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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

City's Unwanted Teachers Drift Through a Life in Limbo: DNAinfo

NYCATR is pleased to present a guest article by Jon Schuppe of In compiling his story, Mr. Schuppe interviewed yours truly, and other contributors to NYCATR.  Mr. Schuppe's article is a rarity: it presents the ATR picture clearly and fairly. 

City's Unwanted Teachers Drift Through a Life in Limbo

Charles Pollak, a health teacher in in the city's Absent Teacher Reserve, was recently assigned to a day-care center in a Harlem high school. (DNAinfo/Jon Schuppe)

MANHATTAN — Hundreds of city teachers show up at schools they've never seen before every Monday morning.
The lucky ones get assigned to classrooms, maybe to teach the subject in which they were trained. Others do paperwork. And some waste hours doing nothing.

On Thursdays, they get a notice from the Department of Education telling them where to report the following week, and the cycle repeats.

This is what the DOE calls the Absent Teacher Reserve, a pool of nomadic educators who are paid their full salaries to work as substitutes. Most have been "excessed" by budget cuts or school closings and have been unable to find new jobs. Others have been liberated from the department’s notorious "rubber room," or have survived “unsatisfactory” ratings, and were deemed fit to keep teaching.

Until recently, the city allowed ATR teachers to remain at a posting for a full school term, during which the school principal could decide whether to hire them. That changed with the weekly reassignments, which went into effect in October as part of a deal with the United Federation of Teachers to avert layoffs.

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