The following report was submitted by a teacher who would like to be known as Absolutely Teaching Ready.
|Occupy Wall Street protesters read pro-ATR fliers.|
Notice that the protesters all appear to be dressed in
clean clothes and none of them are scratching due to lice.
I just came back from "Occupy Wall Street" and raised the issue of ATRS there while passing out fliers to the people at the School Discussion circle. There was a lot of support for us.
I've spent the week at a multi-school location, the former Wingate High School. The trail I am taking through the borough lets me relive some of my family history. Wingate was the high school many of my cousins went to. Now it is four schools and the one I was assigned to was the School of Public Service - Heroes. Or not. I will leave you to decide when I discuss my week and the behavior of the Principal, Ben Shuldiner.
A few years ago, Shuldiner made news as the youngest principal in the system. I think he should be making news for how he misbehaved towards teachers this week. When I checked in on Tuesday, the Principal told me that since there were four schools in the building, he would send me to wherever I was needed. I said nothing, hoping the matter would not come up. The Principal told me how he had received UFT awards for cooperating with the Union. Later that morning I was told to go upstairs and cover an 8th grade class ( I've been a high school teacher) at the School for Human Rights. When I arrived a very nice fellow who turned out to be the Principal (I didn't know it at the time) listened as I explained that my presence there was a violation of the Union-DOE agreement since I was not assigned to a campus, but to a school. I covered the class (no lesson plan was available) and spent a half hour showing pictures of Occupy Wall Street and encouraging the children to discuss the economic issues or political issues their parents may be concerned about. When I went downstairs to the Heroes school, the Principal asked me if I had a complaint about anything. I explained again that it was a contract violation to be sent upstairs. I also contacted the UFT Representative for my former school. I asked him to let me know if anything gets resolved.
There were at least two other ATRS at this location, two Haitian-American gentlemen who fit the age profile for ATRS, both in their late 50s like me. Both by the way hold math licenses, one hasn't had an appointment for three years. One was assigned to a school upstairs. When we were not assigned a class we all sat in the staff lounge of the Public Service Heroes school.
The next morning the Principal came and told our brother from upstairs he "was not allowed in the school because"--pointing at me--I had brought up the matter of assigning teachers anywhere in the building. When questioned, he told me he wanted to discuss "expectations"; I suggested we discuss my expectations, but he had other ideas.
The following day I was assigned a teacher's schedule. The school has an SBO (School Based Option). Classes are one hour long. Some days teachers have four classes and a Professional period, other days they have five periods. Since the teacher I was assigned had only four classes that day, I assumed I would have four. An hour later, I was given another class to cover; this meant that I would teach 5 hours! When I suggested that I would like to speak to the Principal I was told that I could discuss the matter with the Chapter leader during our respective lunch periods. I did that and told the Chapter leader that as I was following a teacher's schedule, I expected to get paid for an emergency coverage.
Again I contacted the UFT Rep. I hadn't heard back from him but the School Chapter leader had. So the arrangement for shifting us to other schools was ended (for now). Later, I also wrote to Amy Arundel who, to her credit, did write me in the wee hours of the night that I should be paid for a coverage.
But something else that happened that day was that during our lunch hour our friend who had been chased out of the Heroes school came down to break bread with us. There were several teachers in the staff lounge. Suddenly the Principal, Ben Shuldiner, appeared and in a gruff voice demanded to know what the brother was doing there in his school. (The obvious answer, of course, was that he was eating a sandwich.)
"Get out!", he shouted at him. "Get out now!" I told the principal he was behaving inappropriately. I asked him why he was doing this. He asked me, "Is that a question? I am not going to answer it!" When the UFT brother began to get his things together slowly (i.e., not fast enough for the principal) Shuldiner told him he was going to get security. Our fellow ATR left and a few minutes later the Principal returned with a Security Guard.
Later that day our third ATR was watching a class and as the students attended to their assignments, he opened up a book. The Principal came into the room and started shouting at him, in front of the students, "Close the book now!"
The three of us have talked about this and I've asked them to contact the UFT Borough Reps to complain about the way they were treated. The behavior of the Principal towards them was markedly different in tone from me. It was, in my opinion, abusive and racist. What's more, when another Principal in the building tried to speak to Shuldiner about his behavior with the ATR, he refused to meet.
The entire week demonstrated to me why ATRS need their own chapter leaders. I've requested that the UFT Reps develop a list of items that both UFT members who are ATRS and the Principals they are assigned to should know to maintain contract compliance. These should include the matter of multi-school locations and how ATRS can be fairly treated when assigned to schools with SBOs.
I would like to point out that the system is ripe for abuse and without guidelines and clarity the ATRS are likely to suffer. I will keep all informed whether I get paid for the "emergency coverage" and whether or not the Principal hears from the District Rep about his abusive, even racist behavior.
Next stop? Why the High Schools for Sports Management in the former Lafayette High School Campus, Bensonhurst. I left Bensonhurst 54 years ago when I was five years old, as my family was movin' on up to Canarsie. But now I am back in the old 'hood. I hope I have a quiet week.