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Union fights for teaching fellows facing ax

November 11, 2008 am30 3:58 am
The UFT has filed a grievance on behalf of approximately 130 teaching fellows who face termination on Dec. 5 because they have no full-time teaching assignments.

The union-initiated grievance maintains that the teaching fellows hired in September are being improperly terminated in violation of the collective-bargaining agreement and that the DOE “contract” that teaching fellows were required to sign does not supercede the UFT contract.

Like the excessed educators in the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool, the unassigned fellows are serving in schools throughout the city as full-time substitutes.

The DOE hiring agreement specifies that the newly hired teaching fellows who are not selected by a school by August 28, 2008, will be assigned to the Teachers Reserve Pool and will receive the salary and benefits of a full-time substitute.

The DOE hiring agreement that new fellows were required to sign further states: “If you are unable to secure a regular, full-time position by December 5, 2008, your employment will be terminated as of that date.” The UFT contends in its grievance that such a move by the DOE would constitute a layoff, which is not allowed under the UFT/DOE collective-bargaining agreement unless the city declares an official financial emergency, which it has not.

The teaching fellows facing termination are part of the group of 1,500 aspiring teachers fresh out of colleges and universities or seeking career changes who were courted by the DOE for its alternative certification program. The fellows come from across the United States to teach in the city’s public schools. The DOE selected the 2008 fellows as the best qualified from among 19,012 applicants in a process they describe as “highly selective.”

Despite that encouraging recommendation from the DOE itself, some of the selected fellows are still scrambling for positions.

Even with the growing number of excessed teachers without permanent placements in the school system, the DOE continues to recruit new candidates for the 2009-2010 school year.
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. jack israel permalink
    November 15, 2008 pm30 9:29 pm 9:29 pm

    Mayoral Control of the schools “One must either resist or, in varying degrees, collaborate.

    “…They were days when my enemies ate and slept and prospered and advanced their goals, while I did nothing, and in nothing I aided them, for that is how it is when faced with evil men. (Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein in our case). One must either resist or, in varying degrees, collaborate. ”

    David Liss the Whisky Rebels

    After reading the troubling Daily News editorial strongly supporting the continuation of the mayor’s control of our schools, this particular passage seems to be very relevant indeed to my fellow UFT members. The Comedian Joel Klein and his suited minions spin the statistics (as cited in the Daily News Op Ed.) in their never ending public relations thrusts that have little to do with what is good for students, teachers or parents. These DOE spins are nothing less in my view than self-serving and and even perhaps criminal. For example, does anyone ever wonder why regents’ exams are graded in the same schools that they are administered in? (wink, wink). We (the UFT) must put forth an effort to stop Klein, or we aide him, it is that simple in my mind.

    I point to as an example, the fact that a truly excellent and legendary “large” school, De Witt Clinton is attacked and maligned by the comedian Klein by being labeled a “C” school. While Clinton received 2 “B” ratings along with one “C” in the confusing rating system, it still received an overall “C” rating. Even though evidently, Clinton barely missed receiving an overall “B”, the school now will be subjected to a costly “quality review.” More suits, more pressure, more wasting of money during a financial crisis. I sincerely believe this rating to be just another element of a coordinated attempt to undermine the union. This “C” rating, the second in a row for Clinton puts the veteran teachers of this large school in jeopardy of ultimately becoming ATRs regardless of their ability or outstanding records of success. It also puts unfair pressure on the administration of a school, stress that stress filters down to the teachers, and students. In fact upon learning of the rating, my students were filled with rumors of the schools eventual demise. How is that good for anyone?

    Teaching is clearly an art not an exact science. Like any art-form, teaching and schools in general cannot and should not be simply graded using a letter system. In fact this system is degrading, costly and demoralizing to teachers, students, parents and administrators, and is not indicative of anything valuable.

    Still, many people ask me what is the UFT is doing to fight back??? We the teachers are the heart and soul of the union in my view. What can we do?? We must attend chapter meetings, protest marches and demonstrations and write to the newspapers, and our union leaders stating our valid case. We worked hard to elect Obama, we must now lobby him for his support, and we (the UFT) must inform him of the realities of education in NYC. UFT members must also be very aware that any small salary increases in future contracts cannot be traded for job security. The no-layoff policy written into our last contract was a important victory won by the UFT. However, I was an ATR for a month after Walton H.S. was phased out; it was demeaning, humiliating and a waste of a person who has a strong desire to teach. We have to fight, as a union, to stop this trend. . Because, as Mr. Liss aptly stated: “One must either resist or, in varying degrees, collaborate.”

    Peace Jack Israel
    DWC High School
    Bronx, NY

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