Tuesday, September 16, 2008

ATR's Galore

By YOAV GONEN, Education Reporter

Posted: 4:17 am
September 16, 2008

The number of teachers without classroom assignments at the start of the school year - but receiving full pay - jumped by more than 13 percent since last year, according to new data.

The pool of teachers known as the Absent Teacher Reserve - which grew from 1,220 teachers last year to 1,395 this year - has grown annually since a 2005 teachers' contract amendment gave principals more say over hiring decisions.

The agreement gave principals the freedom not to hire teachers who had been cut from shrinking or closing schools - yet guaranteed the teachers who couldn't find new jobs their full salaries to work as substitutes.

The pool has cost the city as much as $81 million over the past two years, according to a study conducted earlier this year by The New Teacher Project, an organization that's paid to train teachers for the city.

The nonprofit agency's April report called for putting teachers on unpaid leave after they had spent a year in the ATR pool as a way to reduce the city's bills and to encourage teachers to actively seek permanent assignments.

Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein supported the report's findings - but education officials said talks with the teachers union have not risen to the level of "negotiation."

One potential remedy - buyouts - has not been broached yet because a price per teacher has not been worked out with the union.

Education officials also said they're wary that teachers who were looking to exit the system anyway might use it as a lucrative escape hatch.

"The buyout isn't a long-term solution, it's a one-time fix that, if it was used as a policy, would be subject to abuse," said Department of Education spokeswoman Melody Meyer.

Officials have ruled out forcing principals to hire teachers from the pool - as was the case before the 2005 contract - because they say it wouldn't be fair to hold the administrators accountable for their schools' performance without giving them a full say on staffing.

Michael Mulgrew, chief operating officer for the United Federation of Teachers, said the city wasn't doing enough to connect the teachers to vacant positions.

"We're not calling for forced placements or anything of that nature, but there should be a process that is helping these teachers in a more active way," he said.

Sol Stern, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said the situation may worsen.

He said some teachers might not be looking for jobs hard enough, while others might be getting rejected from positions because they came with higher price tags.


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abuse463 wrote:
As a 30 year veteran, who is a satisfactority rated
teacher who has been without a permanent position for
the past 2 years, stop telling the PARTIAL STORY!
1. The reason that I have been without work has nothing to do with my efforts to find work. No principal is willing to pay for a veteran teacher who
earns top salary when they can get about 3 teachers for my salary. 2. The reason that I and others have been without work is because of the "wonderful" small
schools that everyone especially the Mayor and the
Chancellor have been raving about are being opened and the large high schools are being closed and the NYDOE is unable to absorb the personnel displaced from these schools.
3. If the DOE was truly concerned about placing the
ATR's then they wouldn't have hired 4250 new teachers
at $40,000 year salaries.

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