The following is the first offering of a new contributor to NYCATR. His name is Angel Gonzalez. He is a founding member of the GEM ATR Committee, and we hope he will continue to contribute his information and opinions to NYCATR.
Sept. 13, 2011
Washington Heights Armory, 169th Street Manhattan
Teachers line up outside the Armory, waiting to enter the job fair.
Over 300 excessed teachers, members of the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) lined up for another DOE sponsored job fair today, where most will not find permanent jobs.
It was another one of those summer mandatory futile job searches where ATR teachers are obligated to attend and where only a few will land a job.
Most at today's job fair were clearly senior, veteran, higher-paid excessed teachers and over 50% were Black and Latino.
Principals generally will hire the younger inexperienced teachers who are paid less and tend not to know their labor rights--thus more compliant to the whims of administrators. Many of those young teachers are graduates of the Teach For America pool who are inculcated with anti-union and anti-veteran teacher propaganda. Principals, facing mounting budget deficits and cuts, would be foolish to hire seasoned teachers who earn salaries between $80 - 100K yearly when the bargain is to hire two at those prices! The deck has been unfairly stacked against older, higher-paid ATR teachers.
At thhis job fair today, some expressed the hope that maybe the city will offer them an early retirement buyout.
Others shared anger at the UFT leadership for abandoning them in the 2005 contract which bargained away their right to seniority rights transfer. Now, starting in October, those ATR teachers who can not find a steady classroom job will become substitutes who will be assigned weekly to different schools in their districts to cover for absent teachers. This agreement by the UFT with Mayor Bloomberg to turn ATR teachers into traveling subs might force many to quit due to the untenable and unpredictable situation.
Bloomberg persists in seeking to eliminate tenure and the just "Last In First Out-LIFO" state protections. Should layoffs occur, without these protections, members of the ATR will surely be the first targeted for firings.
Be on the look-out also for Bloomberg's allies in our schools--a nefarious group called E4E (Educators for Excellence). This group is aggressively organizing to win over the hearts and minds of our newer teachers in this deceptive anti-tenure and anti-experienced teacher campaign that unjustly and cruelly blames them, instead of government, for the problems in our public schools.
In Chicago and Washington DC excessed teachers are given from six to nine months to find placements or else are fired. We can't let this happen here too. We can't allow our brothers and sisters to be dumped like collateral damage in this charter-privatization assault of our schools. Excessed teachers should be guaranteed a job elsewhere as was the case prior to 2005. As schools continue to be closed to be replaced with charters, hundreds more teachers will be excessed. It is estimated that it costs the city today $100M yearly!
As ATR teachers and as UFT members we will need to organize ourselves and mount the necessary political pressure to defend tenure and to restore seniority transfer rights.
Clearly no UFT officials or UFT organizers were present on the lines today to promote, defend and organize in the just interests of ATRs.
GEM ATR Committee organizers, were at today's job fair distributing leaflets and sharing our views.
ATRs R Us! Join the fight-back.
Be on the look-out for our upcoming meetings.
Contact the GEM-ATR committee at: GEMNYC@gmail.com