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Sunday, April 29, 2012

ATR teachers react to Mulgrew's re-election bid

Good morning, class.  This is a flyer that will be distributed to all UFT members.  As you will soon see, it's encouraging all of us to re-elect Michael Mulgrew to another term as UFT President. 

People in the front row, please take one flyer for yourself and pass the others back.

Now, here's your assignment:
     *Examine the poster, especially the second checked
                    OF OUR ATR's
    *Write your reactions in the Comments section below.
    *If you feel like throwing up, don't bother to raise your
     hand; just leave the room quickly and quietly. 


Picture credit:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Good News, Bad News

DOCTOR: I have some good news and some bad news.

PATIENT: Okay, Doc.  Let me hear the good news first.

DOCTOR: The good news is that your chances for survival are much better than we thought.

PATIENT: That's great, Doc. So what's the bad news?

DOCTOR: The bad news is that you were only seriously ill in the first place because of my poor diagnosis and criminally negligent treatments. 

No, that is not very funny.  But it is an accurate metaphor for a good-news story that appeared in Monday's New York Times SchoolBook.  The Old Gray Lady reported that the number of teachers in the ATR (Absent Teacher Reserve) has fallen to its lowest point in several years. A year ago, there were 1,139 teachers in the ATR; this April, there are only 831.

Both the DOE and the UFT credit the decrease to the agreement, reached last summer, under which ATR teachers are reassigned each week to a different school.  As the Times puts it, "the game of musical chairs" has allowed teachers to meet a wide range of principals, thus exposing them to a larger variety of job opportunities. 

So what's the bad news?  That none of this was necessary.
*It was not necessary to remove so many teachers from their original positions.  Most of them lost their positions because the Mayor decided to close their schools due to poor performance--performance that has much more to do with mayoral neglect than with teacher incompetence.

*It was not necessary to sentence these teachers to the ATR Purgatory. The Collective Bargaining Agreement--signed by the Mayor, the Chancellor, and the UFT--stipulates that teachers in excess "must be placed in vacancies within [their] district to the fullest degree possible" (see Article 17, Rule 4).  With both class sizes and teacher attrition rates rising rapidly, the DOE (and its frequent accomplice, the UFT) could have killed three birds with one stone by placing the vast majority of excessed teachers in vacancies within their districts.  

*It was not necessary to subject teachers to the indignity of weekly reassignment in order to acquaint them with a wide range of principals.  The DOE could have relied on the job fairs that it held for several years, and it could have made them meaningful for experienced, excessed teachers.  Instead, those who attended these fairs saw many empty tables that should have been occupied by principals, and many young Teaching Fellows, who should never have had a chance for a job as long as qualified, veteran employees were still looking for positions. 

And so, dear colleagues, we congratulate those of you who have found new positions.  Best wishes for a long and healthy career.  And take our advice: find a better doctor. 

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Take me to your leader

A Martian landed at Tweed Courthouse the other day and commanded the first bureaucrat he spotted, "Take me to your leader." Did the pencil-pusher lead the green creature to the Chancellor? to the Mayor? to the State Commissioner of Education? None of the above. He led the alien to the corporate headquarters of Pearson publishing, who claim to be "neutral" providers of assessment materials.

A blogger named  Ariel Sacks begs to differ with that "neutral" tag:

It is not neutral to give an outside for-profit company sole control over the assessment of our children's learning, hold that up as evidence of our teaching quality, and then require teachers to keep silent about the particulars of these measures. This feels like an instrument of control out of a very different era than the one in which I thought I lived.

Read the complete article at

Picture credit:

An Eternal Truth

One of my favorite bloggers has eloquently formulated one of my favorite observations about the teaching profession:
That is why when an administrator says they intend to do something for the sake or safety of “the children”, you better run the other way. This means a teacher is going to get harassed. It is just like Napoleon who made all of his reforms in the name of “the people” of France.
To read the full article, go to The Assailed Teacher.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Need an experienced teacher? Call an ATR teacher!

"The [NYC school] districts with higher poverty rates have fewer experienced and highly educated teachers and less stable teaching staffs, while districts with lower poverty rates have more highly educated teachers and more stable teaching staffs."
So reports the Schott Foundation, in a recent document entitled "A Rotting Apple: Education Redlining in New York City."  

How interesting that the people over at the Schott Foundation believe that students in districts with high poverty rates should have more "experienced and highly educated teachers"! Mayor Bloomberg believes that the way to improve education in high poverty neighborhoods is to close the schools, drive the experienced educators into meaningless positions in the ATR (Absent Teacher Reserve), and replace them with 22-year olds who may not even have any college preparation to be teachers. 

Of course, we should always trust the Mayor's judgement; after all, no-one alive today knows more about education than Mayor Bloomberg, besides, perhaps, Michelle Rhee. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mets fans know Bloomberg's score on education

My beloved brothers and sisters, the long-suffering fans of the New York Mets, are a very intelligent lot.  Read what was reported about them in a blog called mets2006:

At the Mets [2012] opening day representatives from the branches of the Armed Forces sang the Star Spangled Banner to the applause of the 40,000 fans, and, to my surprise loudly booed as Mayor Bloomberg was introduced.
The guy standing next to Queens Councilman
Peter Vallone is a transplanted Red Sox fan named
Michael Bloomberg.

The baseball-savvy blogger concludes: 
The crowd at Citi Field, those beloved New York Mets fans had it right – the Mayor deserved to be booed – the crowd is wise indeed.
To find out why the Mayor deserves the opprobrium of fans of all teams, click here to read the entire article. 

Photo credit:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Attack of the Wall-eyed

We have all had the experience: supervisors, usually two or more levels removed from the classroom, come to visit our schools. Do they observe our teaching? Do they observe (or even notice) the students and their behavior, which is often the biggest barrier of all to educating them properly? 

No.  They stare at the bulletin boards on the walls.  They check to see if the student work is current, if it is accompanied by the correct Common Core Standards, by the latest politically correct Task Card and teacher comment style, if it is neat, attractive, and if the papers are attached to the board by the requisite four staples, no less, no more.

NYCATR's staff cartoonist has explored the situation in pictures and words. Although we think his draftmanship makes James Thurber look like Rembrandt, we think you'll be amused by this cartoon's presumption.