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Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Love Letter of Ms. R. ATR

NYCATR welcomes a new contributor, Ms. R. ATR.  We predict that she'll be a star. 

September 15, 2011

Dear DOE, 

Thank you so much for keeping me in the Absent Teacher Reserve. I am so looking forward to enjoying all my time this year, traveling from school to school, from job fair to job fair. 

It’s been so much fun hanging out with other teachers at the “DOE Recruitment Job Fair” at the Armory in upstate Manhattan. They have so much experience; so many years of teaching. Wow. We get to know each other so well as we wait in lines, wrapped around the Armory, waiting for those big burly security guards to let us get into another line. It’s fun to wait and talk. We talk about so many interesting things. My, but these teachers are so very bright. As we’re herded three flights up to another line, I think about all the students they have inspired. As I line up again and again to wait for an interview, I so appreciate this opportunity to learn about my colleagues. Why, this social studies teacher in front of me studied American history at Yale during her summer vacation. She wanted to learn more so she’d be a better teacher. On her vacation! This sweet fellow behind me spent much of his time after school, tutoring students who needed that extra attention. Lots of time he didn’t get paid for. I’m so moved. Dear DOE, it’s so nice of you to get us all together so we can share our stories in line after line. This is mad collegial stuff. 

Thank you also for assigning us to a different school each week. It should be really great to get around the city and meet new people. Every school is so different in its own way. Thing is, the classes we get to cover when a teacher is out are so much bigger this year. I’ve already substituted in a class with 37 students. It’s awesome to meet so many students at one time. When I was teaching in my regular position, our classes only went up to 25 students. That was certainly challenging for me–to make sure every student was seen, heard and given any special attention he or she may have needed to insure success. But 37 or 40 students in a class! That’s amazing! There are bound to be some pretty cool video games going on in the back of the rooms. 

There are about 1500 teachers in the ATR and they are all at the Armory today. Attendance is mandatory. I look around. Geeze….most of them are at least 50 years old. I guess younger teachers are still in schools. Gosh…there’s supposed to be a hiring freeze. But everybody on line seems to know about a new teacher who’s just been hired in their old school. How come? Oh, I get it. They must want to get more youngsters in the school. After all, they can hire two brand new spanking teachers for the price of one more experienced teacher. Can you blame them? Of course, most of these young teachers are like deer in headlights for their first year or so of teaching. 

Big classes? Not for sissys, lemme tell ya. But these older teachers, with their lifetime of skills, cost more money to keep. I understand. With less money in the budget, it must be hard to figure out who gets to stay and who gets to be “excessed.” After all, even you guys at the DOE must hate these cuts. I know some of you have been great educators and I’m so glad you’re still there. Maybe you could teach some of these administrative guys (who’ve never worked in a classroom) about the importance of keeping class size down. I mean, what if they volunteered to maybe a 5% cut in their own hefty salaries. That one little step might help reduce class size. But that’s probably asking too much. Especially if they just put that new addition on their country home. The marble floor’s being shipped from Italy. Boy does that cost money! 

Still, it’s nice to know you guys at the DOE are putting us older teachers together. Kind of preparing us for assisted living, I guess. That’ll be fun. I won’t have to do my own housework. But as I’m looking around this Armory, I’d guess most of these teachers average about 20 years each of teaching experience. 20 years times 1500 teachers. Wow, that’s 33,000 teaching years! Imagine that! 33,000 teaching years are standing in line here in the Armory hoping to find one out of maybe 10 jobs available. 

You know what was going on 33,000 years ago? I just looked it up. 33,000 years ago Neanderthals were roaming the Earth. Imagine that. I mean…and I’m just thinking out loud here…33,000 teaching years standing in lines at the Armory…Class size is swelling. Neanderthals. Teachers. DOE. Go ahead–you make your own joke. 

In a couple of weeks, you’re going to send us to a new school every week. That should be fun. I sure hope you have enough time and money to pay all your DOE employees to herd us around town week after week. That’s really going to cost you and I certainly hope it’s not too much of a headache. 

Have a nice Fall. 



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