Thursday, September 25, 2008

Randi Weingarten and Joel Klein exchange letters on ATR's, Budget

September 24, 2008
Hon. Joel I. Klein
New York City Public Schools
Department of Education
52 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007

Dear Chancellor Klein:

The latest effects of the Wall Street lending crisis has left us all with a deep sense of
uncertainty and unease, but it also presents us with an opportunity to stand together for
the children of this city. With families across the five boroughs already struggling, it is all
the more imperative that we do all we can to insulate our students and their classrooms
from this economic crisis and ensure that every student has a strong, safe and stable
learning environment.

As we navigate through this crisis, tough decisions obviously need to be made. As is our
practice, we have some ideas and proposals on how we mitigate some of the challenges
ahead without adversely affecting the classroom. Creative thinking and smart choices
protected schools from cuts earlier this year, and I strongly believe that we can duplicate
that success now.

In the spirit of partnership and collaboration, we urge you to adopt and implement the
following three measures:

1. An immediate hiring freeze at the central Department of Education, and at the school
and district level for any license areas where there are people in excess and available for

2. A redeployment of teachers and other excessed personnel in the Absent Teacher
Reserve (ATR) into vacancies as they arise.

3. Develop a program to recertify excessed personnel in additional license areas, so they
are available to fill vacancies as they arise.

The first two measures should help the Department of Education recognize immediate
cost savings, and the third recommendation would be a valuable investment in personnel

We look forward to discussing these ideas and others in the days ahead.
Yours sincerely,

Randi Weingarten
Cc: Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler
Commissioner of Labor James F. Hanley
Deputy Chancellor Christopher Cerf

Klein responds
Dear Randi:

Thank you for your letter yesterday regarding the fiscal challenges facing the City and their impact on our schools.

I wholeheartedly agree that our priority should be to limit the impact of the budget reductions on classrooms and I welcome the opportunity to work with you and your team toward this end.

However, I want to reiterate that we will not alter our policy on forced placement of teachers. It makes sense to try to limit the significant and growing cost of unselected excessed teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve, but doing so by forcing these teachers into schools is not the answer. A return to this discredited practice, which harmed our schools for decades, would, once more, require schools to accept teachers regardless of whether principals and faculty believe they are the best candidates or good fits for positions.

At our announcement of the School-wide Performance Bonus awards last week, you and I both emphasized the critical need for teacher quality and effective collaboration among teachers and supervisors. You said, “We know, and I think there has become a real consensus in this City, that teacher quality and collaboration are real keys – pivotal keys – to turning around student achievement in schools.” Forced placement contradicts both of those goals. It would be far better to give excessed teachers a reasonable period of time to find a position before they are placed on unpaid leave. Such a policy would mitigate the cost while maintaining fairness and obviating the need for forced placement and all the negative repercussions a return to that system would bring.

I look forward to continuing our conversation on this critical issue and to receiving your input as we work to address our current budget situation.


Joel I. Klein



· Fact: Most Excessed Teachers Are Finding Jobs

o Only about 9% of the 2,742 teachers excessed in 2006 are still in excess. Well over 1,000 excesses – across all seniority levels –found regular teaching positions by applying for vacancies, interviewing with principals, and demonstrating that they were the best candidates for the positions. More than 14,000 positions across the city were filled since 2006.

o Of the 1418 teacher excessed in 2007, only 351 are still in excess after one year.

o Of the 2,039 teachers excessed in 2008, 758 are still in excess today.

· Fact: Excessed Teachers are Provided with Extensive Hiring Support

o The New Teacher Project provides excessed teachers with newsletters, workshops on resume writing and interviewing, one-on-one job-search assistance, bulletins with vacancy lists, job fairs across the City, and an on-line application system exclusively for excessed teachers.

o In the summer of 2008, TNTP sent bi-weekly newsletters to excessed staff with job fair information and job search tips, maintained a web site for excessed staff with job search tips, offered 15 skill-building workshops, answered 1,000 calls to a hotline set up for excessed teachers, and reached out by phone to excessed teachers who appeared to be inactive in their job searches.

· Fact: The Excessed Teacher Pool includes Junior and Senior Teachers, and Senior Excessed Teachers Have Been Hired at the Same Rate as Junior Teachers

o Excessed teachers who haven’t been hired are just as likely to be newer teachers as they are to be more experienced teachers.

Seniority of Excessed Teachers as of 9/5/2008

0 to 3 years 343 24.6%

4 to 6 years 245 17.6%

7 to 12 years 305 21.9%

13 to 19 years 262 18.8%

20+ years 240 17.2%

Total 1395 100.0%

o Excessed teachers across experience levels are equally likely to be hired to a position at another school:

· 35% of teachers excessed in 2006 with 0-3 years experience were hired by April 2008.

· 41% of teachers excessed in 2006 with 4-6 years experience were hired by April 2008.

· 47% of teachers excessed in 2006 with 7-12 years experience were hired by April 2008.

· 45% of teachers excessed in 2006 with 13-19 years experience were hired by April 2008.

· 38% of teachers excessed in 2006 with 20+ years experience were hired by April 2008.

o Another approximately 40% of excessed teachers are reabsorbed into the school from which they were excessed when positions opened up.

· Fact: The DOE Offers Schools a Subsidy for Hiring Senior Excessed Teachers

o The DOE pays the difference between a hired excessed teacher’s salary and a starting teacher’s salary (which could be as much as $55,000) for the first year, and half that difference for the second year, when a school hires a teacher who has been in excess for at least 6 months.

· Fact: Unselected Excessed Teachers Applied to Fewer Jobs

o Of the 235 unselected teachers excessed in 2006, about half did not apply for any teaching vacancies through the open market system, and they attended fewer hiring fairs.

o Of the 351 unselected teachers excessed in 2007, 62% did not apply for any teaching vacancies through the open market system in 2007 and 75% of these same teachers did not apply for any teaching vacancies through the open market system in 2008.

o Of the 758 unselected teachers excessed in 2008, half did not apply for any teaching vacancies through the open market system.

o During 2007 and 2008, more than 4,500 teachers were hired by schools through the open market system.

· Fact: Unselected Excessed Teachers Are More Likely to Have a History of Unsatisfactory Performance

o As of December 2007, nearly 15% of unselected excessed teachers had been rated unsatisfactory by their principal in the past 10 years, compared to only 5% of selected excessed teachers.

o As of December 2006, 20% of unselected excessed teachers with 13 or more years’ experience had prior unsatisfactory ratings compared with 7% of more junior teachers

o Excessed teachers who have been rated unsatisfactory by a principal at least once were hired at less than half the rate as excessed teachers who had never been rated unsatisfactory between December 2006 and September 2007.

o 7% of teachers excessed in 2008 who have not yet been hired by a school had previously been rated unsatisfactory, compared to 2% of teachers excessed in 2008 who have been hired.

o Approximately 1.8% of all teachers overall were rated unsatisfactory last school year.

· Fact: The Cost of Excessed Teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve for a Year or More is Substantial and Growing

o The cost in salaries and benefits for the 635 unselected teachers excessed in 2006 and 2007—who have been in the excess pool for a year or longer—could be as much as $60 million in this fiscal year.

No comments: