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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Tale of Two Resolutions

NYCATR's best-groomed writer, ATR in Perm, strikes again.

Yes, the progressives are to be applauded for raising the ATR resolution. It had some important elements, such as clear, practical provisions for helping teachers to pursue new licenses.

However, crucial aspects are missing from the resolution:
  1. Borough-wide elected representatives for ATRs. 
  2. Rejection of any open-ended or loosely-defined ATR evaluation procedure by “field supervisors.” (We can't forget Michael Mendel's publicly wondering out loud that the one thing that we could be evaluated on is classroom management.)

Furthermore, the December resolution lacks the qualitative substance of the November resolution.

"Kids, let's make a Venn Diagram."

Resolved: The UFT will mobilize all members to rally at Tweed & City Hall at the earliest possible date, to demand: 
1. Until Every ATR within a license has a position, no new hiring in that license. 
2. ATRs with arcane licenses, or licenses in which there are few positions, be allowed to recertify in new licenses without loss of tenure or seniority. Those who have comparable and valid state licenses should be grandfathered into those state licenses.  
3. Audit principals’ hiring for possible race and age discrimination. 
4. Restore the contractual right of excessed teachers to the closest vacancy in their license.

Compare that earlier resolution to the December one that Mendel and company endorsed:

Resolution on Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) placements:

WHEREAS the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) crisis is a clear and direct result of New York City Department of Education (DOE) policies and mismanagement; and
WHEREAS even though efforts to resolve the crisis have been partially successful, the DOE still has not kept its promises nor met its moral and professional obligations to ATRs and has thereby wasted valuable human and economic resources; and
WHEREAS maintaining fairness and increasing productivity in the city’s teaching force require that the talents of all educators be utilized in service to students, parents and school communities; and
WHEREAS solutions to the ATR crisis need to be proposed and implemented without delay in order to maximize productivity, teaching and learning in New York City public schools; therefore be it
RESOLVED that the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) call upon the DOE to create a recertification program for ATRs for designated shortage areas and allow participating ATRs to take the requisite course work at the City University of New York (CUNY) free of charge or be reimbursed for the related costs of attending a private college or university at the CUNY rate per credit; and be it further
RESOLVED that the UFT urge the DOE to require that all ATRs be given an opportunity for permanent placement in vacancies in their license areas in their district or high school superintendency before the DOE approves any new hire in a license area where an ATR has not been given an opportunity for permanent placement; and be it further
RESOLVED that the UFT urge the DOE to place all ATRs into vacancies in their district or high school superintendency after September 15 of any given year on a provisional basis; and be it further
RESOLVED that the UFT urge the DOE to allow principals and ATRs at the end of the school year to either mutually agree to have ATRs as permanent staff members or allow them to return to the ATR pool.

Key points on the ATR issue that the resolution skipped over in the December version:
a) Unity-UFT created this mess with its approval of the 2005 contract (granted, this part will never fly, until another caucus replaces Unity's dominance);
b) the excessed position explosion stems directly from the schools closure policy (the urgency of which Unity only woke up to in the last couple of years);
c) the degradation of student programs leads to the mass demise of certain licenses: the student block programming of doubled-up English (“ELA”) and math classes (e.g., 5 periods of ELA alternated with math, to meet NCLB test mania prerogatives) crowds out student exposure to the arts, foreign languages (especially those other than Spanish), science, social studies and school libraries, thus creating the mass excessing of ATRs(ATRs are especially alert that instead of in-house art or dance instructors, these topics are delivered sporadically from private foundations outside of the DOE, and Rosetta Stone software is replacing live foreign language instructors.)
d) ultimately, the ATR crisis is the direct result of the UFT's somnolent response until Winter, 2011, to Bloomberg's tidal wave of school closures. The break-up of the large high schools directly relates to the narrowing of course offerings and the explosion of ATR numbers. (of course, the wave of school closures so far has mainly hit the high schools; wait 'til they hit elementary schools, the bedrock of Unity support.)

I applaud the progressives for their ATR resolutions, Michael Mendel for apologizing for dissing the October ATR resolution and the UFT District Assembly bosses for authorizing assent to the resolution,but I'd like to know which part of the December resolution tackles the issues of ATR representation, possible race/age discrimination in the ATR excessing patterns, the DOE refusal to abide in good faith to a hiring freeze and work to place ATRs in assignments in their licenses, and the argument that the massive elimination of/excessing of job assignment categories should NOT be leaving the system.

At core, the notion that ATRs must wander the system, hat in hand, begging for a position is more of a free-market situation than a system that a union can be proud of.

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