Saturday, September 27, 2008

Teachers on absent reserve -- the shame of our system

Recent news reports have focused on the fact that over 1,400 teachers are sitting in Absent Teacher Reserve – paid their regular salaries but assigned to no regular classroom duties. These teachers have been "excessed" through no fault of their own, but because their schools have been closed or restructured.

This represents an incredible waste of millions of dollars – not to mention manpower. See these stories: Budget Bind Turns Spotlight on Reserve Teacher Policy (NY Times) and Union, City Dig In Heels Over Fate of Reserve Teachers (NY Sun).

Meanwhile, our students continue to be crammed into the largest classes in the state and some of the largest in the country. I received the following letter from a retired teacher: why not offer these teachers to principals, free of charge, to reduce class size?

Dear Ms. Haimson,
Your group is to be commended for seeking to lower class sizes.

The Department of Education is missing a golden opportunity to do this. Why not take the 1,400 excessed teachers and use them to lower class size? This would make a lot of sense. Instead, these people are being used as day to day substitutes. These teachers, many of whom are teaching for 20+ years, did not get master's degrees and give the best years of their lives in education to be relegated to substitute status.

At first, the public was lied to by the city. The public was told that these teachers were incompetent. This is not true. These teachers received satisfactory ratings and were excessed due to the drop in student population. Next, the chancellor has the nerve to chide these people for not looking for positions. They did look. No principal would hire them since their teaching experience would allow for them to be at a higher salary.

This refusal to do anything for these affected pedagogues is a disgrace beyond belief.

I am a retired teacher. It was my pleasure to have worked with 3 such people at IS 228 in Brooklyn, the school I retired from in 2001. These teachers were excellent. They are caring individuals who were held in high esteem by their administrators, other teachers and students alike. Now, they face a completely hostile working environment. They are being treated in a totally unprofessional manner by people who either rarely or never taught.

Shame on the New York City school system and the newspapers for allowing this situation to continue.

Ed M. Greenspan, retired teacher, Brooklyn


NYC Educator said...

As I understand it, a lot of these teachers are actually on the DoE payroll but employed by various schools who have a major disincentive to hiring them--if they did, their salaries would come out of the school budget. Quite a few of these teachers are working regular jobs while retaining their status in perpetual purgatory.

And they're being used quite effectively as a publicity stunt by Mr. Klein and his dancing marionette Tim Daly.

It's simply unconscionable.

angelin said...

Most of these teachers are fine teachers who just had the misfortune to be working in schools when Klein came up with the bird brained idea to close blaming the schools for what was going on. Under civil service law, these teachers could not be simply fired. They have seniority. But any Principal, and most of the new Principals from the Leadership Academy don't have a clue anyway, would see they could hire 3 new rookie teachers on whom they could throw out their lack of supervisory ability over 1 teacher on maximum.


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Anonymous said...

I am not an ATR but used the "Open Market" this summer to try to find a new job. I am an ESL teacher with 12 years experience. I sent out over 30 resumes and did not get one response. I was able to get a new job through a contact I had made at a book-signing party. After I accepted the new position, it was listed on the "Open Market" as a vacancy. It's no wonder that many ATRs have not been placed. The contract should be amended so that if an ATR works in the same school more than a year, that employee becomes a permanent member of that school's staff.