After instituting an out-system hiring freeze, forcing principals to hire from within the Absent Teacher Reserve pool, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein may now be disclosing that he’s less than optimistic about the candidates available for hire. I recently heard whisperings that the Department of Education has begun the process of assigning ATRs to school placements, where they will be put on rosters as permanent substitutes. Why isn’t the DOE waiting until the end of the summer to see if these teachers find jobs? Since the ATRs are not assuming full-time positions, preliminary placements are not usually finalized until August.
Is this an attempt to get a jump on a long and prickly administrative process? Or could Klein be admitting that these teachers, many of whom are u-rated and have been in the pool for years, unlikely to find work?
Klein has provided incentives for schools to hire from the reserve pool, including subsidizing 50 percent of each hired ATRs salary for the first year, and has now implemented the out-system ban. Yet there’s still a possibility, considering pending budget cuts and the possible release of the freeze for hard-to-staff subjects, that the reserve pool will not diminish. And if teachers receive their assignments early, some may be tempted (or content) to stay in the pool rather than apply for full-time positions. A few months down the road, a loaded reserve pool could serve as evidence that the current ATR policy, without time limits or salary caps, is ineffective.
Despite their agreement on the hiring ban, the ATR is not an issue Klein and the unions generally see eye to eye on. This could all build an interesting case for upcoming contract negotiations.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.