Sunday, December 14, 2008



There is a lot of confusion about just how teachers obtain job protection rights. In order to understand the strange world of teacher qualification it is first necessary to understand a few terms.


Certification: Issued by the State Education Department after a teacher candidate shows minimum qualifications to teach. These include written tests (ATS-W) performance tests (ATS-P) and adequate college credits. Certification varies depending upon academic area and grade level. Some certifications are for wide ranges of grades (K-12) or for smaller ranges of grades (7-12). Certification has no direct relationship with probation or tenure except that failure to obtain the requisite certification will result in the loss of tenure or license.


License: A uniquely New York City requirement that often times does not mesh neatly with certification. Licensing may be for different subjects and often times are for different grades that certification. Licensing used to have qualifying criteria (oral exam) but now the only requirement is the payment of a fee.


Probation: That period prior to tenure (usually 3 years) where the Board can dismiss you without a due process hearing. Teachers on probation have limited rights, however, that protects them against dismissal for arbitrary or discriminatory reasons. Additionally terminated probations are entitled to Board of Education hearings although the "hearing" is done by a representative of the Board and teachers rarely win. Note: probation terminations must be challenged in Court within 4 months of the notice. This is usually well before the termination of probation hearing is held. If you wait until after the termination of probation hearing you will probably be only able to challenge the results of the hearing in Court. The Court will be unable to reinstate you to your teaching position.


Tenure: Obtained after 3 years (or less with Jarema credit) of appointment, under a license. Tenure entitles a teacher to be given a due process hearing before any serious disciplinary action can be taken. Under our contract we are entitled to the hearing before a single arbitrator selected by the DOE and the UFT to hear these cases. Cases can only be appealed under very narrow circumstances.


Appointment: Certified teachers, when granted a license, and assigned to a particular job (actually from a list in which a random list number is generated…yes this number may be important in excessing or layoff to determine seniority if two teachers were hired the same day). Appointment starts the tenure clock running unless Jarema credit (credit for non-appointed teacher time) is given. After three years of appointment the teacher becomes eligible for tenure. Any change in license, including junior high to senior high licensing) will start the clock over.


Jarema Credit. This is a way that appointed teachers who worked satisfactorily as regular substitutes in the same license and at the same school level can reduce the normal three-year probationary period by up to two years. To obtain one term of credit, you must have worked as a sub for a minimum of 80 days within a period of 90 consecutive school days in the same school. For a credit of one year, you must have worked at least 160 days in a one-year period.


Traveling Tenure: Each time you change your license and are reappointed, you must serve a new three-year probationary period. But if you received tenure in one license area and elect to take an appointment in a new license area, or if you were tenured in another school district in New York State, you can apply to have your probationary period reduced to two years.


Some important points: Excessing ( or losing your appointment due to school closing, downsizing, or other factor will not cause resetting of tenure for probationers or tenured teachers unless the teacher is appointed in a different license. Similarly voluntary changes of appointments to different licenses will result in a new period of probation.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for doing this Jeff. It's very informative.

Anonymous said...

I'm a first year teacher and I was told that I should check out this site by my chapter leader. Truth be told, I find your post insulting to my intelligence. This is common knowledge. When I started reading this, I thought that it was going to be a sarcastic read.

Anonymous said...

Your a frist year idoit! You have no intellignece. You will fit well with Randy and unity! And since your a unity member you need to get some adive from unity on how to kiss-up to your pricipal and how to lie to your fellow teacher. You will make a great unity chapter leader one day. You may even move up to District Rep. If you ass-kiss enough and sell out your fellow teachers like Randy does. You should be taking this man for taking time out of his life to try and inform new teacher. He does not get paid to do this. Unlike Randy and her unity friends who get paid a double pension for doing nothing expect lying and selling out teachers. If what Jeff wrote is not for you just shut up and call Randy for any information you need. There is not reason for you to insult anyone that is trying to infrom teachers. Unless your a unity hack!

Anonymous said...

The second comment is clearly not from a first year teacher but from a Unity person.

Anonymous said...

Question, I am a long time reader of EdNotes (which links here). Am I missing something? How do you guys know that the second poster here isn't a first year teacher and is really a Unity person? Also, what is a Unity person?

Anonymous said...

The poster disagrees with what was written here. He must be in Unity (sarcasm).

Norm said...

This post was inspired by a question from a 5th year teacher who was given tenure after 3 years of teaching middle school but then moved to a high school under what he thought was the same license and then told he is on probation again. I forewarded the question to Jeff and he cleared up the issue. When the teacher went to the UFT they agreed with Jeff.

The issue here is why the UFT hasn't made these things clear so teachers could make proper decisions. Unless they out this up on the web site in the last week or so, this is the only place to get this info.

Why? because these aren't important enough issues for Unity to address until a teacher gets screwed.

As for this Unity crap and the comment #2 it is irrelevant. I'll assume it was an honest comment but will point out that I must also be an idiot after 40 years in the union because I didn't understand the issue till Jeff explained it. Your knowledge as a first year teacher is impressive. And your chapter leader recommended this site? Bet he/she is not Unity.

I do bet as a first year teacher you need a primer on Unity.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Norm on vacation?

Anonymous said...

It should be noted that you defined tenure as it applies in NYC, not in the rest of NY State. In the rest of the state teachers can choose between a three member panel and a single arbitrator; however, the UFT has given away this right for NYC teachers. This is an important change because the NYC arbitrators violate the rules in a wholesale manner. The advice given in the earlier comment was the best one - PUCKER UP AND KISS THOSE CHEEKS NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!