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Friday, September 14, 2012

The Curse of the ATR

We thought that we had heard it all, but this one's really novel: a fellow lands in the ATR after being accused by his Principal of trying to put a curse on her.  This new contributor goes by the name of Burn Down the House. 

That I was accused of "putting a curse on" my Principal, which she said while testifying at my 3020a hearing, and that I was accused of therefore having caused her to have two car accidents and of causing her house to burn down, should not be any great surprise. After all, she had no teaching experience, and went straight from being a Parent Coordinator at the district office,  to assistant Principal, and then to the Leadership Academy to become the Principal of a Brooklyn high school.

She, like her cronies--the two assistant Principals who belong to the same sorority--doesn't have the background to see beyond theoretical teaching practices. This triumvirate is totally consumed by teaching jargon and the educational theory du jour.

I say all of this about them not necessarily to judge them to be "bad people." But they don't know any better, and they have been well schooled by Bloomberg and his DOE business pals. In fact, they'd probably say that they are only "doing their jobs," as they understand their jobs to be.

In other words, if the manner in which I "check for understanding" doesn't specifically involve an "exit slip," or having the "scholars" hold up fingers--one to five--to signify understanding; if I simply look at student work, or talk to them, I'm not really "checking for understanding"! The DOE is more interested in appearances than actuality.

Never mind that my students had the highest Regents outcomes for all transfer high schools in the borough, in the subject I teach: Chemistry.

Unfortunately, the DOE, like the UFT, has become too big to fail. Both are self-serving giant machines that are not "aligned" (another favorite buzzword) with truly serving the students. My former principal and her cronies felt so threatened by an experienced teacher of a subject she clearly had no grasp of (by the way, I taught her own daughter in summer school, who then passed the Chem Regents at the end of that summer) who didn't fit into the convenient boxes she'd been fit into at the Leadership Academy, that she seems to believe I actually had the power and ability to "put a curse on her" and to cause her house to burn down. Go figure. 

A scene from the film "Stand and Deliver"
There's so much more I could say, and perhaps I will in a future post, such as this can of worms: How many teachers' standardized test outcomes relate more to students' poor attendance, social promotion, and their own personal impediments to doing homework, showing up to school rested, etc.? Is it really ALL the teachers' fault, if the outcomes "on paper" are not reminiscent of "Stand and Deliver" -- which incidentally took 10 years in real life for the kids in that underperforming school to finally do so well on the AP exams? (The movie makes it look like it only took about a year!)

I am not a "rest on your laurels and pull out the same old tired lesson plans from years ago" teacher! I prepare PowerPoints and SmartBoards, and I practically stand on my head on a daily basis if I think it will cause my students to better understand and apply the concepts. (Never mind that I also had to beg, borrow, and steal from other teachers, to gain access to an out-of-date SmartBoard, while most of the faculty enjoyed the benefits of the school being an "I-Zone" School!)

Bottom line, for now: I just wish I could get out of the ATR pool and get back to teaching the "second-chancers" that I've taught most of my career. I'd gladly work in prisons, suspension centers, or transfer schools, if that's the only regular teaching gig there is for me. In fact, I'd be thrilled to teach kids in these kinds of places, OR in a regular school--whatever regular classroom assignment I could get. Why can't these huge machines, the UFT and the DOE, just allow me to use my talents for what I was hired and trained for over these years, to do what I do best, and what I love to do--teach?

The many layers of bureaucracy make it impossible for even a teacher vindicated from 3020a charges, like myself, to get back on track! Who ever heard of a Board of Education that can't simply assign a teacher to a school (other than as a temporary substitute)?


  1. Thank you for the post. It is amazing how Bloomberg's DOE has created such difficult work environments for so many of us. The level of racial and economic segregation of NYC students due to the school reorganizations are unprecedented in my opinion. Visiting 33 schools last year allowed me to see the best, some in the middle and some at the bottom. It is very obvious to me that it really is not about the teachers, but the students and the administration. The most difficult environments have the leadership academy types in them and do not make them attractive places to invest yourself.

  2. The UFT will not address these concerns. It is up to us, the ATRs, to come together as a group, and actually advocate on our goals.

    ATRs, please come to the GEM/ATR Committee,
    will meet at the Starlight Diner, at 402 W 34th Street (SW corner of 9th Avenue), Manhattan,
    at 5:30 PM, on Thursday, September 20, 2012

    The committee will address ATRs' concerns, which go neglected by our union,
    and how to accomplish ATRs' goals.


  3. When do we all wise up and redistribute the union wealth we are handing over to these useless parastic hacks who have no interest in anything but protecting their own selfish asses? In Buffalo we needed NYSUT to send some legal help when the district decided to blow off the ruling of an arbitrator who told them it was illegal to transfer 50% of a faculty from a :"failing' school, some of whom were actually going to be transferred to another "failing" school (wtf?). Well NYSUT was busy ass kissing with Plutocrats for Ed Reform and applauding Rahmbo's speech down North Carolina way and they just couldn't be bothered so the union had to hire a lawyer on its own. With this kind of blatant "up yours" message we're getting from union "leadership" we need to return it where it hurts. Right in their expense accounts. Oh and Ianuzzi was put on Prince Andrew Cuomo's Do Not Admit List for the Convention along with Danny Donohue and two other major labor figures (why did labor endorse this Mini Rahmbo with a New York crust for governor?) and they were all told they could call and beg to be reinstated to the big Dumbocrat dance if they promised to behave, Dick Ianuzzi just called his dear friends in the DNC and they took care of him. Aint it grand to have your political friends look out for you? Shame they don't give a rat's ass about teachers.

  4. Our union is totally full of crap. I posted the following on their facebook page and they deleted it.

    The billion dollar question: how did my union make take a vote on our contract with out taking a vote from the members. You voted and mo...See More

    NYC Absent Teacher Reserve Support
    Tenured teachers with NYC Department of Education are in excess due a clause in their contract and this has now made them ATR's