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Saturday, March 17, 2012

I had a dream
I had a dream a few nights ago.

I had a dream that I was together with hundreds of teachers at a Professional Development day required by the DOE.

I had a dream.

I had a dream that before lunch time, a UFT rep announced that there would be a union meeting in Room 204.  We all got up and headed for the staircase so we could go to Room 204. 

I had a dream.

I had a dream that as I climbed the stairs I was thinking of some things I would like to say to the UFT up there in Room 204.  I would like to tell them about my three years of frustration as a member of the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR); I would like to tell them how present ATR teachers are being shuffled around their districts on a weekly basis; I would like to tell them how ridiculous it is that these teachers are now being evaluated by some macabre creation of bureaucracy called Field Supervisors; I would like to tell them that ATR teachers have been disenfranchised from voting for a chapter leader because they do not belong to any chapter; I would like to tell them how I once mentioned all this to a UFT rep who visited my school, and his answer was to repeat, like some automaton, "But we saved their jobs." 

I had a dream that my blood pressure was rising as I climbed those steps.

We all had a bit of trouble finding the room, but finally we were there.  There must have been about a hundred of us, all standing in a classroom.  A UFT representative began to speak.  She told us that we shouldn't complain about the difficulties of "differentiating instruction" because the idea was first proposed by John Dewey in 1911.  We also shouldn't complain about excessive observations or unfair evaluations, because nothing in the Collective Bargaining Agreement limits the number of times that a supervisor can observe a teacher.

Then the UFT rep began to show us a video on the classroom's SmartBoard.
In the foreground, a man stood and babbled some kind of motivational psychobabble.  In the background, there was a huge circular object, sort of like a giant Frisbee.  As the man in the foreground babbled, workers began loading hundreds of oranges into a hole in the center of the Frisbee.  

And then the man announced that the flying saucer would now take off.  There was a loud noise which seemed to emanate from somewhere underneath the huge pile of oranges and then the oranges were sucked into the saucer.

A few seconds later, streams of orange juice began to squirt out of hundreds of little holes in the sides of the flying saucer.  The orange juice created a jet stream that pushed the flying saucer up into the air and far away.

The announcer on the screen gushed with enthusiasm.  And then the dream was over, and the meeting was over.  

Comrades, what does this dream mean?  Does it mean that my mother diapered me incorrectly?  Does it mean that I lust after orange juice?

Or does the UFT Orange-Juice Flying Saucer video represent the union's tactics of distraction?
Does my dream mean that I am frustrated with the UFT for publishing big colorful pages about American citizens losing their voting rights, but nary a word about members of their own union who have lost those same rights?

Does it mean that I am frustrated with the UFT for promising continued meetings with ATR teachers to discuss their concerns, and instead gave them Professional Development sessions, to which only some of them were invited? 

How do you interpret my dream?  Do you dare to try?


  1. It is astounding how disconnected ATRs are from the real world. In any other district, let alone company, if there are not enough positions for everyone, you are fired, let go, laid off, whatever word you choose.

    Instead, you still get your entire salary--which is pensionable--and most don't even get reviewed.

    How do I sign up for this life?

    1. Where did you hear that "there are not enough positions for everyone" in the NYC DOE? Class sizes have been rising for the last 5 years, while Bloomberg allows qualified teachers to languish in the ATR. If he were the financial genius that he claims to be, he would deploy these teachers in the most effective manner possible--by putting them into classrooms and letting them teach.

      Most ATR teachers are not evaluated? Until this year, they were evaluated by the principal of the school to which they were assigned for the year. It is only this year, when the DOE came up with the absurd idea of rotating teachers on a weekly basis, that most ATR teachers are not being observed and evaluated, except those unfortunate souls who are being pestered by Field Supervisors.

  2. If you're a teacher with an assignment, Anonymous, you find an ATR and offer him/her to switch your position with them.

    If you're not a teacher, you're just another one of those holier-than-thou outsiders who are full of crap.