The following report was submitted by our contributor known as Absolutely Teaching Ready.
On October 21, over 50 ATR teachers and friends met at the Skylight Diner in Manhattan. Enthusiasm ran high, sometimes too high, as the diner management requested us to try to keep our voices down.
We agreed to give life to the ATR committee of GEM, we created several committees to publicize our plight, we discussed future actions at the UFT and possible legal recourse for the discriminatory practices against veteran teachers.
Support for a UFT chapter for ATR teachers ran high. Truth is, if Michael Mulgrew's figure of 1000 ATRs is correct, 5% of us were there last night! This is an auspicious beginning.
One weakness, however, is that we need to reach out to get more ATRs to participate, especially Black and Hispanic UFT members who are ATRs. Given the preponderance of people of color at the recent borough meetings, this will be critical for our group's success.
There was general agreement with the thrust of GEM's literature and the demands in the petition. On this basis, we should move forward to request meetings with UFT leaders on the statistics the Union has collected concerning the age and race demographics of ATRs, numbers hired since June, average length of time in the ATR pool, and salaries.
The restraint of last night's attendees was indicative of their seriousness. People refrained from talking about their own difficult situations to insure that the discussion would be more general, enabling us to come to broad areas of agreement.
Several people tied our issue into the broader crises facing the education system, such as privatization through charters, school closures and budget cuts. Also singled out was the DOE's overall effort to cheapen and dumb down education for working class children. Others discussed increasing unemployment, budget cuts, the issues raised by the Occupy Wall Street movement and our need to defend teaching.
Photo credit: http://www.skylightdinernyc.com/sites/1157/images/skylightdinerwelcome.jpg