As New York City teachers, we can usually count on our union, the United Federation of Teachers, to represent our employer's interests at least as much as ours if not more so. Case in point: excessing in phasing out schools. As a school phases out, obviously the staff is going to shrink as each year there is one less grade. However, the UFT Contract has a clause that protects senior teachers. It is Article 17B, Rule 10 which states:
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.
That is strong, unambiguous language that prevents excessing of senior teachers. However, unbeknownst to anyone out of the inner circle of the UFT and Department of Education, last September the two sides reached an agreement to allow twenty year teachers to be excessed. For teachers in non phasing out schools, they are excessed within their own schools. They become Absent Teacher Reserves who cover for classes of absent teachers but they are not subject to the horrible week-to-week rotation to different schools that other ATRs have been forced to endure since the 2011 UFT-DOE agreement on ATRs.
Since many Rule 10 teachers are serving in license areas where there are not that many openings, these people no longer have to teach out of license in order to stay in their own buildings. The remainder of the Rule 10 people are primarily teachers from schools that are downsizing, usually phasing out schools.
There is absolutely no reason for the UFT, which says they are against school closings, to not hold the DOE to the letter of Rule 10 in a school that is downsizing. However, as part of the agreement from last September, the parties agreed that the DOE can excess veteran teachers in the last year of a school's phase out and send them into the week-to-week rotation pool. This makes no sense educationally and it is a mindless concession on the part of the UFT.
Students and staff in closing schools have already been harmed a great deal through the phase out process as we have been labeled as failures by the city. The DOE then does everything it can to push students out of phasing out schools by not offering many of the classes that numerous pupils require for graduation and then telling them repeatedly that they should transfer.
Each year as the school loses a grade, there are fewer students so the staff is cut proportionally. As a result, there is less access to more parts of the school building for the remaining students and there are extremely limited course offerings. Having the Rule 10 people in the school provided much needed stability for the kids as at least there were known faces that pupils could turn to for college recommendations, advice, tutoring and support. In addition, having more teachers meant the DOE was compelled to provide more real classes as opposed to internet classes that are not rigorous and pupils complain about constantly. Rule 10 teachers guaranteed a modicum of normalcy in the insane world that is a closing school. This logic was ignored by UFT leaders when they agreed to force people contractually entitled to stay in a school out of their buildings.
Apparently, the UFT was not too proud about this Rule 10 agreement as President Michael Mulgrew only mentioned it in passing last fall and he never handed the full agreement out to us to let the Delegate Assembly vote on it. I only found out about it because the principal of my school gave me a copy in June.
Finally, for those hoping the UFT leaders would save us legally as they filed suit in 2011 to stop that year's round of school closings, a friend informed me that there have been no papers filed on that suit since May 2012. Have they abandoned us there as well?
Happy Labor Day all and I hope to start posting regularly again as the school year begins.