Saturday, September 24, 2011


Irma Segovia is a Spanish teacher who recently was improperly excessed from Jamaica High School. It was a wrongful excess because Ms. Segovia has over twenty years as a regularly appointed teacher and shouldn't be excessed. This is what the UFT contract says about excessing twenty year veterans in Article 17B Rule 10:

“Teachers at all levels who have served 20 years or longer on regular appointment shall not be excessed except for those in neighboring schools who are excessed to staff a newly organized school.”

The language is clear and unambiguous. Nobody is being excessed to staff a new school. They are being excessed to become wandering ATRS. The contract says twenty year teachers should not be excessed but Jamaica had teachers with Rule 10 status excessed in June and the grievance process is playing out slowly as usual. To be fair, I have been working behind the scenes with UFT help to try to get Irma back but DOE basically has said that they don't care about no stinking contract. Making matters worse, we have fourteen classes that are still uncovered while teachers who could teach them are working as substitutes in other schools. Frustration is mounting.

Irma is a wonderful teacher and a fine person who I am happy to know. She volunteered to serve on the school's UFT Chapter Consultation Committee for years and she made a diligent attempt to find a job after being illegally excessed. However, getting an email on Friday night for a mandatory interview Monday clear across town is more than she can take. According to the contract, teachers in excess are supposed to be assigned within their district. After the latest email from DOE, Ms. Segovia sent me this email out of utter frustration and agreed to allow me to post it.

Hi, James:

Here is another attempt by the Human Resources to ignore the UFT contract. They are so convinced they can get away with it, like their new twist on Article 17B rule 10:
"Teachers cannot go back to their schools when the school is being phased out"

Now, they want me to interview outside my district and it is “a mandated interview.”

I have had interviews offered via email but I emailed them back saying it was a hardship
because of the commute (Staten Island, The Bronx, Brooklyn).

Do I have to attend if it is out of my district? It was sent today at 5:00pm through the DOE email. I couldn’t even call them to argue my case because it was sent too late.

All these atrocities, the games being played by the DOE, the ignoring of the UFT contract, the rule bending, and all the other things that go on and ATRs are experiencing (that you won’t even believe because they have not happened to you, yet) MUST be reported and the public must hear the truth behind “the no child left behind excuse.”

Let’s get people from “20/20” or from “60 Minutes” It’s time for the big reporters to report what the mayor and his puppets are doing, have done and will rampantly continue to do to the NY children and to the system if they are not investigated and stopped.

Teachers are held accountable for everything the mayor and the DOE deem wrong or bad even when it does not make sense.

When do the mayor and chancellor and even our questionable Mr. Mulgrew get to be accountable or graded for their irresponsibility for the destruction of the school system in New York City and abuse of power? As long as we keep on paying our dues, never!!!

We were sold out! Our rights are being violated and our integrity as professionals is being questioned.



Thursday, September 22, 2011


On Tuesday the Absent Teacher Reserves from Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island were compelled to go to the Brooklyn Museum to attend a job fair. All of the reports I have received say that there were very few positions there for the hundreds of ATRs who attended.

We are also hearing about schools that are hiring multiple new teachers and passing up on the experienced teachers who are out there. This is really sad.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Tuesday was the day for the latest ATR job fair where experienced teachers had to line up for what we have been told were very few positions. Next week there will be another one of these pseudo hiring halls.

Meanwhile back in Jamaica High School, there is nobody covering the library as the librarian was excessed and has been assigned as an ATR to a school in Long Island City. Therefore, the library is closed most of the day; it is only open because there are no classrooms available so some teachers, including myself, are teaching there. In addition, 35 classes at Jamaica are oversize as our phasing out school is squeezed into a smaller part of the building.

I was also informed by another friend who was excessed from Jamaica that she has nothing to do at her new school. 35 oversize classes at Jamaica with no librarian and teachers are sitting around as ATRs in other schools doing nothing.
How can the DOE, the union, the press and the public allow this to happen?

It gets worse. Today a former colleague, now an ATR, talked about having six working periods in a row in a long term assignment when the contractual maximum is four. I also heard a report about a teacher who quit rather than face a second year as an ATR. In my opinion, this is exactly what the DOE wants.

The agreement that the UFT and DOE signed in June that allows ATRs to be moved every week (I was told weekly rotations will start as early as October) appears to be an effort to make ATRs so fed up with the system so that more of them will resign.

To add further insult to injury, the city eased its so called hiring freeze this summer to further decrease the chances of experienced people being picked up in a different school.

The city lost on non seniority layoffs (Last in First Out) when the state refused to change the civil service law earlier this year but humiliating ATRS by sending them around to different schools every week and making them travel across the city to hiring halls that offer only a few jobs appears to be a way around the law. It looks like the DOE plans to make life so miserable that these professionals will become demoralized and leave. Please hang in there ATRs.

We must push the UFT into supporting ATRS or find another way to help. This situation cannot be allowed to continue. If the UFT tells you that you are lucky to have a job in this economy, I would acknowledge that they have a point but that all teachers, including ATRS, deserve to teach with dignity. The current system robs these pros of a chance to practice their craft in a truly meaningful way.

For those who are in the so called good schools and aren't worried, you should be. It's very easy for the DOE to move well prepared students into schools the DOE likes and flood a school on the DOE hit list with students who are less likely to succeed.

The only positive development is that there has been some coverage of the plight of ATRS in the Huffington Post from my colleague Marc Epstein that was picked up by the NYCATR blog. Chaz and Ed Notes are also noting the brewing anger of ATRs.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


About half of the UFT staff from Jamaica High, and I'm sure many other closing schools too, were recently placed into excess because of a steep decline in enrollments caused by student transfers, graduation and the lack of a grade nine class in our phasing out schools However, that does not mean excessed teachers have no rights. Absent Teacher Reserves need to know that they have not been abandoned by us, no matter where they might be assigned. Some people I know have already found positions while many others are assigned temporarily as ATRs.

Under the agreement reached last June between the DOE and UFT which the Jamaica Chapter opposed, the DOE can reassign UFT ATRs on a weekly basis within the district. This is horrible treatment of these professionals that is educationally unsound as ATRs being moved around on a weekly basis can never develop any kind of rapport with students. However, this nomad provision does not mean the DOE can assign teachers to duties that would not fall under a teacher's job title. Therefore, it should be a maximum of five classes and a professional assignment and no more each day in secondary schools. ATRs are still entitled to a prep and a duty free lunch. If there are problems, let the UFT know about them. Let this blog know too.

If a teacher or other UFT member is offered a full time position and asked to stay for a year as a provisional teacher, understand that this assignment would only be for the remainder of this school year and that next June if a principal doesn't like that teacher's work, the pedagogue will remain as an ATR. Conversely, if the teacher doesn't like that school, he/she can demand to stay as an ATR. It is a mutual consent doctrine.

The DOE always had the right to permanently assign teachers but they generally don't do that these days as far as I can tell. Last June's agreement does allow for teachers who are filling in for a long term absence or leave to be able to decline to be used in a particular position if it becomes an official vacancy.

The DOE has the right to send ATRs on interviews during the regular school day.

The DOE does not have the right under current conditions to assign anyone out of his/her district/superintendency. For example, a high school ATR in Manhattan should be assigned to a Manhattan High School and not to an elementary school or a middle school (unless it is to a school such as a 6-12 school listed in the high school district). Also, an elementary or middle school ATR excessed from District 28 should not be assigned to a school in District 26.

Finally, anyone in excess should know that according to contract Article 17 B Rule 8 that there is a right of return to the school in which the person is excessed. Feel free to use the sample letter below that all excessed teachers should send.


Dear Principal______________________________________:

As per Article 17B Rule 8 of the UFT Contract, I would like to exercise my right of return should a position in my license area, _________________________________________, become available. Please inform me immediately if there is such a vacancy so that I can be placed in it.


Sign Name

Print Name

Email me with questions or concerns. I know this gets complicated but I hope it helps.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


If you haven't already done so, then go on over to the NYC ATR Teacher blog for some real honest insight into the life of an Absent Teacher Reserve. The post about the latest so called DOE job fair is deeply moving. I can confirm from information I have received from other people who were there that NYC-ATR's post is absolutely accurate. Basically, at this time many ATRs appear to be on an informal "Do Not Hire List." Here is an excerpt of the blog piece:

The saddest thing I saw was a male teacher about my age, who had two kids with him, about the ages of my older two. His name tag said, “Technology and Computer Science” and his kids kept pointing to tables saying, “What about this one, Dad?” or “This is a high school, Dad, how about here?” and he kept answering, “No, they don’t want me, they don’t want me.” My heart broke for this man, and my anger flared at a system that throws people on the trash heap like day-old bread.

The ICE UFT blog has been complaining since before the ink dried about how the ATRs were left with third class gypsy status by June's UFT DOE agreement that will allow the DOE to redeploy ATRs to different schools every week this fall.

My phone has been ringing every day and text messages and emails have been pouring in from friends who are ATRs and can't find jobs. Remember, my school is phasing out so roughly half the teachers were excessed in June.

It's time to get these people together at more than just job fairs.


If you are anywhere near a radio or a computer tomorrow, then tune in at 6:00 p.m. to WBAI's Building Bridges show. WBAI is at 99.5 FM or on the web at The show is hosted by Ken Nash and Mimi Rosenberg. Tomorrow's Labor Day special runs from 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

At 6:00 pm there will be a panel discussion on education that will feature Mark Torres, Brenda Walker, Clarence Taylor whose recent book is called Reds at the Blackboard, and ICE-GEM's Yelena Siwinski.

On Wednesday at 4:00 pm ICE is one of the cosponsors of a rally at Tweed (52 Chambers Street in Manhattan) supporting our colleagues who are facing layoff. Here is the media advisory.


September 2, 2011

Mona Davids, New York City Parents Union,

Protest and Rally Against Egregious School Staff Layoffs

Who: Coalition of parents, teachers, labor and community leaders including the New York City Parents Union, Local 327-DC 37, United Federation of Teachers, Coalition for Public Education, Grassroots Education Movement, Class Size Matters, The Mothers' Agenda New York, NYCORE, Teachers Unite, Independent Community of Educators, New York Charter Parents Association and

When: Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Time: 4:00PM

What: Protest & Rally Against Egregious School Staff Layoffs

Where: New York City Department of Education, 52 Chambers Street