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Preserving NYC transit history through words

June 2, 2014 pm30 3:17 pm

A little off-beat. I found an interesting bit of transit history in a funny place.

First, when New Yorkers say “car fare” – they mean subway fare or bus fare. Why?  The “car” is left over from “street car” or trolley. Brooklyn’s trolleys, the whole city’s trolleys are long gone, but they have left a linguistic trace.

Next, when the Grand Boulevard and Concourse was constructed in the Bronx, it ran from 161st Street north to Mosholu Parkway. It was opened in 1909, completed in 1914. OK, so? There is a subway station at 149th Street and the Grand Concourse, opened in 1904. And on the lower platform (2 and 5 trains), the station wall gives up a little history – where an enamel sign is missing, the wall tiles spell out Mott Ave, the original name of the street. The name “Grand Concourse” – but not the broad boulevard with service roads – was extended south over the former extent of Mott Avenue.

So we have words in a phrase, and words on a wall, preserving bits of history. What did I find?

A bus ticket.

bx41 ticket

More specifically, a receipt for the Bx41 Select Bus Service. Pay in a machine on the street (I used my metro card), and out pops a paper ticket. You get on the bus, off the bus, without bothering with the driver or the farebox. You’ve already paid. (Every once in a while an inspector gets on and asks for your ticket. I assume the fine is pretty big for fare-cheating. This system is more common in Europe.)

Anyhow, what does the ticket say that interests me?  It says “Direction: S/W”

Why is that curious?  Because the Bx41 is a north-south route. Up Melrose and Webster. Down Webster and Melrose. Why didn’t my ticket say “south”?

Tickets say N/E and S/W because the old paper transfers used to be divided that way. And why were there only two kinds of transfers? Why not four: north, west, south, and east? Because they were color-coded, blue or orange, and the TA kept things simple by only using two colors (faded blue transfer, N/E, below).  When metro cards came in, and two fare zones were eliminated, paper transfers were phased out. I don’t know what year they completely disappeared, but it was a while ago. Probably between 1997 and 2003.

(Actually, there was a third color, pink, used for General Orders. The token clerks called those “block transfers” and so did we. Was it because they let you walk around the block? or because they were issued when the line was blocked?  And was the Franklin Shuttle paper transfer a different color?  I wish I’d saved some of those.)

And couldn’t they drop the S/W and N/E business, now that they are just printing the letters on a slip of white paper?

Car fare’s car fare, who cares how they print it.

Chancellor Fariña: Problem Principals

May 30, 2014 pm31 12:13 pm

Things under de Blasio/Fariña will get better for the schools, students, and teachers of NYC. They might get a whole lot better. They certainly won’t get worse. But we’ve seen very little real change in the schools so far.

One of Bloomberg’s legacies is the hundreds of under-trained principals and assistant principals roaming our schools. There were several ways they came in, but the most notorious was Jack Welch’s “Leadership Academy.”

Administrators without real teaching experience often feared their knowledgeable subordinates. They felt threatened. They lashed out, and behaved badly.

Administrators who had not earned their position, but were placed there from above, had no loyalty to their schools, their colleagues, their communities. A principal oversees a school – but also should be responsible to that school. Not Bloomberg’s minions, who owed their authority only to Tweed, and acted like high commissioners, appointed from far away.

There have always been some lousy principals. There have always been some mean principals. But their numbers exploded under Bloomberg’s management system.

The too large group of principals who are incompetent, and the too large group of principals who are abusive, these two groups largely overlap.

Fariña and de Blasio have recognized there is a problem. Back in February, Fariña, in one of her few acts that drew my attention, changed the requirement for new principals, so that from now on only educators with real experience could become school leaders. Principals will need 7 years experience, and APs will need 5.

But what about the mugs who are in the schools today?  Teachers face abuse in some schools on a daily basis. Schools with incompetent leadership often have schedule changes multiple times each term… often have kids programmed for the wrong classes… often have bizarre, and non-contractual time schedules…. often find ways to fake items on kids’ transcripts to cover mistakes the school made. And the more these guys screw up, the harder they come down on their teachers.

Some of our schools have absurd turn-over rates, as teachers rush to get out, to go anywhere. Often, unfortunately, the available openings are in schools with the same sorts of principals.

And if one of these guys now has seven years experience?  If it’s seven years experience getting everything wrong, it should not count.

The question becomes, how will Fariña handle the abusive and incompetent principals? There are several hundred, and they are a blight on the system and a plague on our members.

As New Action, my caucus, advocates, we should work with Fariña to identify the problems. We should warn members to stay away from career-ruiners.

We should expect de Blasio and Fariña to move more swiftly in many areas. But this one is crucial. They are trying our good will every day these horrors and incompetents stay in place. The removals need to start.



Politicizing the Trapezoid

May 26, 2014 am31 10:30 am

The trapezoid, is the homeliest of our special quadrilaterals. And it has just been redefined by the Common Core’s David Coleman.

Children will be tested, using definitions that are different from what is in their books

For about two hundred years, when American teachers taught about trapezoids, they were teaching about a figure with four sides, two of which were parallel, and two of which weren’t.

Last year, only the figure on the left was a trapezoid. Now, they both are.

We call that a “non-inclusive” definition, because it doesn’t include the special case when both pairs or sides are parallel (a parallelogram). Readers who are less familiar with math may have encountered the inclusive vs non-inclusive debate when considering squares:  are they special rectangles? or are they something of their own kind?  Math people say squares are rectangles (special ones), the inclusive definition.  Rectangles have four right angles (that fits a square). Rectangles have both pairs of opposite sides equal (that fits a square). We can ask: “Are there four right angles?” If the answer is yes, we say “Rectangle!” – we don’t say, “well might be a rectangle. Let’s first make sure it’s not a square.”  And if we like the inclusive definition for rectangles, why not for trapezoids?

There are conventions in mathematics. Agreements that we have made, that we stick to. We should be aware when something is conventional (electrons flow from the negative terminal) (north is at the top of the map) (x is left right and y is up down) (we use an inclusive definition of rectangle, but an exclusive definition of trapezoid) versus a decision we make with a mathematical reason (1 is not prime is a good example). And we should talk about conventions, with each other, with the public, with our students.

I am not arguing that the change is wrong. I’m saying that change without warning, with no discussion is wrong. And I’m saying that the person making the change should not be a vendor, should not be David Coleman.

We stuck with 200 years of the non-inclusive definition. It is worth changing. But that requires changing every major textbook (geometry, but also many middle school books. It shows up sometimes in algebra too. It’s a lot of books…)  It requires a national discussion. Teachers need to know, need to think about it. Teachers need to realize that the really neat figure called an “isosceles trapezoid” needs a brand new name, if we even think it is worth talking about. And honestly, this discussion is worth having. The change is worth making.

But the change happened with no discussion. Common Core’s testing left arm, PARCC, redefined trapezoid. Without permission. Without telling anyone. Without talking to teachers. Without initiating discussion. Without changing textbooks. Without even giving an opportunity for any of these things to happen. Children will be tested, using definitions that are different from what is in their books, different from what their teachers taught them this year, and every year previously.

When we overtest kids, there are players who can object (parents, kids, teachers, even principals and superintendents). When we cut funding, there are players who will object. When we close schools, there are players who can object. But who stands up when a vendor screws around with a mathematical definition?

Do math teachers have organizations?  Well, yeah, but…  The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) was so ed-reformy that I lapsed my membership over a decade ago and never looked back. The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and American Mathematical Society (AMS) are for professors and graduate students, not teachers (I should rejoin MAA, they have a journal that I find accessible, and I like the challenge, and I prefer paying the member price for their books). There is a NYC group, but they hold one conference a year, and put out one journal, and nothing else as far as I can tell. The UFT group has some nice people, but not in my area of interest (if you are interested, they did and probably still do some very nice art/math combination stuff).

But I have long maintained connections with the New York State group: The Association of Mathematics Teachers of New York State (AMTNYS). And they are an active group. They have direct connections to the New York State Education Department. They have sometimes campaigned to change rules about calculators, dates for exams. Here, in New York, if there is a place for math teachers to go, it is AMTNYS. Because of this, their listserves, especially their high school level listserve, buzzes when the state screws up a regents exam or a schedule or a new ruling or a roll out. One of AMTNYS stated purposes is “To serve as liaison between the State Education Department and the field.”  This sometimes means communicating SED decisions to us, sometimes conveying our concerns to SED, sometimes organizing teacher voices for or against a change, and sometimes seeking clarification on behalf of their members.

Here is an AMTNYS listserve discussion from last year on the new definition of trapezoid. And here’s one from this year.

In this case, a vendor was imposing a change in definition with little warning, and no discussion. Teachers haven’t heard about it (the majority probably still haven’t), textbooks aren’t updated. And the decision was made implicitly, by accepting a test, not by people responsible to the public. AMTNYS should have worked to stop SED. Instead, they told teachers about the new definition. AMTNYS’ leaders can claim they are not an advocacy organization. But when they accept the new testing regimen without complaint, education reform, including in mathematics, without complaint, new curricula without complaint, changes made to a mathematical definition by a vendor, without complaint, and in fact transmit each of those to mathematics teachers – they are in fact adding their weight to the direction of change advocated by the Ed Reformers in Albany, they are advocating, and they are advocating against teachers and against students. I am disappointed.

Of all the bad things ed reform is doing and has done, changing a definition without discussion is not high on the list. And, in this case, its not that Coleman is out to screw kids (he is, but does he care about trapezoids?  He has millions of children who he treats with disregard, what’s a silly shape to him?)  It’s not that John King and Andrew Cuomo were out to get kids to get one more question wrong (they don’t care). It’s not that Barack Obama and Arne Duncan, when they pushed Common Core on the states thought about ways to change one definition. And it’s not that AMTNYS’ leadership is so badly compromised by needing to be friendly with powerless state bureaucrats that they forgot to speak up.

No, it’s just one more, small, bizarre episode: Common Core redefines Trapezoid.


Where my niece got her non-commutative model of multiplication

May 24, 2014 pm31 10:15 pm

Way back last fall, I played math with my niece and nephew, and wrote about it.

Along the way, a curious thing happened.  My niece saw a 6×2 rectangle, horizontally oriented, and wrote 6 x 2 next to it, and saw the same size rectangle, vertically oriented, and wrote 6 x 2, then crossed it out to write 2 x 6 (my sister-in-law thought to “correct” her, but I asked to leave it alone).

Last week I went to my niece’s school, where she goes as a 3rd grader, and where I went as a 3rd grader, in a city 70 miles from New York. I visited math classes at several grade levels. And here is what I found in a second grade class:


I also found a woman who was friends with my nursery school teacher’s daughter. And I learned that my teacher is still alive and kicking. I’m going to dig out some old photos and pay her a visit. And thank her.

If the contract is not ratified…

May 24, 2014 am31 7:19 am

Probably the contract will be ratified. Across the city, teachers, while not enthusiastic about the money or the language, are relieved to be getting something. Now, if it were just the Bronx high schools voting, it would fail, 2:1 or even 3:1, but that’s the high schools, and the Bronx. How can we really know what happened across the City?  With the rush, and the $1000 signing bonus, and little time for teachers to talk to each other and ask questions, I think it’ll pass. But if I had to guess I’d say this contract passes with an unenthusiastic 70% or so. Compare the TWU, who just ratified by 83%, or the 90% for the last UFT contract. I don’t expect it as tight as the 2005 UFT contract, which was approved by just 60% of teachers and 63% overall. (You can imagine Bronx HS numbers that time!)  But I don’t know.

But what if somehow there are more no voters, and the thing fails. The UFT leadership will go back to the negotiating table. We will be first in line (ignore the rhetoric – I think it’s clear we go first). What do we want our leaders to change?

Some might be tempted to ask that every aspect be renegotiated. But imagine a contract defeat. Maybe 45% yes – 55% no. Both the UFT negotiators and the City will want to quickly come back with an agreement that does just enough to get the thing passed, which means, just enough to get 6% to switch. (Actually, they will shoot higher, since they would want a slightly safer cushion.) That speaks to one or two changes. What would you want them to change?

1. Health Care. Take it out of the agreement. Might cost money on wages. Probably can’t be done while improving wages. Making health savings a material part of the contract, and giving an outsider the right to determine if we are in breach, and another the right to mandate changes – this is an astounding error. It should be removed.

2. ATRs. People who are ATRs (few of us), were ATRs (more of us), have former colleagues who are ATRs (many more of us), etc, get nervous when their status is changed. Changing the 3020a process, even for a small number of teachers, raises fears. Read Lynne Winderbaum’s moving appeal. I don’t care how benign the intent was, that’s enough to say, let’s get rid of that language. There is nothing that stops the DoE from bringing charges, we know that, we see that. This wasn’t necessary, and it scares the hell out of some people. Plus, you know, unions, sticking together, all for one – the kinds of ideas that say separate provisions for separate groups, especially a targeted group, are just plain wrong. Get rid of the expedited 3020a.

Then two changes that do not need to be negotiated. These are wrongs committed the first time around by the union leadership. And the union leadership can (theoretically) address these (if a second ratification vote is needed).

3. No rushing us. Give members time to read, ask questions, discuss. The question “Why the Rush?” has no good answer, unless you think that ‘giving people time to discuss would have made ratification less likely’ is a good answer. You should not. Publishing the details of the Lump Sum Payments from the 2009-2011 Round, and the MoA language on Health Care (care to guess why that is in the Wages section?) on the Friday before the ballots went out is just bad practice. If your agreement cannot withstand serious scrutiny, you should not bring it to us.

4. No selling. Some people in the schools were annoyed when they learned that the immediate raise from this deal would be 2%. The leadership sold this as 4 and 4. But some people were angry when they realized that they’d been sold a line. Same mix of reactions when people realized that the “retro” had not yet been earned, or that there was no interest. Of course the special reps in the schools are individuals – but some were heavy spinners, others clearly did not understand what they were saying. That’s just not the right way to treat members. One man’s selling or spinning is another man’s misleading or misdirecting. There are people who are still voting yes, but are feeling distrusted by the leaders because of this behavior. But this is tough. This leadership spins every mistake they have ever made. Could they actually stop long enough to provide members accurate information?

The perils of the ATR

May 20, 2014 am31 6:25 am

by Lynne Winderbaum, retired ESL teacher, JFK HS, and former Bronx High School UFT District Rep

For the greater part of the 44 years that I have been a member of the UFT teachers truly believed that an assault against one of us was an assault against all of us. The idea of union was that if we all held together, we could accomplish what we never would be able to as individuals. There was one job title of teacher and we all enjoyed the same rights. I am puzzled now, or maybe just too old and nostalgic to understand, how under our most recent agreement, a certain category of teachers has been singled out for disparate treatment. The teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve have required more protection, not less. Their job security and their outlook have been shaken to the core by the fact that they are no longer appointed to a school.

When the wholesale closing of traditional high schools began under the Bloomberg administration, the borough hardest hit (and most embracing of small school creation to replace them) was the Bronx. Morris, Monroe, Taft, Roosevelt, Walton, New School, Evander Childs, Stevenson, and soon Kennedy and Columbus, shuttered. Veteran teachers were displaced not through any fault of their own, but as collateral damage in the effort to show that a reform was underway that would benefit students. Well, no such benefits have been the result and the loss of the large high schools has been an irreversible destruction. Graduation rates inflated by bogus “credit recovery”schemes (Education critics blast high school credit recovery – NY Daily News)  (Students earning credit with dubious make up work – NY Post) , changing of IEPs, waivers on providing special education and English Language Learner services, screening of students, and closing of many of the replacement small schools that were supposed to provide better instruction. (The New Marketplace: Executive Summary – The New School, Milano Institute of International Affairs, Center for New York Affairs)

In the final year of these closing ghost schools, the last students going down with the ship were often underserved as the Department of Education staffed them with a handful of remaining teachers to teach the last seniors. The city abandoned these students. But there was always a cadre of teachers in each school that refused to turn their backs them. These were usually veteran teachers, nearing retirement, who told me they felt an obligation to the students in a dire situation and would not leave for another school and make matters worse for them. When the doors finally closed, these dedicated teachers were in excess.

At a staff meeting of the UFT I rose to point out that this category of excessed teacher created by the massive school closings were unlike any other prior group of excessed teachers. For years “last in, first out” (LIFO) put in excess the most junior teachers in license on a staff that had a contraction of positions. So teachers who had one or two years of service were at risk. But the excessed pool now included hundreds of teachers with 20-30 years of satisfactory classroom service who had dedicated their entire professional lives to the students of New York City. This was new.

Since 2005, when the category of Absent Teacher Reserve was created, teachers in the ATR have always had a sense of uneasiness. I cannot recall a single school visit when an ATR teacher did not approach me and ask if the union would protect them. Will the next contract let us be fired? I always assured them that the UFT would stand by them. And that the ATR category was created to give them job protection. ATR’s could not be fired without the same due process as every other teacher in the system.

At the same time I recall when Joel Klein, former chancellor of New York City schools, returned from a trip to Chicago. He learned there that the Chicago school system resolved their teacher displacement problem from school closings by firing excessed teachers who could not find a new teaching position within twelve months. “For years, Chancellor Joel Klein has trumpeted Chicago’s method of laying off teachers, which gives out-of-work teachers a year to remain on salary and find a new job in the schools. Klein’s new list of demands would shrink that window to four months.” (Among City’s Contract Demands: Flexibility to Lay Off Teachers - Chalkbeat)

But in order to make such a move palatable, the teachers in the ATR had to be vilified and portrayed in the media as unemployable losers who could not find jobs and were a drain on the budget of the Department of Education and the taxpayers. And how the city officials threw themselves into that campaign! Joel Klein wrote, “We’d also be forced to keep teachers in what’s called the “Absent Teacher Reserve”pool—a bureaucratic name for those let go from downsizing or closing schools but who remain on payroll. Many of these teachers haven’t applied for new jobs despite losing their positions as long as two years ago. And many who have looked for a job can’t find a school willing to hire them despite many vacancies. Yet none of these teachers can be laid off, even during a budget crisis.” (We’re firing the wrong teachers – Joel Klein)

Steven Brill, wrote in his book “Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America’s Schools”. “These were the teachers who were excessed but had not taken positions elsewhere. Some hadn’t even gone on job interviews…the prospect loomed that they would continue to be paid even if the city had to dismiss thousands of real teachers because of the budget crunch.”p. 129

Of course nothing could be further from the truth. I remember the day that Randi Weingarten, then president of the UFT, put out a call to the district representatives to counter such arguments by bringing a group of ATRs to a press conference. I went to Evander Childs HS and gathered a group of about a dozen from the library and brought them downtown from the Bronx to tell tales of the many online applications sent through the Department of Education website, the many resumes they sent out to principals, and the interviews they went on, all to no avail. None had ever received an unsatisfactory rating. But they were tenured, older, expensive, and they were turned down in favor of fresh new hires, many on probation. They were losing hope and to add insult to injury, they were being painted with the insulting brush of pundits like Brill. Eventually, even Brill saw the superficiality of his opinion in 2011 and reversed course. (Teaching with the enemy – The New York Times)

But the drumbeat did not stop. Even now, the New York Post writes, “Ineffective teachers from the Absent Teacher Reserve are headed back into the classroom.”And the New York Daily News warns “The mayor must hold firm [against forcing principals to hire ATRs]. Otherwise, he would dump teachers of poor quality on unlucky students and schools (Expel these teachers – NY Daily News)

So they insist that the 2/3 of the ATR pool who have never been accused of wrongdoing or had unsatisfactory performances be characterized as “poor quality”and “ineffective”and worthy of firing. The truth is that the Department of Education has never made a secret of its desire to fire the ATRs. It’s been raised in every contract negotiation. But the union has up to now provided protection for this group because they are valuable teachers and members whose predicament was created entirely by the Department of Education. As a 31 year veteran teacher from Kennedy High School, a school not slated for closing for many years as other Bronx high schools met their demise, I often thought “There but for the grace of God go I”.

The UFT not only saw that displaced teachers were not fired, we reached agreement with the Department of Education that they could only be moved once a semester. This gave them stability for at least half the school year. It was humane. Many got regular assignments saving the city money on hiring long term substitute teachers for teachers on leaves for child care or health issues. (Although the city and the press still just multiply the number of ATR’s by their salaries and calculate that as a drain on the city’s resources without deducting the savings). ATRs were also serving as per diem substitutes for daily absentee teachers. Another savings. A survey we were asked to do by the union in 2009 showed that hundreds of ATRs were serving in this capacity—not sitting around idly doing nothing and collecting salaries.

Recently, this all changed for the ATR pool. They are now shuffled around week to week, from school to school. They are observed teaching students they do not know while covering classes out of license. It is not only a recipe for wasting talent if there ever was one but a sure path to thinning the ATR pool. “Until recently, the city allowed ATR teachers to remain at a posting for a full school term, during which the school principal could decide whether to hire them. That changed with the weekly reassignments, which went into effect in October as part of a deal with the United Federation of Teachers to avert layoffs.” (City’s Unwanted Teachers Drift Through a Life in Limbo – DNA Info)

This brings us to the new contract and it’s agreement regarding this maligned and vulnerable group of teachers.

The city has been looking for a way to fire this teachers since before Klein’s Chicago jaunt. The Memorandum of Agreement now under consideration makes this much easier. It streamlines the process for ridding the city of the ATRs. It proposes a separate and unequal disciplinary system that will end the career of an ATR in a way that cannot happen to an appointed teacher.

Memorandum of Agreement:

If a principal removes an ATR from an assignment to a vacancy in his/her license area because of problematic behavior as described below and the ATR is provided with a signed writing by a supervisor describing the problematic behavior, this writing can be introduced at an expedited §3020-a hearing for ATRs who have completed their probationary periods

            The term “problematic behavior”is unacceptably vague. What is it? It can’t rise to the level of a violation of Chancellor’s regulations because that has always allowed for removal. In instances of language belittling or causing emotional distress, corporal punishment, misappropriation of funds, excessive absence and/or lateness or any other clearly defined violations under the Chancellor’s regulations, teachers could be removed and charged. Two years of unsatisfactory ratings could lead to removal and charges.

So “problematic behavior”must fall into a category of actions beneath these violations. Let me give you four examples that I have heard from ATRs: Leaving four minutes early on a staff development day after receiving a phone call about a son’s medical emergency, scolding in front of students for not wearing a tie, dozing off in the teachers’lounge on a day when he was given no assignment or classes to cover, making a statement in the classroom that sounded like religious proselytizing. One might concede that these actions are “problematic”but they never would have led to more than a file letter in the past! Now, they can rise to the level of such severity that the career of the beleaguered ATR can be ended forever. Who will decide what’s “problematic”? The panel of arbitrators whose standard we agree is a mystery at the moment? The two consecutive principals who may have marked certain teachers for discipline possibly because they spoke up when they were given five classes in a row to teach, or reported a special ed violation, or cheating on a Regents? Or maybe they just seemed too confrontational or not compliant enough? Or maybe didn’t wear a tie! Without clearly defining “problematic”behavior, we have provided a roadmap for showing the door to ATR’s.

I have read that the ATR’s cannot “automatically”be fired. They would feel more secure without the modifier. The grounds for their removal and ultimate firing are far different from those required of regular appointed teachers. Do we have the right to create a new and lesser category within our own family?

The speed with which an ATR can be dispatched is breathtaking. No regular appointed teacher could be pushed out the door with such haste. There is due process and then there is what the MOA calls the“exclusive”due process for ATRs. The union should stand behind one 3020a process for all its teachers.


If, within a school year or consecutively across school years, an ATR has been removed from a temporary provisional assignment to a vacancy in his/her license area by two different principals because of asserted problematic behavior, a neutral arbitrator from a panel of arbitrators jointly selected for this purpose (the panel presently consisting of Martin F. Scheinman, Howard Edelman and Mark Grossman) shall convene a 3020-a hearing as soon as possible Based on the written documentation described above and such other documentary and/or witness evidence as the employer or the respondent may submit, the hearing officer shall determine whether the ATR has demonstrated a pattern of problematic behavior. For purposes of this program, problematic behavior means behavior that is inconsistent with the expectations established for professionals working in schools and a pattern of problematic behavior means two or more instances in a vacancy in the ATRs license area of problematic behavior within a school year or consecutively across school years. Hearings under this provision shall not exceed one full day absent a showing of good cause and the hearing officer shall convene a §3020-a hearing as soon as possible.

 The parties agree that in order to accomplish the purpose of establishing an expedited §3020-a process, the following shall serve as the exclusive process for §3020-a hearings for ATRs that have been charged based on a pattern of problematic behavior in accordance with this agreement.

  • The ATR shall have ten (10) school days to request a hearing upon receipt of the §3020-a charges;
  • At the same time as the ATR is charged, the Board (DOE) will notify the UFT as to where the ATR is assigned at the time charges are served;
  • The employer shall provide the Respondent all evidence to be used in the hearing no more than five (5) school days after the employer receives the Respondentrequest for a hearing;
  • Within five (5) school days of receipt of the employerevidence, the Respondent shall provide the employer with any evidence the Respondent knows at that time will be used in the hearing;
  • The hearing shall be scheduled within five to ten (5-10) school days after the exchange of evidence is complete;
  • The hearing time shall be allocated evenly between the parties, with time used for opening statements, closing statements and cross-examination allocated to party doing the opening statement, closing statement or cross-examination and with time for breaks allocated to the party requesting the break;
  • The hearing officer shall issue a decision within 15 days of the hearing date.

For the purposes of charges based upon a pattern of problematic behavior under this section only, if the DOE proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the ATR has demonstrated a pattern of problematic behavior the hearing officer shall impose a penalty under the just cause standard up to and including discharge

            I know many ATRs because the displacement of veteran high school teachers has been so great. It is a problem of the Department of Education’s own making. From the dumping of these teachers into a special pool, to the changing of their assignments every semester, to their bouncing from school to school every week, to the special and unique expedited 3020a hearing that adheres to a timetable that no other teacher must be suffer, these life-long teachers have been beaten down.

They have been mandated to apply for jobs online, mandated to attend interviews, and mandated to accept assignments for years. But many are never offered jobs because principals prefer to hire probationary teachers that can be fired at will. I served on many hiring committees for new schools every June. They were looking to staff their entire schools. There was a constant parade of new, uncertified teaching fellows getting hired to the exclusion of the veterans who interviewed.

The unsettling feeling I have now is that the worst fears that the ATRs shared with me all of those years have been realized.



The phrase “Retroactive Payment” is not in the MoA

May 19, 2014 pm31 6:30 pm

Instead, what we have been calling retro appears as:

Lump Sum Payments stemming from the 2009-2011 Round and schedule for actives for those continuously employed as of the day of payout.

This is the title of one section of the Memorandum of Agreement (with the payment schedule below). And in the entire MoA, there is not another word about retroactive payments for in-service members. For most of us, there will be no difference between retroactive raises on the one hand, and a “2009-2011 Round” on the other.

But there are details in the agreement which are worth pointing out. We did not earn this money, according to the agreement, in 2009, 2010, and 2011. We will earn it when have been continuously employed as of each payout date (and once we retire, the payments are locked in).

What difference does it make if we earned it in 2010, or we earn it in 2015, if the first payout is in 2015 anyway? The difference is for those who do not receive any payout at all.

  • People who have quit, or will quit before 2015. They may have worked in 2009, but they did not earn retro.
  • People who quit between 2015 and 2020. They will have worked for a chunk of time that retro was theoretically accumulating, but they will only receive 12.5% or 25% or…
  • People who are discontinued, or will be discontinued before 2015. They may have worked in 2009, but they did not earn retro.
  • People who will be discontinued between 2015 and 2020. They will have worked for a chunk of time that retro was theoretically accumulating, but they will only receive 12.5% or 25% or…

Not every discontinuance is undeserved. We know that. But in the age of Bloomberg, hundreds of teachers were unfairly discontinued each year. We expect this number will fall under de Blasio and Fariña, but we don’t know. It hasn’t happened yet. And we worry because the new administration has been slow to make its presence felt in the school system.

The word “continuous” raises questions. I do not know the answers, but will ask:

  • People who leave now, and retire later (eg, you reach 30 years and you are only 53. Stop working now, but retire in two years. Have you been continuously employed?)
  • People who take childcare leave for a year (do they get all the payments up to that point? All the payments?  All the payments except the one due when they are out?)
  • People who take childcare leave for more than one year
  • People who take a leave for personal reasons, and return a year later (do they get all the payments, or none?)
  • People who take a leave for personal reasons, and return a year later, and that leave includes one of the payout dates (do they get all the payments, all but the one when they are on leave, or none?)
  • People who are brought up on charges (often now they agree to a lesser charge of wrongdoing and pay a small fine – will the DoE start exacting a ‘break in service?’



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