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Monday, September 1, 2014

Time to Run for the Hills?

The Daily News had a recent piece on Chancellor Farina.  She has prioritized pre-K--which seems only right given the magnitude of the undertaking.  I don't envy her the task.  There will be so many bumps along the way, some very serious.  The media will focus on the bumps.  Yet, I think the vast majority of kids will benefit, hopefully interacting socially in an environment as free as possible from the stress created by the Common Core.  (I wish I could count on that last caveat.)  

According to the article, Farina "also expressed confidence she could improve teacher retention by restoring the dignity of the job.  But it won't be easy."  I agree.  Since most people become teachers for quality of life issues, I'm betting many will walk away from the City, even given the loss of retro pay, technically already earned.  It's better than being held accountable for the test scores of children over whom you may ultimately exert very little influence despite your best efforts.

The Daily News further stated that "Farina pledged to announce in the next two weeks a big reduction in the number of teachers getting paid despite not having steady classroom jobs....  Farina said that the numbers would  dwindle further as principals are taught best practices for writing up teachers and beginning the arduous termination process."  But will all principals distinguish the blameless from the culpable?  I am hoping against hope that the innocent won't get caught up in this maelstrom.

It seems the unholy war against ATRs, many of whom find themselves in their current position due to the fact their schools were closed, will escalate.  ATRs have been hammered by City and Union alike.  They were forbidden from forming a separate UFT chapter when in my mind it made all the sense in the world.  One ATR explained that the UFT felt it would divide membership.  Now, look, the UFT has done that very same thing.  It has divided membership.  ATRs are officially pariahs.  

In the last contract, the UFT encouraged permanent placement of ATRs in schools, but it also gave them the ultimate smack down of second-class due-process rights.  ATRs are now officially pariahs whether guilty or innocent.  If Farina is now helping principals terminate ATRs, I pity those who are blameless, yet branded by the media and, perhaps, their principal.  They have been separated marginalized, and now set up to be picked off one by one.   And will they lose their retro--which, UFT President Mulgrew would have us know, is not a "God-given right"--as well as their job?  

When the teachers of today realize that they may become the ATRs of tomorrow, to hell with teacher retention in the City.  You could be martyred at any moment by the test scores of the very same students whom you have tried so hard to help throughout your career.  Thanks to educational deformers, it may soon be time for more City teachers to head for those distant hills of higher-paying and academically safer suburbia. But for the present, enjoy your Labor Day 2014...and, above all, remember history is still being written.

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