Saturday, October 18, 2014

ADIOS AVIATION HS; ATR ROTATION BEGINS

(This post is dedicated to the students and staff of Aviation HS.)

I began my Absent Teacher Reserve journey in September after working for twenty-eight years at Jamaica High School, a school that phased out in June.  I was somewhat apprehensive as a new ATR as so many people who had been previously excessed from Jamaica cautioned me how the life of an ATR is so different from that of a regular classroom teacher.

For the first seven weeks of the school year, I was assigned to Aviation HS. I had a positive experience at this excellent school working with wonderful kids and caring adults but thanks to the Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers, I am now forced to move on to a different school.

When I arrived at Aviation on September 2, I was somewhat surprised to discover a few people knew me through my UFT work so I felt somewhat at ease.  During the first few days, the staff - including the Chapter Leader, teachers, support staff and the administration - was very welcoming and then the students were kind too when classes began.

I told the administration that I ran the College Office at Jamaica so they immediately gave me a professional assignment to assist in that office. I felt useful being able to develop trusting relationships with students and adults. Helping students with SAT applications, the Common Application, the SUNY, CUNY online process, Aviation's College Night and more was very fulfilling. I was told pupils started asking for me when I was out of the office because I had classes to cover or was sent by the DOE on one of those useless mandated interviews in other schools.

Covering classes at Aviation was not bad either. The kids usually behaved appropriately and would give me a chance to actually teach them something. The Principal noted how he saw me working diligently in his travels around the building. Unfortunately, I was also informed how the school budget is tight so they wouldn't be able to keep me there.

I have heard from several other ATRs in various schools since yesterday that they were given a similar message about how school administrators liked their work but they currently don't have a position. It does not matter how well an ATR is doing in a school, we are going to be rotated to different schools starting on Monday.

In addition, thanks to the always efficient operation of the Department of Education (sarcasm alert), ATRs received emails saying our next assignment was only for the following week while on the Excess Staff Selection System it says we will be at our next school for three weeks! Go figure. You can forward my mail to Middle College HS as that is where I am headed on Monday.

The ATR rotation system - whether for a week, three weeks or a month- is insane. How are we supposed to develop relationships with students and staff in such a short period of time? Why establish bonds when we know we will be gone in a week or a month?

The most ridiculously absurd part of this entire debacle is when people talk about school budgets as opposed to the overall DOE budget. Money to pay for a teacher is not going to magically appear on a school's budget because a school likes an ATR. Aviation cannot afford to keep me on their school budget so they have to tell me to move on.  However, the taxpayers of New York City will still be paying my salary whether I am at Aviation, Middle College or some other school.

Questions for the DOE and Chancellor Farina:

1-Why can't a school keep an ATR if that person is a good fit for a particular school?

2- Is your goal to find us schools or just to frustrate us?

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Quite cogent. However, lest we forget that we are dealing with the DOE which doesn't do rational. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Budgets are tight in every school...and as long as they are tight...ATR's will rotate...unless a nepotism card is played.

David Hedges said...

Great narrative. Almost every ATR is frustrated by the mindless decisions made by HR-Connect and the ATR Assignment Bureau. It is worth nothing that principals are even more exasperated by them The UFT and the CSA have a common enemy. The ATRAssignment wont allow principals to request or retain ATRs, unless they pay for them. Simultaneously, the budget is set by the DOE to prevent principals from having access to the funds they need to keep an ATR. The ATR pool is disproportionately stocked with the more experienced teachers who have demonstrated their commitment to education, even during the most difficult of times. Principals know that the more experienced the teacher, the greater the chances for the school's success. There is a disconnect, clearly, between the decision makers in HR-Connect (who are never held accountable) and the culture of educators in the actual school setting. I think it's time the UFT and the CSA set the agenda and ended the reign of the bullies at the DOE.

Anonymous said...

James as usual you said what many of us was thinking. I was fortunate to be given assignment as a co-teacher in my subject area. The students were sad to see me leave. One even asked if I "did not like the class anymore" I responded it was not them or anyone in the school's fault but Carmen Farinas.

The DOE decided I should be sent to another location for a week were I most likely be used as a free substitute wondering from room to room.

So much for changing the tone!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you James.I also had a chance to work in that school for a week and felt very rewarded.I am a colleague of yours from Jamaica hs.Next week I'm told to report to a Junior hs eventhough I have taught in the hs level for 22 years.Someone said they can do that if your license is 7-12.???????? Please advise......

James Eterno said...

District is QHS. License is high school. Going to a middle school does not seem proper. Please contact me at the ice email or privately.

Anonymous said...

The purpose of the ATR rotation is neither to form bonds with students nor to land ATRs positions. The goal I s to exhaust and humiliate veteran teachers.

Anonymous said...

They do that very well.

Anonymous said...

Forget about the DOE's agenda...show up to the schools you are assigned to....do as you are told...and collect your check...keep it simple...you are not going to change the DOE or their policies...you are making top salary, James...be concerned with that and that only because at the end of the day taking care of you and yours is really all that matters...complaining about the situation is not doing you any good. And the DOE will never change the ATR policy based on blogs posts and responses from those in the pool...they don't care...so why waste your time...my 2 cents.

James Eterno said...

I hope I never get as cynical as the comment above seems to be and I am often accused of too much cynicism.

Anonymous said...

James, I was given similar "words of wisdom" as you were given by Anon 1:49. They forgot to include the one where you are told to be happy you have a job. I was an ATR from 2009 to 2010. Yes I had a job but I was a career teacher and loved it. I was hired under that temporary ATR agreement and retired last year because the system was deteriorating and I reached the 55/25. The ATR period was demoralizing and I thought it couldn't get worse. Seeing what you are all going through now, shows I was wrong. James, take solace in the fact that you have a positive affect on the students no matter where you are. Then, let's get rid of Unity. Best to you.

Anonymous said...

Good luck. Rember to keep track of everything you do, just to give your self esteem a boost. It also helps to develop your "brand", make an identity for yourself. think of yourself as an temp worker and do the best with what you got. I wish the city auditors will see the foolishness of this budget syst but after three or four years of this already it doesn't seem they care.

Shawn Sullivan said...

I have heard From colleagues that the weekly rotation was the unions idea because teachers were complaining that they were being assigned to do non teaching tasks when no one was absent. I also was at a great school, and now I don't know what to expect. I'm retiring in June, so I just have to hang on till then. I'm really disgusted with my union at this point. ATR stands for "abandoned teacher rotation"'

Anonymous said...

That was the longest 7 weeks of my life. Teachers absent every day, out of control students, no staff member over 25, and a leadership academy principal. No class had under 34 in a class and the rooms were cut in half to create more classrooms. Students can do and say whatever they want- no detention, suspensions, or arrests. I can only imagine what that school will be like in the spring. One teacher already quit. Weekly rotation is the best way to go, when you're in a school like that.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 1:49 is not being cynical, he's being truthful. I agree 100% with his statements and by January, you will also.

Anonymous said...

I am an ESL teacher placed in a library. The plan is to install a lot more computers in the library. It is unclear as to whether they are going to gut the library. A friend joked that I am not to worry. They will make me a computer teacher. What ever happened to Highly Qualified?

Anonymous said...

What school? Please warn us.

Anonymous said...

The real insanity to the ATR DOE system is that I love it when a school will say we love to keep you, the students and staff here love you but WE DON'T HAVE MONEY IN THE BUDGET" The problem here is that EVERYONE in the DOE gets paid from the same source!!! The school budget thing was created by bloomberg and Klein to give the illusion that there is NO MONEY IN THE BUDGET but, but, EVERYONE GETS PAID in the system from NYC!!!! So, the school with no science teacher or no guidance counselor who says they do not have the money in the budget is really just a victum of the shell game and bloomberg is still laughing....so the real losers here are the students as the students go on without guidance counselors or social workers, classrooms are jammed because of short staff - parents are out of the loop because there is no parent coordinator but the DOE claims there slogan of "Students First"

David Hedges said...

According to the CSA (the principals' union), any principal can request that a specific ATR be assigned to the school, at no cost to the school's budget. The request must be made through the Superintendent's office, not through the ATRAssignment office.

The Deputy Chancellor approved of this change and any denial, by the ATRAssignment office will be handled directly by the Deputy Chancellor.

Principals may not be aware that this agreement was reach. Contact the principal and have them call the CSA for verification.

The CSA fought hard for this. ATRs and the CSA have a common enemy.

Anonymous said...

And there is always the possibility of filing an appeal with the Commissioner of Education:

www.counsel.nysed.gov/appeals

www.counsel.nysed.gov/Decisions/home.html

http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/appeals/faqs

Anonymous said...

Yes James- This was all designed to BREAK the ATR and get them to either retire or quit. It makes no sense to see it any other way. And what makes it all the worse is that it was endorsed by the great and brilliant mind of Michael Mulgrew.

Anonymous said...

James, your experience at Aviation sounds like a positive one. There are MANY ATR's who could not wait until the end of the 7 weeks. If you are in some schools, facing inept administrations every day and students who have no accountability and no reason to behave properly, you can't wait until the week is up and maybe experience something as nice as Aviation. Until assignments can be given out fairly -- seems rotation is the best way. I sure hope I move after this week .......

Anonymous said...

James,
I hope you are making teachers aware of ICE. After NYCEd's piece on MORE, which I was aware was going on a long time, this might be a great time to get people to know more about ICE and rebrand the name. Who better than you!!

James Eterno said...

ICE is still there. We have been meeting regularly. Join us.

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