Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Isolation of Being an ATR

A few weeks ago I touched on, and broke down the idiocy, of Chalkbeat's latest ATR missive. In the last few days,  Chalkbeat again showed it's cluelessness as well as the DOE's official mouth piece, the NY Post. The New York Times also chimed in, but it was a little less shrill.

All of these articles came out within the last 3-4 days and I so much wished to comment on them, to break the down the BS and expose the truth. But in a way, it'll be beating a dead horse. There must have been some way I can shed light on the truth without just rehashing the reality yet again.

Arthur Goldstein today helped me unlock what I been wanting to write about for some time but never found a proper segue to put fingers to keypad and share.

Arthur wrote...
It's important to note that any teacher can be brought up on charges at any time, and that even if the charges are nonsense it's likely some minor one will be sustained. Maybe you used your phone in the school, or did something equally inconsequential. That's enough to fine you a few thousand bucks and place you into the ATR. Then you're doomed, if the Post gets its way.
This is every ATR's nightmare. Yes, other teachers have this nightmare as well, but with an ATR it is especially magnified. One thing, one mistake, one act taken out of context can at worst, have charges brought against you or at best, a letter to your file in which no matter how trivial and how much great work you do the rest of the year will bring you a U rating.

This past December, my 3rd day in my assigned school, I was bringing a 5th grade class upstairs from lunch. I had never had this class before. They had no clue who I was. There was one young man you was quite attention seeking and was quite boisterous the walk up four flights of stairs.

When we got to the class I lined the students up and asked for quiet until I would send them in. Most of the class complied as I sent them in four at a time. In the meantime this student, and for the sake of keeping his anonymity will henceforth be known of Shlomo Epstein was getting more and more obnoxious.

With him and three other students the last ones to be asked to go in the classroom not only was his obnoxious level rising, but his obnoxiousness was rubbing off on the other students. Their teacher was in the classroom and she heard and saw of my issues yet did not lift a finger to help. It was her prep. A MADE UP PREP. I was on my own.

I asked Shlomo to step off the line. I walked up to him, whispered in his ear and stepped back. I was about 12-18 inches from him when he finally complied and walked to the other side of the hall. As he walked by me he tripped over his own feet, on purpose, and then threw himself into the wall. He turned around and screamed, "WHY DID YOU THROW ME INTO THE WALL????"

Then the teacher got involved. She asked one of the students if he had seen anything and he feigned ignorance. Great. 

My heart stopped. I knew it was BS and so did he. But, and I heard this later, his mother is a para for the DOE and she sees no wrong in Shlomo. And, I heard from other teachers that he has pulled this fake thrown into the wall act in the past.

At the end of the day the AP wanted me to give a statement. Just the facts. I wanted a UFT rep there with me. Not the one in the school (She was way, way too inexperienced) but I got hold of the Bronx UFT and was told that for a statement I did not need a rep. But I did it anyway.

The AP appeared sympathetic to me, but that could have been a ruse. It seemed that the adminstration was more concerned with mom and wished to share with her what had happened when she came to pick Shlomo up.

I immediately reached out to my District 7 rep and he assured me that when and if I met with the principal he will be there to rep me.

Days went by, I hated the wait. It was about 3 weeks until I got the notice to meat with the principal. At least it seemed that OSI bounced it back to the school. But I was still nervous.

When we met with the principal I signed the waiver to be able to read the statements of the other students. There were 11 statement and every single statement except one exonerated me of throwing Shlomo into the wall. Shlomo's statement was the only one still insisting that I had.

I was fortunate. My DR knew what to do and how to handle the situation. I doubt at anytime the school's CL could've done the same. I got no letter, no nothing. The principal was quite fair to me and treated me with dignity.

I am sharing this for a few reasons. One is how quick something so inane, so baseless can ruin a teacher's career in an instant. Second, that being an ATR, especially when you first arrive at a school you are basically an island onto yourself. You have ZERO support. Nothing, nada, bupkus. You are on your own. At this school there were a few teachers I knew from over the years and this helped. But too many ATR's are left alone and vulnerable in their schools and worse they are ignored and/or chastised.

One more thing. If you go into a discipline meeting, unless you have a strong Chapter Leader, whatever you do go into any discipline meeting with you DL.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Five ATR Answers for Chalkbeat

I stopped reading Chalkbeat a long time ago. Educational propaganda for the deformists and the ediots of the world.

But Chalkbeat (formerly Gotham Schools) is back at being the Pravda for the above mentioned hacks.

In today's Chalkbeat, new "reporter" and former Yale journalism (you could have gone to SUNY-Purchase's fine journalism school. It would have saved mommy and daddy a lot of money!) student, Daniela Brighenti, asked the 5 ATR questions that are on everyone's mind. But no need to worry anymore Daniela, we here at SBSB, myself and The Crack Team have decided to give you the answers you are looking for.

What is the average years of experience among teachers in the pool?

By our estimates, the average years of experience amongst all ATR's system wide is about 150.3 years. Yes, you read that right. Seriously, what do you think? Gosh, you answer your own question...
"Historically, the ATR pool has been comprised of teachers who are, as a group, more experienced than their peers.
Data from 2010 showed that teachers with 15 to 25 years of experience made up 31 percent of the ATR pool, as compared to 19 percent of all active teachers. In comparison, more junior teachers were underrepresented in the pool — 13 percent, compared to 29 percent of all active teachers."

Look around your Chalkbeat newsroom Daniela, how many scribes that look like Jimmy Breslin or Lois Lane are in the cubicles next to you? As Chalkbeat will only hire "presently graduated young reporters," so, will the principals only hire presently hired young teachers. It makes sense. Young and out of college means less pay, more manipulation.

What percentage of ATR teachers are in the pool for disciplinary reasons?

A lot. Some for some serious stuff, some for leaving toilet seats up. Does it matter? If we have been deemed by an arbitrator to keep our positions, why can't we have the same chances all teachers have. But again, discipline or no discipline, it does not matter. Age, salary, and as Chaz the blogger says, "institutional memory" are the ATR's greatest foes.

But again, if you are 23, clueless, and never taught, you are the right fit for any school.

How long have the teachers been in the ATR pool?

Since the dawn of time. Since Adam met Eve, since Luke fought his pops. But again, you are given the answer again by some anonymous principal...
" the time they spend outside the classroom and in the ATR could be harmful, since they are unlikely to receive the same professional development as teachers in full-time positions."
Why aren't you, your handlers, or anyone kvetching that the ATR's are treated as such and demand that the DOE give the ATR's the same access to REAL, ( not the crap on Mondays,) professional development? Guess what? ATR's want it!!!!

Where have ATR teachers worked in the past?

Where? As a teacher or in life? I worked at Rosen, Mandell, and Immerman, printing brokers right after high school. It was great. Loved commuting into the city. Once walked in on my boss cutting coke into lines. But this was in 1982, It was all the rage.

I also worked in McDonald's on Central Ave in 1980 and Wendy's on 9A in 1981. Shall I go on?

But if you want to really get answers, why not roll up your sleeves, hit the streets, do some real reporting and ask ATR's?

What areas are ATR teachers certified in?

I have two certifications. One, Common Branch and the other, Meat and Cheese Sandwich Engineering. I know one ATR that has a certification in marriage counseling and another ATR that has a certification in the mortuary sciences. But again......

If you want to really get answers, why not roll up your sleeves, hit the streets, do some real reporting, and ask ATR's?

I hope I helped you Daniela in answering all these questions. In fact, by answering these questions, I feel the sudden need to hide the afikoman for some reason and to smack the simple child in the face.

But one more bit of advice and please take it.

If you want to really get answers, why not roll up your sleeves, hit the streets, do some real reporting and ask ATR's?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Open Blog Post to Nicole Thomas (ATR Basher) Parent at PS 256 in Brooklyn

Here we go around, (round, round, round) Run-run-runaround, yeah! (round, round, round, round) Here we go around, (round, round, round)-Runaround, Van Halen, 1991 from For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.

Yeah, here we go around again, with the ignorant bashing of ATR's (Absent Teacher Reserve), by a bought off parent (more on this later in this post).

Nicole Thomas, a mom at PS 256 in Brooklyn, wrote a scathing op-ed in the Daily News yesterday, becoming the 1,553,234 person to be completely ill-informed about ATR's.

Nicole sayeth....

They land in the ATR — sometimes for a short period, sometimes for a long one — because they are unable or unwilling to find full-time teaching positions after losing their placements.

You know that for a fact Nicole? Who told you this? Have you seen it first hand? If you wish to say unable, have you considered that NO principal will hire a teacher that makes my salary, that has my number of years in the system? Yeah, I went through the ringer. I went through a 3020a. I was labeled a bad boy. Big flag on my personal file. But Nicole, aren't we all allowed a second chance? Have you seen me teach? Or any other ATR teach? I doubt it.

Guess what Nicole? I was a technology staff developer for 3 years, ran the computer room in my school for another three, have a Masters in Educational Technology and guess (not many have all this) just guess, what? I can't even get an interview when I apply on the Open Market.

As for ATR's being unwilling, well, why should they be willing? Why should an ATR want to be in a situation where they are judged on "junk science" and Danielson? Why would an ATR want to be in a dysfunctional school? Why would an ATR want to take the chance with a vengeful principal?

But guess what? 99.99% of the ATR's I know want to be in a school permanently. You think it is easy going from school to school and not knowing anyone? People treating you as if you have some disease? You think it is easy to leave a school after you build relationships with students, and then suddenly - BOOM! - you are whisked away?

Yet you talk about quality teachers. What is a quality teacher Nicole? A brand new teacher that has never taught before? A Teach for America hack that has had only 50 hours of training? Nicole, would you get in a plane with a pilot that has had only 50 hours of training? Would you allow a surgeon to operate on you, or a loved one, with only 50 hours of training? No you wouldn't.

Is it an ATR's fault they they are forced to teach 7th grade ELA and their license is elementary and whilst teaching 7th grade ELA they get zero support from administration?  Or what about the ATR who had a phys ed. license and has made to teach Kindergarten?

Nicole, you are labeling all ATR's with the same broad brush? You know another time this happened? In 1930's Germany, when all Jews heard that they were money grubbers, not real Germans, had big noses, were miserly, and other monstrosities that were said about them. What makes you any different?

But I know where your bread is buttered Nicole. StudentsFirstNY butters it, and butters it well. You want to hang with these people? You think for a moment that StudentsFirst cares about you or your family, or even your community? You are being played like a fiddle and when you outlive your usefulness, see how long, if ever, it takes Jenny Sedlis to return your calls.

But if you want to hang with these people, know that StudentsFirst is the evil spawn of Michelle Rhee. Read this and tell the world how you would feel if Rhee was your child's teacher. These are the type of people you are being a sycophant for.

Stop listening and sucking up the propaganda. Find out for yourself. My email is listed on this blog.