Saturday, September 04, 2010


There is controversy between's Anna Phillips, whom I respect, and the Wall Street Journal over how many excessed teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve pool have actually pounded the pavement to look for jobs. The two news organizations also disagree on whether Joel Klein is offering to keep ATR's forever. Our take is that both the Journal and Gotham need to read the UFT contract.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page is not totally wrong (OK right there that might be unusual). Klein wants principals to be able to hire their staff and then be held accountable for the school's results just as the Journal says. If a teacher is forced out of a school because a school closed or a program shrank, the Journal is saying that Klein wants to offer job protection for that teacher. That is what has happened since 2005 and will keep going forever unless there is a change in the contract that the UFT will never agree to so the Journal is basically correct.

Anna Phillips from Gothamschools says Klein wants to get rid of the ATR's but is being forced to keep them because of the UFT contract. Anna is kind of right too but she doesn't mention that Klein is the one who agreed to this system in 2005 so he is stuck with it.

Because we have the Taylor Law, the UFT contract that expired in October of 2009 stays in effect until there is a new one. The UFT is a very weak union for sure. I know first hand because of the way the UFT sold out Jamaica High School after winning the law suit to keep us open, but subsequently they allowed two new schools to illegally take over our space so we are de facto phasing out anyway. Yes, it is a weak union but they are not suicidal.

Since the Department of Education closes schools in droves these days, it would mean that the UFT would basically be killing off its veteran membership if they agreed to allow ATR's to be terminated if they can't find a job after a year as Klein wants. As many have pointed out, there is a financial disincentive for principals to hire veteran teachers so thousands would be let go as has happened in other cities.

UFT will not set this precedent by giving up seniority rights for ATR's as the entire municipal labor movement would soon be asked to do the same because of pattern bargaining. Imagine the city closing sanitation garages to get rid of veteran sanitation workers. I don't forsee the UFT selling out the entire municipal labor movement so basically the Journal is right as the UFT can go forever without a new contract which means Klein is essentially offering ATR's jobs indefinitely. Both the Journal and Gotham are vindicated; successful mediation by the ICE blog.

On the issue of why there are ATR's, all sides miss this one by a wide margin.

Klein is making a big deal out of the actual number of ATR's who have looked for jobs. Anna Phillips has the facts clearly on her side over the Wall Street Journal concerning the percentage of ATR's who have applied for jobs, but the whole argument doesn't address the main issue at all. ATR's contractually have no obligation to look for any jobs. If they wait to be placed in a regular or ATR position, they are doing absolutely nothing wrong.

The ATR crisis is completely made up by Joel Klein and his friends at the UFT. If they were to follow the UFT contract, then it would be up to the Board of Education (official title of DOE) to place teachers.

Let's go to the actual contract where Article 17B Rule 4 states: "Teachers in excess in a school unit or office under the juristiction of a community district must be placed in vacancies within the district to the fullest degree possible. For school units, districts, or other organizational units under the juristiction of the central board, teachers in excess must be placed in appropriate vacancies within the district or central office." That is pretty clear language that puts the responsibility to place excessed teachers on the Board of Education.

In the horrible 2005 contract, the Board and the UFT added a Rule 11 to Article 17B that says: "Unless a principal denies the placement, an excessed teacher will be placed by the Board into a vacancy within his/her district/superintendency. The Board will place the excessed teacher who is not so placed in an ATR position in the school from which he/she is excessed, or in another school in the same district or superintendency."

These are the only changes from Rule 4 that were added by the new Rule 11:

First, to the fullest degree possible is out so excessed people must stay in their district/superintendency.

Second, now principals can deny placements and then the teacher becomes an ATR who has to stay in his/her district.

Where in the contract does it say that an excessed teacher has to call principals, go door to door, check on line for vacancies, apply and give demonstration lessons as if they are a new hire? It doesn't; the responsibility to place teachers belongs to the Board of Education, not the teacher. Case closed. It says it in the contract.

The fact that the Board no longer places excessed employees but instead tells people in excess to go to job fairs or pound the pavement as if these are laid off workers or new people looking for a job is a violation of the contract. The Board is supposed to place excessed employees. The fact that the UFT allows this to go on and gives classes to veteran teachers in polishing up their resumes shows how the UFT is basically in sync with the Board of Ed.

This is how it should work according to the contract. A teacher is placed in excess and is sent to a new school inside the district. The principal can accept that teacher or deny placement. If the teacher is accepted, then he/she is part of that new school. If the principal says no, then the person can become an ATR or be sent to another school in the district.

Teachers who want to transfer should apply for openings as it gives them more options which we are not against. However if someone is excessed and chooses to wait to be placed, it is a contractual right to be placed by the employer just as the city places firefighters when firehouses close or police officers when they clear out precints. How many jobs an excessed teacher has applied for is completely irrelevant. Joel Klein has authority to place all of the excessed teachers and he chooses to scapegoat them instead of finding them teaching positions. He has no right to force them to look for positions.


Anonymous said...

What is said in the contract & what is actually is so at odds that to have a contract, from a certain point of view, is irrelevant. This is a sad day in the BIG APPLE, in NYS & in America. It does not matter what the rules are...KLEIN & his buddies do not care...they just keep on keeping on & no one busts him. WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE!?

James Eterno said...

Ask UFT.

Anonymous said...

James you are correct and I have made this point repeatedly. Furthermore, the principals have a financial incentive as ATR's offer two advantages budgetarily. If hired, principals pay only starting teacher salary, central DOE pays the difference for up to eight years. Also, principals receive one-half a starting teachers salary as a discretionary allotment. You would think that with all the budget cuts more principals would go for such an incentive. Yes the contract clearly states the fact that the DOE is responsible for the placement. Klein is the one to be held responsible. I posted this fact at Gotham schools on Friday while responding to a principal in the Bronx.
Rick Mangone

Under Assault said...

A couple of things. First, in the post where you say ATRs are "doing absolutely nothing wrong" if "they sit at home and wait to be placed," it sounds to the outside world that they're not working. These ATRs in fact only sit home and wait to be placed on weekends, evenings, and vacations. At all other times, they are doing full-time educator jobs in schools waiting to be placed — sometimes in FULL PROGRAMS without being FULLY INSTATED into jobs. Therein lies another scandal that Gotham doesn't see fit to report.

As for Rick's comment (no.3 above) - people must stop thinking that the Side Agreement for ATRs applies to all of them when it doesn't. It's only for the ATRs on Central budget (who get there most often when a school closes or is restructured). If you're excessed because your program is cut, you remain on your school's budget serving as an ATR in your school (unless the DoE tells you otherwise), and there is absolutely no financial incentive for any principal — yours or anyone else's — to give you a real position. At least that's the way it was written up a couple of years ago, and I have not heard anything different since.

Anonymous said...

Under Assault:
I did not make the point of centrally funded vs other excessed staff, you are correct. The incentive only applies to centrally funded ATR's. Still quite an incentive yet many principals resist. As for the ATR's and any future rallies, there should be a union initiated grievance or class action lawsuit regarding this blatant violation of the contract and waste of tax payer dollars by Klein and his administration.

ed notes online said...

Time For Another ATR Rally?

With the 2nd anniversary of the ATR rally coming up in November and the UFT/Tweed ATR agreement due to expire, and the escalating Klein attacks, some ATRs have been in touch and are talking about another rally. Or at least a blog to keep people informed.

I was at a meeting the other day where a chapter leader said he heard that very day that the number of excessed teachers in his school had jumped from 2 to 12. That was just a few hours after I heard from a reporter who said the DOE was claiming the ATR situation was not increasing or did not think it was a big problem. I told the reporter to do the math - between the 19 schools closed that the UFT "won" a suit and then turned around and screwed some of the schools by agreeing to allow other schools to open in the buildings and draw away potential freshmen - and the budget cuts there would be a jump in the numbers as people got back to school. Unless lots of people retired. Or died. Or were killed by a hit squad hired by the DOE in an attempt to create jobs and save money.

Full report at:

Under Assault said...

Three years ago, before I started my blog, Ednotes posted an analysis I had written on the ATR situation. See "Excessing" : It's very much like the analysis you've just posted here, pre-dating the Side Agreement of course.

Importantly: in that post I also wrote how obscene it was to send all the ATRs a 23-page Placement Guide that contained info on how to write a resume and do a job interview — as if professionals needed the DoE's (unsolicited) help to further our careers.

The DoE has treated us like crap from the getgo, and the UFT has let them. I place the blame almost entirely on the Weingarten cum Mulgrew stance (= complacency) and agree a class action lawsuit is needed. Trouble is they've let it go so long, it would be thrown out of court for exceeding the time limit.

The press is certainly not doing its job. Badgering them like you're doing with this analysis shows their incompetent reporting (bias?) on this entire issue.

Under Assault said...

PS: My position has again been shut down in my school, but with 20 years' appointed service, I can't actually be excessed. I hear I'll be doing the same kind of day-to-day subbing again that I did 3 years ago as an ATR. The principal saves money by cutting my subject altogether and having me do coverages. That's a whole different kind of disregard for experience and service that both the DoE and the UFT are tolerating.

We know Klein wants the big salaries out and doesn't care. The UFT's position is, as usual: "You're lucky you have a job."

Anonymous said...

Here is a thought! The papers report 1700 teacher reserves. Maybe some contribute to UFT Cope some may not. But, if they all organized and instead of paying $5 to the NOPE FUND they pooled that amount for a one year sum $60 then that times 1700 comes to more than $100,000. That could buy a lot of legal help and the media coverage would be great to put pressure on both sides of the education fiasco DOE/UFT. Possible???

Run for the Border said...

Well analyzed. The DOE will shortly utilize the teacher rating system to discipline ATRs. Can you imagine using the value added method to an ATR?

Anonymous said...

The UFT and the DOE do not care about the contract. The contract is what anonymous 1:21 AM stated " have a contract, from a certain point of view, is irrelevant." The UFT and the DOE do not care about placing teachers. Especially if you are an ATR-- ATRs ARE THE BOUNCING BALL.
This year will be my FIFTH year as an ATR. It is outrageous! I went to all the job fairs and to all the schools in my area to no avail. I've been an ATR in three different schools that had openings for the three licences I have ( Special Education, ESL, and Spanish) but the jobs were given to the TFA, TFellows and administration connections. For the DOE -- it doesn't matter the good job I perform. It is time to organize the next rally!

Anonymous said...

It is time to organize a rally without Unity's help. We did this when we opposed "group work" with forced arrangement of desks, etc. We have to do it again! We must disregard our leadership and take the matter in our own hands!
We have more talent outside Unity. Let's put it to use.

Anonymous said...

first of all, i didn't get excessed until June 28 which was after the job fairs. Secondly, i am being sent as an ATR out of my district. This is a hardship for me as I am physically disabled. I asked very nicely to be kept in my school so that I can get a ride to and from work.
I am not looking to do nothing. I want to teach a full schedule.
By the way, I called Human Resources and was told that I was removed from my district and cannot go to ANY school in my district unless I am no longer excessed.
Do I have any recourse here? Can I fight this?

JW said...

Under Rule 5 of the Excessing article, they should place you close by. Rule 6 clearly says your wishes should be taken into consideration if they're having trouble doing that (and of course you'll never know for sure, since the system is totally non-transparent) . If they haven't asked you for your preferences, they are in violation and you should contact the (ineffectual) UFT.

Never go to the UFT without knowing your contract. It's the only way to arm yourself against their deepest desire not to be of any help.
"Rule 5. To minimize movement of personnel, excessed teachers shall be placed within the district/ superintendency in appropriate openings or vacancies."
"Rule 6. The central board has the responsibility for placing teachers who are excessed from a school or office and cannot be accommodated by their own district/ superintendency. Where possible, the wishes of the teacher will be taken into account in his/her placement by the central board. "

Anonymous said...

Well said Under assault. ATRs should be placed in their district according to the contract.
If you are dissable-- you have a priority. Under the Dissability Act they have to accomodate you. Check that online.

Anonymous said...

You make the case for the excessing/firing/sending to the rubber room of experienced teachers. Many of us worked under a contract, although, far from perfect, offered some protections and in some schools, with good chapter leaders, there was some adherence. We had a no lay off contract and, before the invention of the ATR and mass exodus to rubber rooms, it meant something. Those with the knowledge and experience that you and senior teachers have stand in the DOE's way. Take away that institutional memory, and they can run all over the newer teachers. It is a sad day.

L Prisco

Anonymous said...

Someone asked "WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE!?"

Someone responded "Ask the UFT."

Does anyone else see the error of this kind of thinking?

Someone proposed "But, if [the ATRs] all organized and instead of paying $5 to the NOPE FUND they pooled that amount for a one year sum $60 then that times 1700 comes to more than $100,000. That could buy a lot of legal help and the media coverage would be great to put pressure on both sides of the education fiasco DOE/UFT."

Several people proposed (essentially) "It is time to organize a rally without Unity's help. We did this when we opposed "group work" with forced arrangement of desks, etc. We have to do it again! We must disregard our leadership and take the matter in our own hands!
We have more talent outside Unity. Let's put it to use."

Does anyone else see the value of this kind of thinking?

This has been going on since Bloomberg became mayor.

Wake up sheeple!!


I'm glad I'm out!

Anonymous said...

Good luck organizing the sheep.

Theodore said...

It is my understanding that Mulgrew constented to the mass transfer of the ATRs. Is there any way this can be verified?

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew said at the exec board meeting there are only 600 ATR's left to be placed. How can this be so, if in Staten Island alone I was told by the rep there that they went up from 12 last year to 200!. Multiply that by 5 boroughs and there are at least 1000, but most likely more because Staten Island has the least number of schools. Just think how many ATR's there are in Brooklyn alone. Brooklyn has a lot of schools. If similar programs were cut in all the boroughs, there are probably more like 2000 ATR's. Can anyone give the most acurate figure of how many ATR's are out there this year? This does not help us subs either. No one cares about us.

Anonymous said...

Remember that when people in the Rubber Rooms settle, they become ATRs. The DOE is under pressure to accelerate the process of resolving cases (because of the April 15, 2010 deal to close the Rubber Rooms as we knew them in recent years), and the only way they can do that is to settle.
Then there are principals that would rather use ATRs who are assigned to them by the Human Resources people than hire their own. It is a budget issue. The entire salary of ATRs is paid by Central DOE, but if an ATR is hired by the principal, all or some of the salary is covered by the school's budget.