spent too many years, unlike other professions, educating myself, and at tenting workshops to move on to another profession. I am not an ATR because of something I did, but because of something the city failed to do.....

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  29. Working as an ATR requires different skills and strategies than the ones we hone as regularly assigned classroom teachers. Weekly rotation is very challenging, especially for an old dog like me. Compared to the weekly rotation experience, regular classroom assignments begin to look a lot easier. I think all teachers should be rotated in and out of classrooms on a weekly basis, from the ninth grade and onwards. Why not? Kids get sick of having the same teacher all year and they don't learn more from getting stuck with a teacher whose teaching style is incompatible with their learning style. At least on rotation, all students get a chance to sample different teaching styles. If the curriculum maps were better organized, what difference would it make if the course were taught by Teacher A for a week and Teacher B for the next. After all, ours is not to question why, as subordinates, aren't we expected to do our best, in exchange for a pay check? Teachers "enable" students by making them dependent on our personalities. It's all part of the commodity dependence that schools foster in our culture. A little independent and self-reliance thinking couldn't hurt, n'est-pas?

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