SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Acronym Teachers

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Acronym Teachers

What a cool sounding acronym. ATR (Absent Teacher Reserve). It just oozes coolness like some old rock band. In fact that is that some of these teachers should do, form a rock band and call themselves ATR. They will be up there in the pantheon of acronyms with CSN, ELO, ELP, GTR. I mean they certainly do have the time to rehearse and tour.

In the old days there was the seniority transfer. Basically a list came out in the spring of anticipated openings that were not filled by appointed or tenured teachers and presto, you could just take the job away from that teacher. The contract of 2005 I believe eliminated that and gave us the Open Market Transfer. OK fair enough. I could see the principals point of view on this. You do not want someone you don't know or want in your school.

So how does this Open Market Transfer work? Between April and the beginning of August you go online to the DOE website and find openings that are anticipated in the entire city. You can look by district, school, borough, specialty, license area, etc... Once you find the schools you are interested in there is a form in which to send by email your resume and a cover letter and then you wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. And wait some more.

But only if you have many years in the system. I don't know what the cut off point is in years in which you won't even be acknowledged by the recipient principal. Two years ago a colleague of mine applied to about eight schools through the OMT. What he teaches very few in the city could teach well, he has a Masters in this field, and came with many recommendations. Guess how many responses he got? If you say more than zero you are wrong. He got nothing, nada, zippo. But not just because he makes too much money.

Oops, added CCR to the list above!

The problem is, and this is for most teachers who are ATR's, is that these teachers think to independently. To paraphrase Ayn Rand, "hold your head above the crowd, they going to bring you down." You really think a principal wants to deal with someone who is confident in themselves? NO WAY! They want someone young, someone they can mold, someone they can manipulate, someone they can instill fear in.

Where are these types of teachers found? Through Teach for America and the Teaching Fellows. Hey don't get me wrong, a lot of these teachers are excellent. But I see a lot from East Nowheresville, USA and all they want to do is come and live in Manhattan with 4 roommates, and leave after their three years. Gosh, the NYC schools are like the Kansas City Royals. We develop them and they leave to the Yankees (suburbs).

Or you get someone like I encountered several years ago who looked like Dudley Moore, left banking and was placed in a middle school. By the middle of October he was in the corner sucking his thumb and rocking back and forth. Oh but he was a Fellow, he must be good. You know, if memory serves, the students were doing a Native American war dance around him as well. I don't think there was a fire ring though. But don't quote me on this.

Just as aside. My second year teaching we had a teacher who had a Harvard undergrad degree and went to Bank Street College. My principal was so enamored with her pedigree she wanted us to learn from her. She couldn't handle the students, she was gone after Veteran's Day. The teacher, not the principal.

There has to be some middle ground. The contract clearly spells out what must be done with excessed teachers. But change has to come from Tweed. Tweed has to stop teaching the principals on how to skirt rules and regulations.

Hey thought of a great name for a rock band for the people at Tweed. In the spirit of great acronym names I give you FUBAR.

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