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Open Market Transfers and Older Teachers

August 30, 2006 pm31 1:18 pm

Chaz comments here:

…I suspect you will find some discrimination of the older teacher. I hope the union pushes DOE in showing them the statistics.

Age discrimination is a real issue. So it’s hard to disagree, but what would the statistics show us?

Under seniority transfers, we could check seniority. There really wasn’t much wiggle room. Under SBO transfers the job should have gone to the senior qualified applicant (not most senior, not most qualified, but the most senior of the pool of qualified applicants). There was an appeals/review process that members availed themselves of.

But those transfer systems were ended by the last contract.
But under the Open Market Plan (damn, I hate that name. Sounds like a scheme to privatize pensions or sell off the post office) there is no review process. There is no seniority component to the hiring.

I’m over 40 and I apply to your school and I am not hired. Was there discrimination? Of course there is no way to know. I am one person. There is no individual rule broken, there is no pattern.

I apply to six schools and am not hired. Discrimination? We should argue yes, but I think not. The principals do not come together to make their decisions.


Now, if one principal systematically rejected older candidates… but who would know? who would report it? There are not numbers to be had. Age discrimination could run wild, and we would have one hell of a time showing that it had taken place.

Anecdotally, Open Market Transfers have been bad for our senior members. But the only UFTers who could generate the data we need would be those with access to the work of the hiring committees (where they even were formed). We would need a list of candidates (or at least their ages) and the name or age of the candidate selected, for every vacancy that was in the school.

A related source of frustration is the DoE’s way of budgeting for teachers. Each school is charged for teacher and allocated for teacher based on the average teacher salary in the school. How many principals misinterpret this and think that they will lose budget if they hire senior teachers?

If we were tracking U-ratings, the union has access to those numbers, and names, and could make a case of age discrimination. In fact, that is exactly what we are (were?) doing. Here is a NYT article about an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint the UFT filed against the Department of Education 10 months ago for:

“discriminatory use of the disciplinary system” and a “discriminatory pattern and practice of coercing, threatening and harassing teachers over 40 years of age to ‘encourage’ those teachers to leave their assigned schools.”

And we have numbers. The complaint states that 571 of 729 tenured teachers who received U’s in 2004 – 05 were over 40. (If anyone can find a link to the NY Teacher article covering this, please let me know).

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2006 am30 4:11 am 4:11 am

    Jonathan:

    This is part of the union mandate to protect their members. Granted, there would need to be much digging. However, wouldn’t it be easy to find the ages of the teachers hired under the open market system? Further, couldn’t the union send a simple questionnare to all teachers to see if they participated in the open transfer market? What are we paying dues for?

  2. September 1, 2006 am30 5:47 am 5:47 am

    “wouldn’t it be easy to find the ages of the teachers hired under the open market system?”

    No, I don’t think so. There is not a central registry. At the end of each SBO transfer season we had to send in a form, but not now.

    You know that I am biased against questionnaires, but in this case they just wouldn’t work. We would have no idea how many were not returned but should have been. We would not know the age of the transferers, and we would not know how many jobs went to teachers who were just entering the system. We would get, at best, an iffy answer, and for this sort of work iffy answers are not acceptable.

    I reject the question “what are we paying dues for?” as it will be the central question of a decertification drive, if we ever face one. It is in and of itself an anti-union question.

    The best we could do (my guess) is send a questionnaire to each chapter. At least when we got partial results, we would know which schools were not being counted.

    The fault here is the open market system itself. We accepted a system in our last contract which gave principals a lot of flexibility. In return we put our members in a position where they could be discriminated against, and we also gave up the ability to easily track what was going on.

    Bad move. Bad contract.

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