Education Opinion

ATRs Continued: The UFT’s Policy Recommendations

By Eduwonkette — June 09, 2008 2 min read

At the end of last week, the UFT responded to the New Teacher Project report on ATRs in NYC. (If you missed the backstory, see Why You Should Read the Fine Print in the New Teacher Project Report, Why Buy the Teacher When You Can Have the Teaching for Free?, Tim Daly on the New Teacher Project report, and Joel Klein Blames Teachers for $4 Gas, Subprime Crisis).

Though the NYT article was pretty vague, the UFT actually made six policy recommendations:

1. The DOE should take a more pro-active role in placing ATRs, as the contract requires, by sending ATRs for the first interviews for open positions, before other candidates—new hires or transfers—are considered. Successfully placing more ATRs would avoid the unnecessary costs of hiring and mentoring more new teachers and maintaining a large ATR pool when the talent already exists in the system to staff vacancies.

2. Make teacher hiring selections financially neutral. The FSF budget replaced a longstanding system in which schools were fully funded for their teachers. Schools considered only an educator’s qualifications and “fit” for a position at the school, with no incentive to hire the cheapest candidate. Such a neutral system is fairer all around.

3. As an incentive, DOE could, for a specified period of time, cover the cost of ATRs who are permanently hired in a school.

4. Implement the contract provision that permits the union and DOE to negotiate a buyout to any remaining excessed teachers. Any additional cost would be offset by savings for the school administration.

5. Let the experience and expertise of ATRs be known to principals rather than maligning them, thus encouraging their hiring.

6. Offer a coaching and skills training program to ATRs who wish to enhance their marketability.

These recommendations sound pretty reasonable to me, and I see no retreat on mutual consent here. I can’t say enough times that creating an incentive to hire the cheapest candidates was one of the poorest policy choices the NYC DOE has made. For similar reasons (the problem of creating different price incentives across candidates), I’m not crazy about #3 - but the real action above is in reforming “Fair Student Funding” and negotiating a buyout.

And to eduwonk’s point about the dispute over how many ATRs are performing the duties of full-time classroom teachers: student schedules and report cards/transcripts are a good place to start looking. If you’re responsible for evaluating students for more than a marking period, you are their regular teacher.

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