It has been a week since I spoke to the Panel for Educational Policy and Chancellor Carmen Farina. Not surprisingly, I have not heard back from anyone at the DOE concerning my request for the Chancellor, or someone from her office, to meet with representatives from the Absent Teacher Reserve Alliance (ATRA) to discuss our concerns. I am trying to remain optimistic that something substantial is different under the present administration as compared to the last one. Maybe the response will come soon.
If the Chancellor is concerned about offending the UFT by meeting with us, I would like to point out that Article 1 of the UFT contract gives us a right to meet with administration. Here is the language:
"Nothing contained herein shall be construed to prevent any Board official from meeting with any employee organization representing employees in the bargaining unit for the purpose of hearing the views and proposals of its members, except that, as to matters presented by such organizations which are proper subjects of collective bargaining, the Union shall be informed of the meeting and, as to those matters, any changes or modifications shall be made only through negotiations with the Union."
We understand no group can speak for the UFT and the Union would have to negotiate changes to the ATR agreement. However, the question I have is what will it take to have the DOE meet with representatives of ATRs who have been elected exclusively by ATRs, Absent Counselor Reserves and Leave Replacement Teachers? We have real matters of importance that need to be addressed.
If we were a corporate reform front group, then someone at the Department of Education would probably have already found the time to set up a meeting with us. On the other hand, a large group of displaced teachers and counselors might have to make some more noise to be heard.