Thursday, March 26, 2009


Our main goal is to effect positive changes in our Union, the United Federation of Teachers, from the grassroots through information-sharing and direct actions. To reach that goal we need everybody to get involved at different levels. Everybody has to do something, e.g. invite colleagues on the listservs, and share our information with others via word-of-mouth or e-mail or by any means necessary. We sin by silence and fear. Our enemies can only hurt us if we are divided. They are using school closings and the rubber room as very effective tactics to get rid of veteran educators. However, together, we are a force to be reckoned with.

We have to evaluate what we do constantly and assess our impact. It is one thing to know we have rights but are we willing or have a burning desire to fight and defend those rights today? Before you enter your school building everyday, have at least one thing in mind to do to show that willingness or that burning desire. After you leave the school building everyday, ask yourself what was the one thing you did that contributed to the defense of our rights? Are you actively recruiting members for the listserv or not?

Our greatest imperfection in the grassroots is the idea of just sitting on the sidelines and complain. Get your feet wet by referring colleagues to the listserv so they may join. We are sharing with you information about perspectives and actions that you will not ever find in the official UFT Newspaper or Website. That means we are no longer at the mercy of the Union bureaucracy for information. That’s very empowering. You may share information on the listserv directly or send us your feedback privately just the same to or (for librarians to

Since we cannot expect the UFT bureaucracy to change, it is our responsibility to bring about the changes we would like to see in our Union. A good way to start taking this responsibility is through concrete actions, discussions, dialogue, and brainstorming. The time is now to shed the old and create or build the new. Let’s do it now!


Conference on NYC SCHOOL CLOSINGS – March 28, 2009)

To Teachers, Counselors, Other Affected UFT Personnel, and Allies:

This coming Saturday we have an opportunity to join with other educators in a forum dedicated to halting the destruction of public school education and our jobs. Creation of ATRs, the crowding of the Temporary Reassignment Centers, the closing of the large schools is part of a strategic plan with one purpose. This ‘purpose’ will be the focus of the Saturday forum.

Below is the flyer for the event. Hope to see you there.


March 28, Saturday
12 pm
John Jay College
Room 1311 North Hall Building
445 W 59th St. Manhattan A,C,D,B,1 trains to 59th street N,R,W trains to 57th street

Speakers & Strategy Brainstorming on:
o NYC School Closings Debacle
o A.T.R. Teacher Abuse
o High Stakes Testing Madness

For more info: 718-601-4901

After more than six years of mayoral control, hundreds of schools are labeled failing or near-failing, dozens are being closed as a matter of routine "reorganization", testing is taking over our classrooms, and more than a thousand teachers are being pushed out of the system, all without democratic input from parents, educators or the students they serve. A well-publicized program of rating schools with A-F grades based on standardized tests (drawing criticism from independent experts) means a bad grade can lead to the extinction of a school, leaving a staff with no guaranteed teaching positions.

New Yorkers involved in education are increasingly demanding an end to the school closings and high stakes testing madness while also demanding full-time teaching jobs for dislocated teachers (ATRs). In the past three months people have protested the announced phasing-out of their schools, demonstrated to defend ATR rights and fought to end high stakes testing. School staff, parents, and students have joined to condemn the destruction of school communities and educational programs they value. The targeted schools serve the most vulnerable working class communities and communities of color.

Look, no one wants to be part of a lousy school. This is our labor and our education, not a mad laboratory for free-market experiments. Schools can't be improved by remote control. Learning must be preparation for life, not for the next standardized test. Stop stripping away the resources we need for a rich school experience. No parent wants their child in a test prep factory where little real thinking is expected and children are treated as if they are "standardized." No one thinks it’s a good idea to force experienced educators out of the field because they cost too much. Give the parents, teachers and school communities a real voice. Give those who work in the schools the role of involvement in planning and decision-making that matters. Our experience in a school community should count for something. Let us finish what we start.
We are a group of new and veteran educators holding an issues-oriented conference and strategy conference. Speakers will provide an analysis of the interests that benefit from the standardized testing and school-reorganization juggernaut, while connecting the dots between the closing schools, ATR and testing issues. Discussion will take place in breakout sessions around how to create resistance.

* Independent Community of Educators – ICE/UFT
* New York Collective of Radical Educators – NYCORE
* Department of Latin American and Latina/o Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Endorsers: ATRs-School Closings Committee of ICE/UFT, Justice Not Just Tests (JNJT), Federacion de Maestros de Puerto Rico – Support Committee of NY, Teachers for a Just Contract - TJC/UFT, Teacher Advocacy Group NYC – TAGNYC, Teachers Unite, People Power Coalition, Center for Immigrant Families
Conference to Defend Public Education
STOP School Closings, ATR Abuse, & High Stakes Testing

Two important things happened today. A UFT delegate from the Bronx, and an ATR, has written a powerful support letter on ATRs to Mike Mendel, backing up our efforts for Monday. You can read it below.

Also today in the Daily News, reporter Meredith Kolodner has an important article on ATRS. It's entitled "Many Veteran Teachers Left Out in Cold for Sub Spots." According to this article, there are now 1,740 ATRs in the system. And so far a grand total of 16 teachers have been hired under the side agreement. Sixteen! She also makes the point that about 600 ATRs are not even eligible under the Side Agreement. The article is attached here.

Hats off to Meredith for her reporting, but why do we only find out about these astounding figures from the newspaper? The union has these figures, or has a way to get them, now that everything is linked to Galaxy. We need to renew our call for a moratorium on all new hiring till all ATRs who want positions get them.

Here is her letter:

Dear Michael,

I am writing to tell you how much I support the letter Marjorie Stamberg wrote you yesterday about the ATR situation.

The side agreement (discussed in her no. 5 below) never was a solution for ATRs like me at the time, who were excessed from their schools and remained on their schools' budgets.

All of the other points — and I probably could add more, like ATRs being formally observed, which violates both the intent and the procedures outlined in the current contract for those who are acting as daily subs or teaching out of license — are real and valid.

I want to say also that the ATR wine-and-cheese party cum discussion with Randi down at HQ which was scheduled expressly to conflict with the ATR march and rally at Tweed was in exceedingly bad taste. Randi's denying the ATRs and their advocates a proper event with her full support from beginning to end was tantamount to a slap in the face. We are dues-paying members and that should never have happened once she agreed to a rally in the first place.


March 19, 2009

TO: Michael Mendel UFT Secretary

Hi Michael,

As you may know, I have booked some time at the E-Board on March 23 for us to raise a number of concerns on the (lack of) implementation of the ATR Side Agreement. It’s been 4 months since the memorandum was signed, and what are the results? Our information is not comprehensive, certainly, but we have conducted surveys and talked with enough teachers to be concerned. Thus far we do not know of a single teacher who has been given an assignment based on this agreement.

Moreover, numerous schools, including a bunch of the big high schools are now on the chopping block and slated to close, either this June or next. This means ever more ATRs. And, as one teacher pointed out, since this is a "side agreement" to the existing contract, what happens in the next contract?

There are many specific concerns and questions. Briefly summarized, they involve

* Principals, district superintendents and other administrators who seem clueless (wilfully or otherwise) about hiring under the Side Agreement. (And why not, if they can continue having a teacher in school on Central's payroll?) The special subsidies don’t seem to have enticed many principals thus far.
* What regulations exist for the use of ATR teachers to fill permanent positions out of license, often with no training or PD for the positions they are filling? What about observations in these situations? No single answer ever surfaces about these detailed and critical questions.
* The contract defines an assigned position of 5 teaching periods, yet ATRs in this situation are now not able to grieve lack of appointment.
* In January the DOE sent out a detailed guide to principals to implementing the Side Agreement--the "Excessed Staff Selection System” (ESSS). This is helpful in that now there is a central list of ATRs by license area, linked to Galaxy, available to principals looking for teachers. The CSA had said they needed this, because principals didn't even know who the ATRs were, even if they wished to hire them.
* But the ESSS restates that neither the Side Agreement nor any subsidies apply to teachers who are ATRs in the schools where they were excessed from. Many teachers are in this category. What is being done to assist these teachers?
* The "Message from the Chancellor" on page 2 of the ESSS memo insists that principals have the sole right to hire whom they want and states the chancellor "would never want you to hire anyone for your school who you do not believe will make a positive contribution to student learning." Since virtually all ATRs are fully certified, experienced, S-rated teachers, what is the purpose of this language? It can only be read as giving the principals the "correct" language to reject ATR applicants, and not end up in court or on the carpet somewhere.
* If I understand the provisions of the ESSS correctly, teachers excessed this coming June will not be eligible for incentive subsidies until November of 2009, at which point the principal can hire them as provisionals – that is not give them permanent assignments. So they’re still ATRs at the mercy of the principal.
* The UFT has been assisting ATR teachers to make webcams and post resumes and videos on line. We have serious questions about age discrimination in the use of these videos as a job search tool.
* Now with excess staff lists linked to Galaxy, the UFT should be able to monitor how many ATRs have been given assignments, or not. We request that information be made available to union members.
* It is clear that as long as principals have the “sole right” to hire, they will manipulate any agreement. The only real solution to this question is to restore seniority transfer rights to the contract. That should be a central demand of the 2009 struggle.

In closing, may I remind you of our conversation at the end of the February Delegate Assembly? I asked you if several of us could come and speak with you about our questions. I repeated that Mike Mulgrew had told us that you are the UFT “point man” on these questions. You rudely said you wouldn’t meet with us, and we should “e-mail” any questions. So here is the e-mail.

In solidarity,

Marjorie Stamberg


Daily News Article from Marjorie
Principals passing downsized veteran teachers over for substitute teaching openings

BY Meredith Kolodner

Friday, March 20th 2009, 4:00 AM

Despite a deal aimed at getting principals to employ veteran teachers whose full-time slots were cut, most are still hiring from outside the system, according to Department of Education data.

The veteran teachers, who earn an average of $70,000, are currently working as subs, while the new teachers earn about $45,000.

Since November, when principals were offered cash incentives by the DOE to hire the subs, only 16 of them were added to school payrolls.

During the same time period, 295 brand-new teachers were hired into the system.

"It seems like it's still all about who you know," said Camille LoParrino, who became one of the subs after a reading program she worked with was canceled.

"I'm starting to get a little worried," said the 20-year veteran reading specialist, who said she has a good rating as a reading coach at the Globe School for Environmental Research in the Bronx.

The number of teachers whom the agreement had targeted jumped to 1,173 from 973, a 17% increase.

The overall pool, from which not all were eligible for the deal made between the teachers union and the city, grew to 1,740 from 1,711.

The DOE is spending more than $99.4 million to pay the salaries of the veteran teachers working as subs.

The city also is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars more for the roughly 320 other extra school employees, including secretaries and guidance counselors.

The pact let principals hire from the pool, with many teaching full time. The Education Department picked up the difference between a starting teacher's salary and the hired teacher's actual first-year pay.

That subsidy continues at a reduced amount for the next seven years. The school also gets a one-time bonus of about $22,500.

A DOE spokeswoman said it was too early to tell whether the incentive program was working.

"Principals do the bulk of their hiring during the summer months," said Ann Forte.

Most of the targeted teachers lost their jobs after enrollment at their schools dropped or their school closed.

United Federation of Teachers CEO Michael Mulgrew said budgets were limiting hiring.

"We will be asking where the hires have been made and whether they were in shortage areas or not," he said.

1 comment:

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