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Saturday, August 19, 2017

UFT and DOE Approve Forced Placements For ATRs in October

The new policy of forcing teachers (and Guidance Counselors?) into vacancies in October is not going to work.

Despite what the deformers think about ATRs, most ATRs are the best in the business, wrongfully accused of misconduct or incompetency by Principals who themselves did something wrong, or don't like the employee for any number of reasons, including that they are too expensive.

Although principals will not have to pay the entire salary the first two years, this is just enough time to get two ineffectives on the ATRs' records, and send them into a 3020-a or 3012-c arbitration. The principal has to pay it after the two years. There is going to be angst in the administration because the $100,000 salary could easily hire two or even three newbies without such a high salary. It's a budget problem which has been left out of the mix after the two years. Without senior transfers, the only way to remove a tenured employee is to charge him/her with enough charges of misconduct, neglect of duty, unprofessional behavior, etc., so that something will stick, and the employee can be sent to a 3020-a for termination.

Randy Asher, in charge of moving ATRs to vacancies
The UFT and the DOE are very cunning. They made principals responsible for their school budgets, then do not put the ATRs' salary into a pool so that the school doesn't have to pay all of the salary if the ATR is terrific and wonderful, and should be given the effective/highly effective ratings that he/she deserve. But won't be. Principals are not given any incentive to hire one expensive, senior teacher who knows what to do to have kids learn as opposed to several less experienced employees who are not as skilled, but so what?  The budget trumps any other worries. Grades and exam scores can always be changed, violence in the school can be covered up, etc.

And now that the school system rates teachers on performance using the Danielson rubric, anyone can be charged with incompetency and found guilty - if the proper defense is not present at a 3020-a teacher trial. It is horribly easy to charge anyone in New York City with crimes that they never committed. In a 3012-c hearing, the employee is guilty when he/she walks in the door, and must prove that the charges are false in order to not be terminated.

What may happen is that principals will rate the  ATR ineffective at the end of the year, and legal will charge the ATR with incompetency under 3012-c, and before you can blink, the employee charged will be terminated. The principal of course will testify that the motive behind charging the ATR is the employee's malfeasance, and not the budgetary burden of the ATR's salary. But the argument must be made by the charged employee's defenders that it is the money, not the skills or lack of skill of the ATR which caused the charges to be filed.

The deBlasio administration is in the same position as Mike Bloomberg in 2010, when media made a big issue of the $ millions spent on UFT members sitting in rubber rooms doing nothing. The uproar caused Mike Mulgrew and Mike Bloomberg to close the rubber rooms. Not.

What they actually did was close the big warehouses (8 of them, of various sizes) and hide the re-assigned UFT/CSA members and Guidance Counselors  in many different locations and in small areas of offices. The hearings were sped up, more arbitrators were hired, and the media lay off of the money issue for a while. Now the same issue pops up again. It doesn't have to be this way, but there is no political will to come up with some really good human resources strategy which could benefit the children and the employees as well as take care of the thorny issue of the budget. We can send someone to the moon, but we cannot handle human beings on earth properly.

So here we go again.

Betsy Combier
 betsy.combier@gmail.com
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, Parentadvocates.org
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials                                                                                                                                                                 

NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina and NYC Mayor Bill deBlasio

City Will Move Sidelined Teachers From Limbo to Classrooms


For a dozen years, hundreds of New York City teachers have been paid despite not having permanent jobs, sidelined in most cases because of disciplinary problems or bad teaching records or because they had worked in poorly performing schools that were closed or where enrollment declined.

This limbo was largely the result of a deal that the Bloomberg administration struck with the teachers’ union to give principals more control over who worked in their schools. Under the deal, teachers could not simply be fired, so they were put in a pool known as the Absent Teacher Reserve.

But now, saying the city cannot afford expenditures like the $150 million it spent on salaries and benefits for those in the reserve in the last school year, the education department plans to place roughly 400 teachers inclassrooms full time, possibly permanently. They will be placed in schools that still have jobs unfilled by mid-October. Principals will have little, if any, say in the placements. Neither will the teachers.

The department, which announced the plan in July, has in the past deflected questions about the makeup of the pool. But on Friday, it released some data. Of the 822 teachers in the reserve at the end of the last school year, 25 percent had also been in it five years earlier. Nearly half had been in it at the end of the 2014-15 school year. The average salary was $94,000 a year, $10,000 more than the average salary of teachers across the school system.

Close to a third of the teachers in the pool were there because they had faced legal or disciplinary charges. Others worked in schools that were closed for poor performance or lost their jobs because of declining enrollments. Twelve percent had received the lowest possible ratings of effectiveness in the 2015-16 school year; only 1 percent of all teachers in the system scored so low.

With the beginning of the school year weeks away, principals and others who work in education are wary.

Harry Sherman, the principal of Junior High School 127, Castle Hill Middle School, in the Bronx, said that while some teachers in the pool, often referred to as A.T.R.s, are unfairly stigmatized, “There are also A.T.R.s who are A.T.R.s because we have had the choice of whether or not we want to take them. And sometimes those people are not good fits for schools.”

Daniel Weisberg, the chief executive officer of the New Teacher Project, who worked for the Education Department under former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, said: “We’ve got this group of teachers who either can’t find a job or won’t find a job. That’s the group we’re dealing with.”

Education experts are worried that a disproportionate number of the teachers will be placed in schools in poorer areas, like the South Bronx, which have difficulty attracting and retaining teachers. Some may be placed in schools in the Renewal Schools program, one of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature education initiatives, which is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to turn around low-performing schools.

The principal of a high school in Manhattan, who did not want to be named out of fear of reprisal from supervisors in the department, was blunt about the effect: “You’re going to force the worst teachers in the system into the schools that are struggling the most.”

But the city described the plan as a “common-sense solution” to the problems of both vacancies and the cost of paying unassigned teachers.

“My role is to drive down the A.T.R. and to help take these resources and put them back in schools,” said Randy Asher, the senior adviser to the chancellor for talent management and innovation, and the former principal of Brooklyn Technical High School.

The number of teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve increased dramatically after the deal made in 2005 by the Bloomberg administration, which was seeking to close failing schools, and the United Federation of Teachers. Before then, teachers with seniority could claim whatever job they wanted, displacing novice teachers without so much as having to interview with a principal. And teachers without assignments were involuntarily placed in whatever positions were open.

The deal ended that system and let principals decide whom to hire. Teachers who could not find jobs or were not happy with ones available went into the A.T.R., at full salary.

Reserve teachers do monthlong rotations in schools, frequently serving as substitutes, and some get longer temporary assignments. In the last few years, the department has offered principals incentives to hire teachers from the pool by picking up all or part of their salaries for the first two or three years. It has also offered teachers in the pool buyouts. As result, on the first day of school last year — traditionally the point in the year when the pool is largest — there were 1,494 teachers in the pool, down from 1,957 on the first day of school in 2013.

The department says the new policy of placing teachers in vacancies is expected to reduce the size of the pool by half.

In interviews, Mr. Asher and Michael Mulgrew, the president of the teachers’ union, used similar language to defend the plan, saying that it was better for students to have a permanent teacher with the appropriate license than to have a rotation of substitutes.
Michael Mulgrew, UFT President


“We’re talking about being five, six weeks into the semester where they still don’t have a permanent teacher,” Mr. Asher said. “We need to provide stability in these learning environments.”

Mr. Mulgrew said, “What we’re trying to do is give a more stable educational environment for the students.”

A recently retired principal of a school in a hard-to-staff district disputed the idea that putting any teacher into a vacancy was better than other possible solutions. “I have had over the past five years a lot of A.T.R.s come in,” said the principal, who spoke anonymously for fear of repercussions for the school. “And I have to say, less than 10 percent of them — way less, maybe 5 percent of them — would I hire.”

Lynette Guastaferro, the executive director of Teaching Matters, said that in high-poverty schools, it was particularly important that principals be able to choose teachers carefully.

“Kids living in poverty need schools led by strong teams with shared cultures and the best teaching possible,” she wrote in an email.

Principals who are forced to take the teachers will observe them over the course of the year. Teachers who earn an “effective” rating from the principal at the end of the year will then, in most cases, be placed in their positions permanently.

Asked what would happen to teachers who at the end of the year received a less than effective rating, Mr. Asher said the department would, in some cases, start the legal process to remove them.

Nicholas Weber, a special-education teacher who has been in the Absent Teacher Reserve for three years after losing his job at Murry Bergtraum High School for Business Careers because of declining enrollment, said he thought the policy would motivate principals to give bad ratings to teachers so as to not have to hire them permanently.

“It questions the legitimacy of the ratings,” he said.

Mr. Weisberg, who helped negotiate the 2005 deal when he was at the Education Department, said that one problem with the new policy was that once principals can no longer choose their teachers, it becomes harder to hold them accountable for their schools’ performance.

“The idea that principals get final say over which teachers get selected to work in their buildings should not be thought of as a crazy radical notion,” he said. “This is common sense.”

**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE** AUGUST 18, 2017

Statement on High Cost of DOE's Absent Teacher Reserve Program 

New York, NY – Families for Excellent Schools' CEO Jeremiah Kittredge released the following statement on the high cost of the New York City Department of Education's Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) program. During the 2016-2017 school year, this program cost more than $150 million. 

Jeremiah Kittredge, CEO, Families for Excellent Schools:
“Spending more than $150 million to force bad teachers into classrooms is inexcusable, plain and simple. This money could pay for programs that actually help New York City's children, but unfortunately Mayor de Blasio is more concerned with the UFT’s priorities than he is with student achievement.”
As the below analysis shows, the funds spent on ATR could've instead gone towards a wide variety of initiatives that benefit city students. 

What Could DOE Buy With $151.6 Million? Possibilities Stifled By the Absent Teacher Reserve

Currently 822 teachers make up NYC’s Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR), and the city announced it will place nearly half of these unassigned teachers into vacant positions this fall (1). Previously the city offered an incentive system to encourage schools to hire from the ATR -- but come October 15, vacant positions will be filled using ATR teachers with or without school principal consent (2).

This change is ostensibly aimed at reducing the high costs of maintaining the ATR, which previously hovered around $100 million per year but climbed to a staggering $151.6 million in salary and fringe benefits during the 2016-17 school year (3).  A review of high-value, high-cost DOE expenditure items reveals what this money could instead accomplish if DOE didn’t spend it on teachers who aren’t even teaching and might ultimately never teach again.

If DOE hadn’t spent $151.6 million on the ATR last year, the City could have sent that money to:

  • Almost double the footprint of the Mayor’s newest initiative aimed at New York City’s youngest learners: 3K For All. Currently, 3K For All has a budget of  $177 million and will only serve one quarter of NYC school districts this fall. With a dramatic infusion of cash, the 3K For All budget would nearly double and could potentially double the number of districts served (4).

  • Allocate enough additional capital funding to construct between two and six brand new schools. NYC School Construction Authority currently lists 8 new school projects in construction, with an average cost of $66.5 million. ATR spending could fund nearly 3 new buildings (5).

  • More than triple the $47 million pledged to support the expansion of school climate resources and mental health programs. NYC DOE plans to increase student safety with additional training on “restorative practices, de-escalation techniques and crisis intervention procedures (6)."

  • Quintuple city funding and support services for homeless students. DOE pledged $30 million in April 2016 to aid homeless students, $10.3 million of which was on the chopping block during the preliminary budget process. DOE’s wasted ATR expenditure could have funded this near-shortfall -- earmarked to hire social workers and create literacy programs in homeless shelters -- nearly 15 times over (7).

  • Ensure every kid who wants a school lunch, can have a lunch. Feeding hungry students is a no-brainer and enjoys broad political support across the five boroughs. Expanding the universal free lunch program to students citywide would cost a fraction of ATR spending. Pricetag? $20.25 million (8).

  • Save millions in salary spending next year at schools that will be forced to staff former ATR teachers due to DOE’s recent policy change. Last fall the average ATR teacher received $94,000 in salary while the base salary for a city teacher was just $54,000. These high-salaried former ATR teachers are poised to take a massive bite out of budgets at the schools where DOE is about to force them on principals who don’t want to staff them in the first place -- and all of this money could instead be spent on resources principals know they actually need (9).

(4) Mayor de Blasio Announces 3-K for All.” The Official Website of the City of New York. 24 April 2017
(5) Data collected by NYC Open Data and reported by School Construction Authority. FES identified three new school buildings currently in development at pricetags ranging from $27.6 million to $98.8 million.
(6)“ Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner O'Neill and Chancellor Fariña Announce Safest School Year on Record.” The Official Website of the City of New York, 1 August 2017.
(7)Shapiro, Eliza. “$10M to support homeless students omitted from de Blasio's preliminary budget proposal.” Politico New York. 24 January 2017
(8) Durkin, Erin. “City borough presidents want Mayor de Blasio to push for free public school lunches.” NY Daily News. 17 April 2017  

Friday, August 18, 2017

Yes, You Can Be Fired For What You Do/Say Outside of Your Workplace

Can an employee be fired for activities outside the workplace?

In the social media age, the line between personal and professional lives has all but disappeared

In the wake of recent protests and subsequent violence in Charlottesville, a Twitter account with the handle @YesYoureARacist announced its intent to reveal the identities of those who marched in favor of white nationalism in order to, in the short-term, get them fired from their jobs.

Naturally, that got a lot of employers (and employment lawyers) thinking about how they might respond if one of their employees was shown to be one of those participants.

They might have even wondered, can those employees be fired? According to a blog post by Jon Hyman, partner at Meyers Roman Friedberg and Lewis, they certainly can. Hyman's post focused on the firing of a man who was exposed by @YesYoureARacist for participating in the demonstrations in Charlottesville. Hyman's point: There’s perfectly good legal precedence for firing an employee for certain disruptive behaviors, even if done during off-work hours.

 There was a time when employers could decide how to manage employeebehavior based solely on what happened in the workplace without worrying about the specter of social media blowback. But what was once considered private is now part of a personally curated public broadcast that all, including employers, can see. In an era in which most people share scores of details about themselves publicly every day, the line between what employers can and should look at and what they can ignore has all but disappeared.

If anything, the employer anxiety that rose post-Charlottesville represents a generational shift in the understanding of social media, of privacy and of what behavior is acceptable both inside and outside of work.

HR Dive spoke with Hyman about that transformation and the new context within which employers must consider employee behavior. The conversation below has been edited for style and length.

HR Dive: Obviously we’ve seen a lot of opinions in the days since the events in Charlottesville. I’m curious if anyone asked you any questions or sent any comments about your piece arguing participants in the white nationalist demonstrations could be fired?
Jon Hyman: I’ve gotten feedback on both sides of the issue. I’ve had people saying thanks for saying this, I couldn’t agree with you more. But I have some people that have said private time isn’t an employer’s business, and that this employer — speaking specifically of the one in the blog — has no proof this guy was a neo-Nazi, they just saw a photo of him marching at this rally. Who is this employer to fire him for what he did on his personal time?

It’s so interesting because we all have these Facebook accounts and Instagram accounts and Twitter accounts and we all have these incredibly powerful cameras or phones in our pockets or purses that has turned every person on the planet into a photo and video journalist.

There’s a guy, Jason Seiden, I saw him speak at an HR conference, and he used the term 'profersonal,' which I think he coined. So I have since used that word with attribution to him to explain what I feel, which is that there is no longer the existence of a personal persona and a professional persona because social media has so intertwined everything. Back ten years ago, you punch the time clock, you go home and no one knows what you did at home ... now everyone knows what you do 24/7 because you broadcast it.

It’s frankly not enough to say you are only broadcasting it to your 200 friends on Facebook and it’s a closed network and I have my privacy settings set appropriately so my employer can’t see it. But when you are Facebook friends with someone you work with — even if you are not friends with your boss — once they print that post out, then everything is fair game.
When you post a comment on someone’s post, you are not having a private conversation. All of your connections are seeing it.

HR Dive: Social media obviously played a role in revealing who these people were this weekend, which just highlights some of the weird situations employers are exposed to now that they might not have been 20 or even 10 years ago. Now employees might not understand they can post something and easily lose control of a situation.
Hyman: Right, you’ve lost control. Nothing you do is private. And that includes as you walk down the street.

There are cameras everywhere. We are, for better or for worse, being monitored or seen just about 24/7. And most of it is self-inflicted, because we are out there posting. Everyone’s diaries are no longer locked books in their nightstand next to their bed. They are all there for the world to see.

So for these white supremacist marchers to say, “This is my private time, that’s not fair that I’m being held accountable by my employer for my private time,” well, you were in about as highly visible a place as you could be. You have to assume risk that you will be photographed and your face seen everywhere. And you risk that your employer sees it and says that’s not who I want working for me.

HR Dive: Has this rise of social media changed company policy at all? Or has it just made explicit what was kind of unspoken?

Hyman: I don't think it's changed company policy. It’s just given employers so much more access to information about their employees' behaviors.

I saw it in my practice four years ago when Barack Obama won the second term. The morning after the election, I started getting phone calls saying “So-and-so just called into HR because his co-worker called Obama the N word on their Facebook page and they no longer feel safe working with someone who uses those words. What do I do?”

The workplace essentially now has extended beyond the walls of the workplace. I see it as no different than if a group of employees goes out for happy hour after work and a male employee gets handsy with a female employee and grabs her inappropriately. If the female employee goes to HR or a supervisor sees it and does nothing, the company’s got issues.
HR has an obligation to employees that work together, whether it is a work event or not, or within the workplace or out. Social media has just broken those walls down further and maybe brought the outside world further into the workplace.

HR Dive: Will we see any changes to policy or legal protections because of how much that extends now? Will there be consequences of the blending of personal and professional lives?

Hyman: Some states have off-duty conduct laws. There are 29 states that protect employees that engage in lawful, off duty conduct. Some people call them “smoker’s rights laws” or “gun owner’s rights laws.” It’s legal to smoke, it’s legal to own a gun assuming you have a permit, so it would be illegal for an employer to fire you for this legal off-duty conduct. But it would be the same if you peaceably marched in a permitted event. When that crosses the line to the violence seen in Charlottesville, it's a totally different ball game.

We’ve seen the NLRB in the Obama administration take a very liberal view of the definition of protected concerted activity under the NLRA and really went through some contorted machinations to pigeonhole facially neutral social media policies to find that either those policies were illegal as written or illegal as applied regarding employee communications. Those are two areas that come to mind.

I look at the issue almost generationally. I think we have very different concepts of what privacy means. My parents’ generation … they don’t fully understand that social media conversations are not private, or they think it is private — and it isn’t.

I’m smack in the middle of Gen X, so my view of privacy is a little different, and I look at my kids who are 9 and 11, and they have grown up in a social media world and they will not remember a time without iPhones and Facebook. They’ve grown up in a world where Mom and Dad share everything we do on Facebook, so they will inherently have a different concept of what privacy is — that most of what we do out in public is not private.

HR Dive: One angle I’ve noticed is one side saying “Maybe keep these employees on and teach them why their ways are hurtful to others.” What are your thoughts on that?

Hyman: Here’s the way I kind of frame the issue in my brain. If a client calls me and says, “It has come to our attention that so and so employee was marching at Charlottesville over the weekend. It has made some of our employees and customers uncomfortable ... what do we do?”

There’s really two issues here. There’s the internal employee issue and the external public relations piece. Where I come down on the issue is ... if an employer wants to try and rehabilitate someone, more power to you. I think you are probably fighting a losing battle, but if you think that is your role, more power to you.

If you choose to fire the individual — which if it was my business that is what I would do — I think it is important to take a stand and signal to your other employees that type of behavior is not who we are. We don’t tolerate that here.

To take a slight detour, I approach LGBT issues the same way. There’s no real national consensus on whether Title VII covers national LGBT rights in employment, but I tell employers that there’s no point in waiting to get that guidance we will at some point get. Why wait? Send a message to your employees that you are an employer of inclusion, not exclusion, and just put LGBT rights in your handbook. This is our policy. This is who we are.

And I look at this issue the same way. This is who we are — or, more to the point, who we aren’t. We aren’t an employer who tolerates, condones, accepts or whatever this behavior. Inside the workplace, outside the workplace, period. You can send that message of inclusion to the rest of your employees.

Whatever legal theories are out there that someone can sue an employer on — whether it is lawful off-duty conduct, or protected concerted activity under the NLRA, or if you are a government employer, or a private employer since some states specifically protect speech rights in the workplace, or religious expression under Title VII, or a race discrimination claim because of my whiteness or whatever claim an employee can concoct — you need to understand what risks are out there.

But as long as you understand the risks, I would tell the employee, “This is not the workplace for you, and if you want to sue us, bring it on. I’d be happy to defend my decision in court that this is not the type of behavior inside or outside of work that helps define who we are as a company.” 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The NYC Department of Education Has Not Provided Librarians To 87% of Harlem Schools, Says the NY POST

Just a few weeks ago NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina was tooting her horn over a "new policy" of integration, wasn't she?

Diversity in Admissions in New York City Will Bring Integration to the City's Public Schools....or Not



I guess the "new policy" does not include Harlem.

Betsy Combier

DOE fails to provide Harlem schools with librarians: activists
NYPOST, Sue Edelman, August 4, 2017


School librarians are all but ­extinct in Harlem.
The Department of Education has failed to provide librarians at 87 percent of Harlem schools that are legally required to staff them, according to a group of activists.
State education law mandates that schools serving kids in grades seven to 12 must have a librarian on staff to develop research skills.
“In a secondary school with an enrollment of more than 700 but less than 1,000 pupils, a certified school library media specialist shall devote the entire school day to school library work,” the law states. For schools with less than 700 kids, a part-time librarian is required.
The Harlem Council of Elders, a community advocacy group, said that requirement goes all but ignored in their schools — and that 10,000 mostly black and Latino students are suffering for it.
“This is crucial for their education,” said Diane Tinsley of Community Education Council 5. “They don’t have this fundamental skill — how to research. This is something kids in other areas know how to do because they have those resources.”
Citing DOE data, CEC 5 found that 40 of the 46 schools in five Harlem districts that qualified for librarian staffing didn’t have one.
In District 4, not a single school requiring the presence of a librarian staffed one.
Tinsley said Harlem students are receiving diplomas but end up lost at the collegiate level without some of the skills that a librarian could help to impart.
“They jump into college without these basic skills,” she said. “A lot of them end up taking remedial classes and having to use up their financial aid to do so. It’s a serious problem and no one seems to want to do anything about it.”
The DOE suggested Friday that there’s a shortage of certified librarians to staff city schools.
“While there are challenges in identifying and hiring library media specialists in New York City and across the state, we’ll continue our investments in libraries and students’ reading skills,” said DOE spokesman Will Mantell.
Mantell said that the DOE would be placing “reading coaches” in District 5 and 6 elementary schools but did not cite any imminent plans for the secondary school librarian drought.
The Harlem Council of Elders blasted the lack of a specific plan and said that their patience is wearing thin.
“This discriminatory practice is shameful, illegal, and must end immediately,” the group said.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

ATR Scum Endangering NYC Children, Scream Uninformed Parents

My goodness, there seems to be a feeding frenzy on the Absent Teacher Reservists in NYC (ATRs).
StudentsFirstNY staged a protest outside the mayor's gym last week to protest the new policy
NYC’s plan to place teachers from its Absent Teacher Reserve pool could take a bite out of school budgets

The media is to blame, see the absurd comment posted below. Comments by the uninformed basically can be seen as ads for a change in policy, about to be announced by the DOE.

I also posted below the missing money and computers from DOE schools, showing that the ATR situation is not the only mess currently being looked at.

NYC Mayor De Blasio and NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina are implicated in this scheme to so defame the ATRs as to effectively get them removed from their jobs by an arbitrator at 3020-a faster than a blink of the eye. In fact, I just did a 3020-a for a teacher who had a Specification that charged him with making the NYC Department of Education "look bad" by having articles published about him and how he abused kids (not).

Thus, incredibly, he was charged with false claims against him being published in the news (mostly the Daily News) and making the DOE look like they hire child abusers as teachers. Incredible. And the guy is innocent, on top of it.

What is happening is that the UFT and the DOE want to get rid of the mess they made by having teachers who are not terminated at 3020-a become, automatically, ATRs. ATRs who win their 3020-a hearings have been able to prove that the charges against them were false and/or unproven by a preponderance of the evidence. These winners ARE NOT GUILTY as charged.

But the UFT and DOE must make all ATRs guilty of something, because they are about ready to sign an agreement (just like they did in 2010 to end the rubber rooms), to change the policies regarding the ATR charging process and rotation. The media is an important part of this strategy. Without parents and deformer groups standing up to decry the despicable criminals in the ATR pool harming every child in their classes, the mess that is the ATR situation would not be seen as a disaster, and someone may point a finger at the UFT and/or the DOE for creating the mess in the first place.

UFT President keeps saying nothing in press releases:

Mulgrew reacts to ATR articles

JULY 26, 2017
The UFT reached agreement on June 1 with the Department of Education on a voluntary severance package for UFT members who are in the Absent Teacher Reserve for at least one school year. The agreement sparked several newspaper editorials attacking the ATRs.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew issued the following statement in response:
Our recent ATR agreement generated its share of teacher-bashing editorials. Whether the media will print any of our rebuttals is an open question, but what is not up for debate is the UFT’s conviction that members of the ATR pool provide needed services to schools and that their work should be respected.

Teachers whose schools have been closed or downsized will fill vacant classrooms in their chosen subjects this fall. Members in the ATR pool will also continue to play a valuable role in schools by filling in for teachers who are sick or on another form of sick leave.

The real problem facing New York City schools is the thousands of teachers in good standing who walk out the door every year for other systems or other professions because of large classes, lack of supplies and managers who do not support their efforts to help children learn.

Perhaps one of the editorial writers will accept my offer and join me on one of my school visits. Facts and time spent in the city's public schools would make for more accurate editorials.

I am pointing to the UFT for not giving representation to ATRs and not allowing a chapter or chapter leader for ATRs. I am pointing to the DOE for automatically making all tenured teachers who win (are not terminated) the 3020-a arbitration into ATRs, and thus expanding the number of tenured "glorified-substitutes-ATRs" for no reason.

Many ATRs are the best in the education business:

ATR EC, for instance, one of the best science teachers ever, charged with abuse when he tapped a girl in his class on the shoulder and said "good job!" when she got a passing grade on her test;

ATR BP, another brilliant science teacher, accused of verbally abusing the students in his class when he told them they must study or they would have to go to summer school, and he had been re-assigned out of the classroom before the event in the classroom listed in the charges occurred. no one, not even the arbitrator, could make sense of that;

ATR EM, asked where the special education teacher was for the ICT class, charged with incompetency;

ATR LL charged with "losing" a student at dismissal time, who was never missing nor did anyone ask where he was and the student was never interviewed;

etc, I could go on and on. The charges are just irrational in soooo many cases.

NY Daily News and Chalkbeat: why aren't you doing THAT Story?

Betsy Combier
betsy.combier@gmail.com
Editor, NYC Rubber Room Reporter
Editor, Parentadvocates.org
Editor, New York Court Corruption
Editor, National Public Voice
Editor, NYC Public Voice
Editor, Inside 3020-a Teacher Trials

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Center; NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina, on his right

Don’t force a dud teacher on my kid: The mayor's decision to override principals will hurt families like mine
NY Daily News
by Nicole Thomas

As a mother, I try to do everything I can for my daughter. I make sure she eats well and works hard and I’m involved in her education. I do my part, and when I drop her off at school, I want to know that the educators are doing theirs. I have to trust that the principal is picking the best teachers and holding them to high standards.

Last month, Mayor de Blasio made a decision that shatters the trust I have when I send my daughter to school. Principals across the city will no longer be able to select the teachers they want if they’re unable to fill a vacancy; instead, breaking a promise made by Chancellor Carmen Fariña, the city will force on the school an unwanted teacher from the Absent Teacher Reserve, or ATR.

This is the pool of teachers from across the city who lose positions at their schools, either due to school closures, budget cuts or enrollment changes, or because of disciplinary records. They land in the ATR — sometimes for a short period, sometimes for a long one — because they are unable or unwilling to find full-time teaching positions after losing their placements.

ATR teachers currently work in schools in month-to-month stints on an as-needed basis; now de Blasio and Fariña want to send them back into full-time positions in our classrooms.

In a rational world, if a teacher couldn’t find a job somewhere in our massive school system, he or she would be cut loose. But because of the extreme legal and contract protections teachers have in this city and state, public-school teachers who lose one job and can’t find another stay on payroll.

It would be bad enough if ATR teachers being sent back into full-time jobs would be equitably distributed across the city. But based on everything we know, they are certain to be concentrated in low-income neighborhoods, which already get the short end of the stick educationally.

Nearly two years ago, an education group requested information about who was in the ATR at that time and where they are being placed. The Department of Education wouldn’t release details.

We know that in 2014, a third of the teachers in the ATR had unsatisfactory ratings and a quarter faced disciplinary charges. More than half of them had stopped even applying for teaching jobs, meaning they weren’t so interested in being in the classroom. Many if not most of these teachers are unwanted for a reason.

But all the mayor seems to care about is rewarding the teachers union during an election year. So instead of fighting to protect public-school kids, he is focused on building support for his reelection campaign.

I started to become very concerned about teacher quality ever since a teacher at my kid’s school, Public School 256 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, was arrested and later convicted.

Parents should trust that only quality teachers can stay in the system, but the ATR pool is evidence of the opposite.

In September, my daughter is starting fifth grade at PS 256, and I am terrified that a subpar ATR teacher, or one with a disciplinary record, is going to become her teacher. There are vacancies at the school, so this is a very real possibility. When principals don’t have final hiring authority, the chances increase that a bad apple can be placed in the classroom.

A 2015 report by the federal Education Department confirmed what many of us feel every day in our communities. Schools in low-income areas with high percentages of minority students tend to have more teacher vacancies.

So when de Blasio sets out to empty the ATR pool, these impossible-to-place teachers are going to end up in schools with lots of vacancies. In other words, the worst teachers will be sent to schools with families who don’t have the political clout to protect their kids.

Just because I live in Bed-Stuy doesn’t mean my kids deserve any less than the kids in Park Slope or the Upper East Side.

I am fed up at having my kids constantly be treated like second-class citizens in this very unequal public school system. I know the mayor would never have allowed this to happen in his own kids’ schools, so he shouldn’t do it in mine.

Kids in my neighborhood deserve quality teachers, not the system’s leftovers.

Thomas is the parent of a rising fifth-grader at PS 256.

Controller audit of NYC schools shows 1,800 computers are missing

NYC Education Dept. can't account for how $347M was spent on internet upgrades, controller says

Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis blasted Department of Education spending Tuesday, calling
for the Department of Investigation to look into de Blasio’s handling of the agency.
NY Daily News, August 1, 2017

Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis called Tuesday for a Department of Investigation probe of education contracting, charging wasteful spending has run rampant under Mayor de Blasio.

Malliotakis cited three recent audits by City Controller Scott Stringer — who has endorsed de Blasio for re-election — into the Department of Education that found missing equipment or a lack of documentation on how money was spent.

“We can’t continue to keep throwing money at problems and hoping that something sticks,” the Staten Island Assemblywoman said at a press conference outside City Hall. “But Mayor ‘I don’t care’ de Blasio doesn’t seem to have a regard for the taxpayers of the city or for the children of our city.”

One audit by Stringer found that more than 1,800 computers were missing from nine schools and school offices, while thousands more were not properly accounted for in records.

Another audit found DOE spent hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade internet at public schools, but couldn’t provide any budgets or timelines, and more than half of surveyed schools said internet was too slow to meet their needs.

A separate probe found that 98% of sampled payments to the New York City Leadership Academy, which got more than $100 million in contracts for teacher and principal coaching, were not supported by required documentation.

Stringer criticized the GOP pol for invoking his reports.

"Our audit shouldn't be used as a political football. We do this work for our kids — and it shouldn't be cheapened and exploited by adults,” his spokesman Tyrone Stevens said.

While each matter has already been audited, Malliotakis said DOI was better equipped to investigate whether there are systematic failings in DOE’s contracting because its investigators have subpoena power and can make referrals for criminal charges, though she did not cite any evidence that a crime occurred.

“The DOE is a bureaucratic nightmare and because it is a bureaucratic nightmare you are seeing contracts like this,” she said. “The children of our city, the teachers of our city are not seeing this money trickle to the classroom despite spending more than any other state in the nation.”

De Blasio dismissed his opponent’s attacks, which have also recently included going after his supervised release program.

“The things she talks about consistently show that she’s out of touch with the values of New Yorkers,” he said Tuesday.

“People all over the city want to see fewer people incarcerated with the right rules in place to make sure that public safety is preserved. They certainly want to see Rikers Island closed,” he said. “We’ll have plenty of time to debate issue by issue, but I think her values as a conservative Republican, her values are out of touch with people of New York City. I think that’s an obvious statement.”

DOI declined to comment.

WITH JILLIAN JORGENSEN