Friday, August 08, 2014


I was trying to relax yesterday and escape the education and union worlds for a while but was interrupted multiples times as three reporters contacted me about a Department of Education press release (see below) on the Absent Teacher Reserves.  A different member of the fourth estate called asking for my view on UFT President Michael Mulgrew's speech at the AFT Convention in defense of the Common Core where our leader said he was going to punch someone in the face.

The press seemed interested in why there were so few takers for the ATR severance money which amounted to a few thousand dollars.  I responded easily by saying we need jobs and we're well qualified, mostly experienced teachers who are looking to teach.  I called the severance money insulting and ridiculous.  For the DOE to claim they are saving money is absurd as the few people who took the severance pay were probably going to leave anyway. 

Geoff Decker from Chalkbeat actually found a real live ATR who accepted the money.  Not surprisingly, the teacher could have retired anyway.  You can find the NY 1 piece here (It was nice working with Lindsey Christ again who in the past was very fair when it came to Jamaica HS) and also linked is a recent article in the NY Post on ATRs by Sue Edelman.

It seems none of our intrepid print journalists want to write about (or maybe their editors didn't see fit to cover) the contradiction in the press release that I pointed out to them.

The DOE says, "There will be no forced placements." OK but then two lines later they declare: "If a teacher from the ATR fails to appear at interviews or fails to accept a teaching position he or she is offered, the teacher will be deemed to have resigned from the school system."  That sounds like forced placement to me.

The quote they use from Chancellor Carmen Farina adds to this confusion as she states: "We are pleased that through this educator's contract, we were able to develop a process that is mutually beneficial for the DOE by reducing spending and for the teachers who have chosen to leave. And we are doing so while respecting mutual-consent hiring. There is no forced placement of these teachers.”  (Emphasis added by me)

Let me understand them: Teachers are not going to be forced placed but if we turn down a position or don't show up for an interview we will have resigned.  How is that not forced placement? 

The Farina/DOE anti-teacher bias is fully on display here.  The DOE means ATRs won't be forced on principals but we can be compelled to accept positions at poorly run schools where no teacher in their right mind would want to be employed.

Is there respect for the mutual consent doctrine as Farina claims?  She needs to be called on this statement. There is no mutual consent doctrine for ATRs.  We have to survive until June in a school we are forced placed in. At that time we can request to escape from our provisional assignment.

Many of us will be forced placed and we will then be subject to a harsher disciplinary process, including truncated dismissal hearings since we are still ATRs.

I am so glad Norm Scott traveled to Los Angeles to record much of the AFT Convention.  Norm paid his own way to go to LA.  We should take up a collection to reimburse his airfare, hotel and meal expenses.  Why should only Unity Caucus members who sign the loyalty oath to do as Mulgrew tells them attend conventions on our dime? Norm did a fine public service by recording floor speeches at the AFT Convention and filing numerous reports.

Thanks to Norm, anyone can watch the video of Mulgrew's defense of the indefensible Common Core State Standards and make up their own mind about whether his argument makes any sense. 

Norm and I both told Daily News reporter Stephen Rex Brown how he needs to follow the Bill Gates and Eli Broad money to see why the AFT-NYSUT-UFT are such avid cheerleaders for the Common Core, even though most teachers know these so called standards are just tools for more high stakes testing of teachers and students, while also being used by the education profiteers to make loads of money.  The union is in on the foundation money gravy train so of course they endorse Common Core. Teachers who wrongfully lose their careers because of junk science based evaluation systems linked to Common Core and Race to the Top (which the union also endorsed) are just collateral damage as far as they are concerned. 

To be fair, AFT President Randi Weingarten believes we have to work with the reformers or they will destroy us just like they have basically killed off the industrial unions in this country. When I was on the UFT Executive Board, she called me naïve. She claims we are adapting to tough political times to survive.  I disagree.

I believe if teachers fought back like we were part of a real union at the city, state and national level, teachers, parents and students would rally to our cause and we would emerge victorious.  We could truly save public education if we really used union power instead of trying to appease the people who want to wipe us out.

As for Mulgrew's demeanor, yeah he was insulting but I agree with Norm how we wish Mulgrew would address our enemies with the same defiant tone he used during his AFT floor speech.

Read Norm's important commentary over at Ed Notes.

Full email from DOE press office on ATRs:

Education Reporters,

I want to update you on the first phase of our effort to reduce the size of the Absent Teacher Reserve pool. As part of the new contract with the UFT, if eligible individuals in the ATR pool decided to leave, they got a severance pay-out that was a sliding scale based on years of service up to a maximum of 10 weeks of pay. In the one-time window to take the package that ended this week, 115 people in the ATR, including 97 teachers, opted for a severance package. The average compensation afforded to each was 9 weeks of pay.

Reducing the Size of the ATR Pool:

The deadline to apply for the buyouts was Monday, August 4. As of this spring, there were 1,131 teachers in the ATR pool, with around 1,300 including all UFT titles. Please note that there is no ATR pool over the summer—a new one is established each year when the school year commences. Based on those leaving the ATR as a result of these packages, we expect to begin the coming school year with a smaller ATR pool than last fall. Note: the ATR is historically at its highest point in the fall, as the hiring process is still underway. At the beginning of last fall, it stood at nearly 2,000 teachers.

Cost Savings:

These buyouts represent significant long-term cost savings for the Department. On average, employees who took the compensation package earn $93,000 annually and as a group, when fringe benefits are included, the cost of maintaining these teachers in the ATR would have totaled $15 million in the coming year alone. Instead, the Department anticipates paying around $16,000 per employee for a one-time cost of $1.8 million total.

Further Tools to Reduce the ATR Pool:

Reducing the ATR pool and helping qualified teachers find permanent positions and helping those unfit for the profession move on to other careers continues to be an important priority for the Department. The severance package represented the first step in our new procedures to reduce the ATR pool, and over the coming months, we will move forward with other measures to further reduce the pool based on tools in the new teachers’ contract, including:

·         The DOE is facilitating interviews and introductions to help ATR teachers re-enter the teaching force.  Principals retain the power to hire or decline to hire a teacher from the ATR. There will be no forced placements.
·         If a teacher from the ATR fails to appear at interviews or fails to accept a teaching position he or she is offered, the teacher will be deemed to have resigned from the school system.
·         Starting later in the fall, the DOE will assign ATR teachers to schools with vacancies where they can be used on a temporary, provisional basis to cover classes and be considered for the vacant position. Principals can remove ATR teachers from these assignments at any time.
·         If an ATR teacher in a temporary, provisional assignment in a vacancy demonstrates documented problematic behavior more than once, the DOE will initiate a special 3020a process to expedite disciplinary action including potential termination.

Here is a quote for your use from Chancellor Carmen Fariña: “We're developing a world-class school system, and to do that, we need world-class teachers educating our students. We are pleased that through this educator's contract, we were able to develop a process that is mutually beneficial for the DOE by reducing spending and for the teachers who have chosen to leave. And we are doing so while respecting mutual-consent hiring. There is no forced placement of these teachers.”



Anonymous said...

Thanks Norm. I'll throw in five bucks for Norm COPE to pay for your trip.

ed notes online said...

No worries re $ guys. I was happy to pay my way to the last 3 conventions because it is so much fun to run into 800 people I see every month at the DA, some who I didn't know were even in Unity. And I am a Tier 1.

Anonymous said...

It is obvious they are trying to get rid of us on the cheap. It did not work with this severance package. ATR teachers need to be alert and keep good internal records in the fall when they fill vacancies. I read a comment on another blog about Mulgrew being served, does is this true?

Anonymous said...

ICE should pay for Norm's next trip. So should every UFT,AFT member who wants to see Mulgrew and Randi exposed. I even hear Randi questioned on Twitter if Mulgrew made his punch in the face comment.

Anonymous said...

Served? I would settle for out of office and replaced by ICE/MORE gang.

Mr. Terrell said...

I was insulted to hear both Mulgrew and Weingarten say "our profession". They aren't teachers and barely have been. They have nothing to do with what goes on in the classroom, have no knowledge or deep experience with it, it's slimy for them to talk as if they are one of us.

Anonymous said...

When was the last time Mulgrew delivered instruction based on the Common Core Standards? The hypocrisy is disgusting and Mulgrew, Weingarten and Barr should be called on this. The last time Mulgrew was in the classroom was circa 2005. The last time Randi was in the classroom was over 17 years ago. The members should push this right back at the jerk Mulgrew.

Anonymous said...

You are right but the 2016 election is coming. Support the opposition. No 18% turnout. Vote MORE. No retiree controlled union.Where is someone to run against Randi?

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Karen Magee of NYSUT who ran for president opposing Common Core and now supports it.

Anonymous said...

Not a peep out of this clown Mulgrew for 5 years after our contract expired, and now Mr. Tough guy gives a speech about fighting. He was neutered by Bloomberg and now suddenly, with Bloomberg gone, he grows balls. I always feel like I need a shower after seeing him.

Anonymous said...

Just send him packing in 2016. Up to us.

Anonymous said...

Where was Mulgrew when the previous pattern was set back in 2008 and we were one of the few unions who did not get it at that time. Where was the outrage when ATR's when being constantly attacked in the media for years? Where was the outrage when ATR teachers had incorrect rating sheets this past June? Why didn't he behave the same way in 2009 as he did last month in LA? Mulgrew cannot be trusted and hopefully his methods and ways fall apart quickly.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew screwed a lot of stakeholders in this recent contract. The entire municipal workforce in the city had to settle for an inferior pattern thanks to Mulgrew. ATR's now face reduced due process rights thanks to that dimwit and former teachers now building administrators are considered resigned thanks to Mulgrew. You can also thank Randi for picking him as her successor.

Anonymous said...