On the surface, Chancellor Joel Klein's email to principals calling for a hiring freeze on new teachers from outside the system looks like a fairly sane and logical response to our current budget plight. In most schools, Principals will not be allowed to hire teachers from outside the system until the current Absent Teacher Reserves (regular teachers who are substitutes instead of teaching their own program) find positions. However, when we dig beneath the surface, we find there is much to be unhappy with including threats of layoffs of non-teaching UFT members and no hiring freeze for assistant principals.
The Chancellor's email contains the following statement that most of us would concur with: "Most significantly, effective immediately, you may only hire existing DOE staff, as opposed to people from outside the system." Great! This could not have happened soon enough. Let's see if it gets implemented. Go on the open market now and see if you can transfer. ATR's might actually find positions for real now.
The Chancellor goes on to say that teacher layoffs are not in the cards. "Teachers: There will be no forced placements or layoffs of teachers. You may only hire existing DOE teachers, as opposed to people from outside the system." It should be noted that new schools are partially exempt from this outside hiring freeze and may hire half of their staff from outside the system and shortage area licenses might also be exempt.
Unfortunately, when we delve further into the Chancellor's statement, it contains other details that are quite scary. He states: "Guidance Counselors, Social Workers: At this time, there will be no forced placements or layoffs of these employees. They will be treated the same as teachers, so you can only hire individuals who are already working in the same titles in our system." "At this time" is lawyer talk meaning right now layoffs won't happen but look out in the near future. By putting out the possibility of future layoffs and bumping, it once again proves that the UFT sold us a false promise when they pushed the 2005 Contracts by saying that they contained no layoff agreements. There aren't any no layoff agreements in our current Contracts. The email gets worse with other titles.
Klein further writes, "School Secretaries, Paraprofessionals, School Aides, Family Workers: We will work to place excesses in vacancies and evaluate the situation to determine if layoffs are necessary." Our secretaries and paras along with school aides have been threatened with layoffs by the Chancellor. As paras learned in 2003, when the ironclad no layoff clause in their Contract expired, layoffs can really occur.
The layoff threat for our people is followed with a job security guarantee and open hiring for assistant principals. The hiring freeze does not extend to assistant principals. In fact, administrators are so important that they can no longer be placed in excess! I'm not kidding; no new Absent Assistant Principal Reserves.
Here are Chancellor Klein's actual words: "Assistant Principals: You may not excess APs. To avoid any increases in the excess pool overall, given the limited number of assistant principal vacancies that we can expect, assistant principals should not be excessed. Vacant positions may be eliminated, and you can fill vacancies under existing procedures with any qualified candidate."
It's what I've maintained for many of the years that I have been in the system: The Board of Ed, Department of Ed or whatever they want to call it is a system run by administrators for administrators. Children first? You must be joking.