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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Job Fair Tales, by Life in Limbo

Our ace contributor, Life in Limbo, reports about the DOE's job fairs, where thousands of ATR teachers have wasted millions of hours. 

One of the singular privileges of being an ATR teacher is the opportunity to attend “job fairs” hosted by the Teacher Hiring Support Center (THSC). Usually held at the Brookyn Museum, they are a type of speed-dating where ATRs walk around, resumes in hand, and stand on line for interviews with schools with vacancies in their license area, while admiring fine art.

The first of today’s job fair stories begins in late May. I had realized that I hadn’t gotten any emails from the THSC recently and decided to check the their website myself. After a considerable amount of digging, I found a calendar of four job fairs, none of which had been brought to my attention! Two of the dates had already passed without my knowledge that these events were happening! I read further and saw that these events were by “invitation only."  

No problem, I thought, I’ll just request an invitation. I emailed the THSC of my intention to attend the next job fair and requested my invitation. I checked my contact information in the website (all correct) and waited. The following day, I was sent an email by THSC stating that my qualifications were being reviewed and that the event was by invitation only; should THSC feel that I am a good match for this event, I would certainly receive an invitation. The invitation never came. When I asked the THSC why I never received it, I was told to “Watch your email for invitations to future events!” 

Apparently, I was not the only ATR who was not notified of this event, as fellow blogger Chaz has noted.  I also heard from a UFT representative that this fair was for Teaching Fellows only, and that there would be separate events for ATRs over the summer. This made me wonder why the new hires were getting first crack at vacancies while ATRs (who are ALREADY DOE EMPLOYEES) were being forced to pick over the crumbs after the newbies got first crack at the jobs. My borough UFT office said they’d look into this and get back to me. I am still waiting. 

The second of today’s job fair stories begins a few weeks ago, in early July. I was up at my UFT borough office on a simple, unrelated errand. My eye wandered to a stack of handouts on a table bearing the THSC logo. I picked one up and saw that it was a flyer announcing five summer job fairs for ATRs, some by borough, others for schools throughout the City. Since the flyer stated that ALL ATRs would be invited to attend, I took a copy of the flyer and began checking my email for the invitations. No invitations ever came. 

I was able to attend the job fair last Tuesday, however, and did gain entry by having the representative at the check-in desk look me up on the computer. (What happened at the job fair is another post for another day.)  But the question kept nagging me: Why is it so difficult to get invited to job fairs that are allegedly being held FOR YOU?? And how many other ATRs who, like me, WANT to find permanent placement, are not being told of these events? Why would the THSC, and by extension, the DOE , NOT want us to attend these events they go to the trouble and expense of organizing? Is it possible that they do not WANT us placed? I think so.

If we are not aware of these fairs and do not attend them, the Post, then News, and every op-ed piece will focus on the lazy ATRs who didn’t bother to show up for the six job fairs the DOE so painstakingly organized JUST FOR THEM. This, in turn, strengthens their position that the ATRs should be the first to go during layoffs and that seniority rights must be eliminated to make this happen. After all, they must be lazy and unmotivated if they can’t be bothered to attend six job fairs held in their honor. 

Are we being used as pawns in Bloomberg’s “End LIFO” battle and set up to look lazy and unmotivated?  It certainly looks that way from here.  

By the way, I requested an invitation to the next job fair. Anyone want to guess how it turns out?

1 comment:

  1. It sounds frustrating, but the THSC website does say that invitations are dependent on license area and vacancy needs. If there were no schools in your district with reading vacancies at these fairs, then you might not have been missing much. I agree with a commenter on an earlier post that securing a position under your ELA license (even as a probationer, if the school/administration are a good match) seems better than remaining in the ATR indefinitely under your reading license.