We rated the articles based on the information they provided and also how well they give the ATR's side. In other words, are they objective? The ICEBLOG believes, as British folk rocker Billy Bragg said many years ago in It Says Here, "There are two sides to every story."
Here are some statistics on the ATR pool we learn from Friday's press reports:
- There were 822 teachers assigned to the pool as of the end of the school year in June. We do not know if provisional teachers who had an assignment for a term or all of last school year but were not hired permanently were part of that calculation.
- 25% were in the ATR pool for at least five years.
- The vast majority of the ATR teachers are there because of school closing or program downsizing.
- More ATRs are rated ineffective or unsatisfactory compared to other teachers.
- ATRs are more experienced compared to the average teacher and ATRs are paid much more than than new teachers.
- Almost half of ATRs come from high schools.
The Times' Kate Taylor in her story quotes two principals, a DOE, a former administrator who now heads a artificial turf education organization, a retired principal, the head of another artificial turf education organization, UFT President Michael Mulgrew and finally an ATR gets a one sentence quote on the unfairness of the ratings of ATRs.
This pathetic piece of clearly biased reporting gets a grade of D on the ICEBLOG objective journalism barometer. I have taught introductory journalism courses for three terms so I know a little about trying to look for objectivity.
As for the Daily News, our old friend Ben Chapman highlights the spotty records of the ATRs in his totally one sided piece. He quotes the Department of Education administrator in charge of the ATRs, Randy Asher, and some artificial turf organization head. No teacher or UFT leader even gets a hint of a quote from Ben.
The Daily News gets an F- on the ICEBLOG objectivity scale. It is a totally biased piece quoting only school administration and a public school critic but not bothering to quote a teacher. I'll try to be fair and say Ben might have tried but the editor could have edited it out.
Now off to Chalkbeat.org, otherwise known as Charterschools.org because of their pro charter slant on all things education. Christina Veiga is the not so intrepid journalist here. Christina cites a whole load of data and quotes DOE's Randy Asher and the leader of an artificial turf pro-charter schools group.
She takes a dig at the ATRs by saying:
Almost half the educators who are currently in the pool were also there two years ago. A quarter were in the ATR five years ago. That doesn’t mean that teachers have remained in the ATR for that entire time. They could have been hired for a time, and returned to the pool.
Still, the figures could be fuel for those who argue educators in the ATR either aren’t seriously looking for permanent jobs — or that the educators in the pool are simply undesirable hires.
ATRs won't bark on command and pass students who don't deserve to pass because we are veterans. We must be bad teachers.
Veiga goes on by saying:
Teachers in the ATR have argued that their higher salaries are one reason principals avoid hiring them — a concern that principals voiced in a recent Chalkbeat report.
“This is part of the injustice of the ATR placement,” said Scott Conti, principal of New Design High School in Manhattan. “Schools might not want them and they will cost schools more in the future, taking away from other budget priorities.”
Under the policy announced Friday, the education department will subsidize the cost of ATRs who are permanently hired, paying 50 percent of their salaries next school year and 25 percent the following school year.
If you want to know the certification areas of ATRs, we learn from Veiga:
The largest share of teachers in the ATR — 27 percent — are licensed to teach in early childhood or elementary school grades. Another 11 percent are licensed social studies teachers, 9 percent are math teachers and 8 percent are English teachers.
Veiga does say something on behalf of the ATRs in terms of ratings when she writes:
Some teachers in the ATR say evaluations can be unfair since teachers are often placed in classrooms outside of the subjects they are equipped to teach and because they are bounced between classrooms.
It is not quite a quote from an ATR but it is as close as we are likely to get from Charterschools.org. In the end, there is a principal, a DOE administrator and an artificial turf organization leader that are quoted.
Chalkbeat gets about a D+ on the ICEBLOG objective journalism scale because while their bias is clear, they do provide a great deal of information, some of which we can use to argue for the ATRs point of view.
Finally, we go to the NY Post. There is actually a fairly balanced piece done by Selim Algar. He starts off with the usual criticism of the ATRs and then he finds another artificial turf organization leader to quote but identifies the organization as a "pro charter group." This person says it's too hard to fire teachers because of UFT power Yawn, yawn, yawn and not true. Funny how they don't have to back up a statement with data but teachers have to.
Algar then surprisingly gives a real life ATR a chance to make the case for the teachers.
But others counter that most ATR teachers were not out-and-out fired for misconduct and deserved another shot inside a classroom if eventually cleared.
“A principal can get rid of a teacher because of a personal vendetta that has nothing to do with their performance,” a current ATR teacher told The Post.
"A lot of us are older teachers who just cost too much, and we get let go because of it. They want to tar us all and it's just not the reality of the situation."
The last person the Post quotes is UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
I give the Post a grade of B on the ICEBLOG objective journalism scale. I would like to see our side up higher in the piece and the emphasis a little different but that is probably the editors more than the writer.
Kate Taylor, Ben Chapman, Christina Veiga, and Selim Algar my name is James Eterno. Ben knows me. I taught for 28 years at Jamaica High School and I was placed in excess when the school was unfairly closed based on data that Arthur Goldstein and I showed was faulty and we were never refuted by the DOE. I was relegated to the ATR pool and made the best of a difficult three months in 2014 when I had to rotate to different schools. How did Epoch Times manage to find ATR Francesco Portelos and me but the education reporters from three major publications and a pro-charter school website cannot find a group of ATRs to speak to you on or off the record that you can cite in your articles? Hard to believe.
I will be happy to talk to any of you about my experiences and I represent a huge group of teachers. The majority of New York City Public High School teachers who voted, choose me to be their Vice President in the 2016 UFT election. I'm not in office only because UFT election rules allow people from elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, non teachers and UFT retirees to all vote for the High School Vice President. I'm fairly confident saying I represent more real people than any of the artificial turf organizations you quote so often. My email address is right on this blog.
I saw ATRs unfairly being given poor ratings as they passed through Jamaica High School in 2013-14 as they were covering classes for a day and were cited for not having enough engagement with the students they didn't even know. I witnessed almost all of the teachers from our so called "school being closed for poor performance" get rated ineffective or developing in 2014 and then we miraculously all became satisfactory or effective teachers the next year when we were in different schools. I can say for sure my confidence in my ability to teach was shaken when I was a rotating ATR and when I first became a provisional teacher.
I have seen ATRs come and go at Middle College High School, where I was a provisional teacher for over two years and finally was appointed permanently at no cost to the school in January. One time a friend and I worked to help an ATR develop an ideal lesson and then the ATR was trashed by the ATR supervisor who must have been having a bad day. The regular teacher taught a similar lesson days earlier and was praised by the administration in our successful school.
How can a supervisor with a conscience rate ATRs unsatisfactory when ATRs might not even know the subject they are teaching and they certainly don't know the kids who are sitting in front of them or the school that they are just passing through for a month? It's not too difficult for even a weak UFT to defend these ATRs.
Education journalism today is about getting quotes from so called experts who know nothing about the classroom and ignoring the views of teachers. NYC Educator says he knows Charterbeat talked to an ATR for an hour? No quote however. What's wrong with this picture? Oh right, teachers don't contribute big money to privatize education and bust unions. Money talks. I won't hold my breath waiting for a call or an email and then a long quote.
Oh and where is the UFT's own publication, the New York Teacher to defend the ATRs?