Saturday, May 30, 2015

MIDDLE COLLEGE HS SENDS ATR TO DA

In a genuine display of union solidarity with the Absent Teacher Reserves, teachers at Middle College High School yesterday elected me to be their Teacher Delegate for next year, in spite of the fact that there is a real possibility that I will not be returning to MCHS in the fall. I have been working as a Leave Replacement Teacher at MCHS since December.

As far as I know, this is the first time an ATR or Leave Replacement Teacher has been elected to the Delegate Assembly from a school. (Please correct me if this is wrong.) The teachers at MCHS put themselves in a bit of a handicap situation by electing me because if I am not returned to MCHS, I will have to be a long distance Delegate.  One of the big questions asked to me during the short campaign was how I could represent the school if I am not in the building and yes it will be more difficult.  Is the union now going to get me release time so I can go to MCHS and hear the views of the teachers on the union issues that impact them?

What really happened here is the UFT higher ups put election rules together that forced the ATRs to vote and run for office in the schools we happen to be in on May 4 because they had to allow us to vote somewhere or they would be violating federal labor law. They probably figured nobody would vote for strangers who were just passing through a school so it would look good on paper that they were not disenfranchising ATRs but in essence that is exactly what the UFT leadership was doing.

The union's election guide in my opinion is illegal so four of us have appealed these absurd chapter election procedures to the American Federation of Teachers which has not yet responded.  I don't think the election of one or two Delegates weakens that case. Certainly having one ATR in the DA when there are over 1,000 ATRs and Leave Replacement Teachers is still grossly unfair and it wasn't even ATRs who elected me so technically I represent MCHS and not ATRs.

Several people at MCHS asked me why the UFT doesn't just give ATR's a Chapter because having us run for office and vote in schools we are passing through is ridiculous.  The answer to this question is hard to figure out since it is now a decade since the infamous 2005 contract was passed that created the ATR mess by ending preferred placement for teachers when a school was closed or placement to a permanent job when UFT members were excessed from a school for other reasons.  This is not a temporary situation, as the UFT previously argued, since there is now a whole ATR section in the 2014 contract.  We proposed having a temporary Chapter that could dissolve if sanity returns to the school system and ATRs are finally placed permanently. The leadership turned that down along with other reasonable requests for ATR elected representation.

I want to personally say a huge THANK YOU to the people of MCHS for having enough confidence in me to send me to the DA to represent MCHS, even though I might not be at MCHS in the fall. MCHS is a  great school to work at.  Thanks to MCHS support, I don't have to sit on the 19th floor at the DA in the visitor's section next year watching the proceedings on closed circuit television.

The opposition to Unity Caucus has done some incredible work at the DA without me this year.  I hope my presence doesn't set us back so I will be studying my Roberts' Rules of Order over the summer. Or maybe it's better if I don't study those Rules of Order.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

James, it is a clear testament to your extraordinary strength as a leader and advocate for the members that you were elected to the delegate position for the coming school year. Hooray! Congratulations! Thank you for continuing the important work despite the road blocks.
We are lucky to have you among us!

Anonymous said...

I second that We are more than lucky to have you among us

NYC Educator said...

Congratulations James. I'm happy you're in the DA. Be assured you represent not only that school, but me, mine, and also tens of thousands of working NYC teachers whose voices aren't heard in that forum.

Anonymous said...

Bravo to you James. You are an inspiration to all who are teaching in this system of oppression to not have a voice. Your presence at the DA will be the voice that the rank and file are longing to hear. It is the greatest feeling in the world to have such trust and faith from your colleagues at MCHS. Kudos.

Anonymous said...

Bro, I want to give you a standing ovation at the next DA. You are a hero and an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Middle College.

Harris L said...

Your colleagues clearly saw you as their most qualified advocate despite the absurd rules and restrictions put on you and Reserve teachers...testimony to your personal effectiveness and to your colleagues willingness to take a risk to assert their independence.

I'm glad you'll be back at the DA. Might be enough to get me to come sit in the visitor's gallery again after I'd sworn I'd never attend another DA again.

Anonymous said...

I had to read the headline 100x because I could not believe ! It is so great - congrats to you and to the school - can't wait to see what the union will do about this !!! Nice to read this good news!

BJ said...

While it's nice to tell us to contact a school rep, district rep, or borough office. I find them with no competence most of the time, and/or unwilling to help the rest of the time.

1-I witnessed a principal threaten to fire an untenured teacher because the lesson plan wasn't up to what the principal desired. I wont quote the contract, but the teacher can have any lesson plan he/she wants. The UFT rep was made fully aware of the situation and will do nothing about it. The school rep job has become a job that somebody takes for a parking space, a period off, or to move up a ladder. The person often has no desire to cause any friction, and allows teachers to be run over by administration. You really need to find a way that shows that people who are paid by money or time, are actually doing the job they are paid to do.

2-I had a pension consultation, you know, where I speak to an expert from the UFT. I thought I knew what I was talking about, but was told very different things by the rep. Of course, after researching the info, I found out that I was given incorrect info by the expert. These are critical mistakes, and one is planning the rest of their life based on what is said at these meetings...

3-When I visit the borough office, I usually get someone who either has to ask someone else, doesn't know the answer, or answers me incorrectly. These people are being paid a second salary to do this. Seems like it's free money to do a job incorrectly. Even if I bring something in, stated in writing, I get the dumb look and the I don't know answer.

4. I witness an ATR, here for the last month, still without a bathroom key, now being told to pay for it herself. In addition, after told to cover 6 classes, without coverage pay, answer was that only applies to teachers, you aren't a teacher, you are an ATR.

5. What is the punishment if a school doesn't enforce the discipline code at all, and nothing is reported? Seems unfair teachers have to get tortured by unruly students all year, then principals get bonuses because the school has no reported incidents.

BJ said...

To be honest, I fear being targeted, this stuff is going on all over the city, never changes, never stops. I hear all the time, people complain, they get targeted, get rated poorly, 3020 charges, etc. I don't think all of you know how bad it is to work in a "difficult" school. All day, nothing but curses, threats, I could go into detail about what is said by these students, but I will try to remain professional. You have students, hundreds or thousands in a building, borderline illiterate, who have criminal records miles long, who expect everything on a silver platter or else. No responsibility, no effort, come and go as they please, no notebook, no pencil, but have hundreds of dollars of clothing on their body, with $600 cell phones, BEING USED ALL DAY IN THE BUILDING, I think that's a violation of the discipline code, right? And then pass me or else. And then "credit recovery" or let them write an extra credit paper, which is plagiarized, or let them take the class online. Huh? For no showing all year? A grade of 65 with 70+ absences next to their name? Who checks on this? This is the epitome of fraud. I can go on and on for hours, but why bother?

Anonymous said...

As an ATR and roving delegate, you should begin campaigning for the position of next UFT president and soon!

Anonymous said...

Agree with BJ, nobody knows what's really going on in most schools. We are in a sad state of affairs. Everybody thinks these students are actually going to schools to get an education? Sadly mistaken. I witness, every day, students openly standing in the hall having cell phone conversations, and that's just the start, cutting class all day. going to the gym, 4 periods per day, etc. Not an ounce of work done by students in these schools. When will the UFT intervene? When will the discipline code be respected? Of course we know principals hide these violations, looks like these schools are utopias on paper. Not to mention how dangerous the neighborhoods these schools are in. Or how about in the school when everything is blood or crip or you have to hear about shootings and stabbings, when you, as a teacher, can be a victim at any time. 20 year olds reading on a 3rd grade level, and cutting class all day, and then being given passing grades because "We cant fail everybody." How sad.

Anonymous said...

Yup, people in Staten Island think they know what it's like in Brooklyn, and people in Brooklyn Tech think they know what it's like in Jefferson. Would be quite a shock if they had to work in these cesspools. I wish our brave UFT reps and UFT safety would show up unannounced one day and see what's really going on. And bring the Mayor too.

Anonymous said...

Congrats!!!
Looking forward to seeing you and hearing you at the DA’s after your absence.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to you! Middle College is lucky to have you represent them! You will be both the ATR eyes and ears and advocate for your school!
Mulgrew and Co. will not silence you.
Good luck

Anonymous said...

Does anybody actually look at report cards and see students with 20-30 absences per marking period, 50 plus absences per term passing classes? I see it all the time, Its a joke, and teachers still do it. Why isnt the chancellor saying this is unacceptable? What happened to Walcott saying a student needed to be there 2/3 of the time just to be eligible for credit recovery? Im tired of a principal say, well the student hasnt been here all year, but she's a senior, lets find a way to pass her. And they wonder why unemployment is so high for people without college degrees, and they wonder why our students cant find decent jobs and resort to crime. Where is the accountability? WHere is the media?

Anonymous said...

Congrats, James! You will act as you have in the past as a "truth teller" and as a "reality checker" in that world of lies called "the monthly D.A."!!!

ed notes online said...

Ed Notes commentary on James' election: Why are there atrs at all?
http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2015/05/atr-james-eterno-elected-delegate-from.html

Anonymous said...

Congrats James on being recognized for your talent first of all as a teacher and your election. ATRs should be represented and shame on the new contract that took away your due process rights.

I know you have to go through channels, etc., but when are ATRs going to get real legal representation and take this action to court?

James Eterno said...

Thanks for the kind words everyone.

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