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Monday, July 2, 2012

What is an ATR?

Diane Ravitch
If you're looking for one great blog to follow (other than this one) I recommend Diane Ravitch's Blog.  The Divine Diane has her gentle finger on the pulse of education issues from New York City, the U.S.A. and the world over.

In a recent post, Dr. Ravitch responded to some readers from outside of NYC who wondered what an ATR is. Here is her response, together with a long quotation from one our colleagues:

I have explained that {an ATR} is a teacher who used to work in a school that was “phased out” and replaced by new schools. This is the Bloomberg administration’s central strategy of school reform: close and replace, close and replace, repeat and repeat. 
The teachers who lose their jobs have not been evaluated. They may be great teachers. They just happened to have the bad luck to teach in a closing school. If they are experienced teachers, other principals may reject them because their salaries are too high. So they become wanderers in the school system. They become members of the Absent Teacher Reserve, floating from school to school, a week at a time in each. They are lost souls in a soul-less system run by the greatest minds of our generation. 
I heard from an ATR today. He or she can tell you what life is like for an ATR:

Dear Diane, 

I am a 21 year veteran atr teacher. I truly appreciate your blogging. I have been subjected to the most ridiculous and hostile work environment this past year. As it stands, any teacher can become an ATR at anytime. 

The troubling thing is that my “colleagues” shun us as though we are lepers. I guess its just not cricket to be seen talking to us. The prevailing meme is that we must be “bad” teachers. 

The administration treats us like subs and even calls me a sub to my face. Imagine being informed in your email each week where you will be working the following week. At each school there is a different schedule, so forget dealing with your own children, holding a second job, going to school or even per session. The algorithm that the NYCDOE claims to use in the placement of the ATR underclass, includes distance from home as a major factor. For thirty of the thirty four schools I was sent to, the travel time each way was two hours minimum. 

As an ATR I have no democratic rights. We have no chapter. The only proper description of the treatment we have recieved at the hands of the DOE and its HR enforcement arm, the UFT has been constructive discharge.

Click here to read the full article. 

1 comment:

  1. Being an ATR is a 50/50 experience. Half of me is bothered by the fact since I am a good teacher and proud to say so, I find it humiliating to be considered just a "sub". The other half of me feels that the DOE is so screwed up that this is a piece of cake, since I do not have to do anything. I take the humiliation, shrug my shoulders and leave each school on Friday with a smirk and a paycheck.