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Punching Out the Time Clock

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In a small but highly symbolic move that drew applause from teachers, Richard R. Green, New York City's new schools chancellor, has given the district's principals three months to rid their schools of the time clock.

For years, teachers in most of the city's more than 950 schools have been punching the clock at the beginning and end of each work day, a requirement that the local United Federation of Teachers has argued is demeaning.

The union, which has been fighting to end the practice for more than three years, found an ally in Mr. Green.

"It is my view," the chancellor wrote in an Aug. 23 directive to his staff, "that professionals should not be required to use time clocks."

Mr. Green ordered principals to work with the teachers and other professional-staff members in their schools to develop an alternative method of recording the hours teachers keep. He has given them until Dec. 1 to have the new systems in place.

"Your cooperation in this collaborative effort to create a more professional atmosphere in our schools is appreciated," Mr. Green stated in the directive.

Officials of the uft, the nation's largest local union, praised the move, noting that New York may be the only large school system in the country still using the devices.

"We are very pleased to see Chancellor Green take the leadership on this," said Bert Shanas, a union spokesman.

"Time clocks are from another era when all schools were run like factories," Mr. Shanas added. "It's about time that the school system got out of the 19th-century, assembly-line, top-down management mode and moved into the world of school professionalism."

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