A close-up look at NYC education policy, politics,and the people who have been, are now, or will be affected by these actions and programs. ATR CONNECT assists individuals who suddenly find themselves in the ATR ("Absent Teacher Reserve") pool and are the "new" rubber roomers, people who have been re-assigned from their life and career. A "Rubber Room" is not a place, but a process.
In a resounding win for teacher professionalism and teacher voice, anarbitratorhas ruled that “lesson plans are for the personal use of the teacher” and that principals may not “mandate specific elements of lesson plans.”
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said the ruling validated what the union has insisted throughout the yearlong arbitration hearings: “You as the teacher should decide what informationyou need to write down in order to teach a particular lesson.”
While arbitrator Deborah Gaines acknowledged that written lesson plans are required of all teachers, she specifically noted that “the specifics of the plan will be left to the professional judgment of theteacher.”
Mulgrew noted that the arbitrator’s decision “also helps to reduce the amount of paperwork required of teachers, a goal that is mirrored in our proposed contract.”
The union-initiated grievance charged that the Department ofEducationwas violating Articles 8E and 20, specifically Special Circular 28, which was agreed to in contract negotiationsin 1990, by allowing principals to require that teachers include specific elements in their lesson plans. The contract articles and the circular establish that what goes into a lesson plan is up to the discretion of the teacher and further prohibits the “routinized and mechanical” collection of lesson plans in schools.
Celebrating the victory she helped to achieve,GrievanceDirector Ellen Gallin-Procida noted, “As someone who was teaching in 1990, I remember just how significant this change was, and I find it unthinkable that they would try to take away our voice.”
The arbitrator pointed out that since the lesson plan is only a part of the whole process of planning a lesson, it can serve as a starting point for a conversation on planning but cannot be evaluated in isolation. She made a distinction between evaluating an actual lesson, which supervisors have every right to do, and evaluating a lesson plan in a vacuum, which they may not do.
Addressing the union’s concern that the DOE might try to circumvent the ruling, the arbitrator warned the DOE not to “institute policies to serve as a smoke screen for the mechanical, ritualized collection of lesson plans or other types of impermissible activity under Article 8E of Special Circular 28.”