Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Lesson For Arah Lewis

There have been a lot of comments here about how we should all feel sorry for Arah Lewis, the prospective teaching fellow who cried on Klein's shoulder yesterday. I'll state at the outset that I do feel sorry for her, but I'd like to frame the debate somewhat differently than the Times and Daily News have. (Kudos to Gotham Schools for breaking this story.) I'd like to teach Arah a lesson that she'll need to understand if she ever does land that job.

Aim: To learn why Arah Lewis can't get a job.

Do Now: Read the following bulleted paragraphs.

  • Michael Bloomberg and Joel Klein (hereinafter referred to as BloomKlein) are the ones who began shutting down schools for "poor performance". They did next to nothing to improve these schools. They did not lower class sizes or provide enough extra support--they just closed them down.
  • These closings resulted in many fine, hard working, dedicated teachers being "excessed", which is a tidy way of saying they lost their jobs.
  • In the past, these excessed teachers would have been able to find jobs on their own through the seniority transfer system. They would most likely all have been placed. BloomKlein and the UFT eliminated that system in 2005 and created a new sub-class of teacher, called an ATR, for Absent Teacher Reserve. These teachers can make 100K a year to be substitutes. The vast majority of them hate being subs and would like to return to teaching their subjects.
  • When the seniority system was eliminated, the "Open Market" was formed by BloomKlein. This would supposedly allow all teachers an opportunity to go where they were wanted. BloomKlein, however, changed the funding system for schools so that principals had to pay teacher salaries from their own budgets, thus creating a disincentive to hire anyone but the newest teachers. There are now 2400 teachers without jobs.
Medial summary question: Given the above facts, who is to blame for the ATR mess that costs the city 40 million annually?

If you read carefully, you deduced that Bloomklein is mostly responsible for the problem, with a huge assist from the UFT. So let's continue:

  • BloomKlein was given total control of the schools more than 7 years ago. Despite this, Joel Klein told you yesterday that “I don’t make the rules."
  • BloomKlein also blamed the economy for the hiring freeze. The mayor is trying to buy a third term because of his alleged business acumen, and yet he could not foresee an economic downturn that was several years in the making.
  • Despite knowing the bleak economic outlook, BloomKlein recruited you and others to be part of the Teaching Fellows program this past spring, just as they were about to impose a hiring freeze on teachers.
  • You were promised a job by the principal of MS337 despite the hiring freeze and the knowledge that you could not be placed.
Homework Question: You now know that BloomKlein created the ATR mess and still lured you into becoming a Teaching Fellow despite having no jobs available for you in the foreseeable future. Given this, explain in a well thought out essay why the hell you'd want to work for these buffoons in the first place. Make sure you discuss why you think they wouldn't screw you as hard as they've screwed the 2400 ATRs languishing in teacher hell.


Anonymous said...

To Accountable Talk: I noticed that you should include in your lesson plan an informal/intermedial assessment to determine TFA/TFs understanding of this lesson. Will they have a quiz at the end of the week to check who will need extra assignments or tutoring? Make sure that their Finals on this issue have 10-12 multiple choice questions and several short-response questions that deal with Klein's(the spinmeister) hiring of new teachers, how do you increase the ATR population, etc. Any TFA/TFs who fails your final on this issue CANNOT be promoted as per Klein's recent elimination of social promotion.

Mr. Talk said...

What's really startling is that there's a principal out there who decided to promise a TF a job on the basis of one demo lesson. I think this principal, Andrea Cyprys, , should be investigated to see if she interviewed ANY of the 2400 ATRs who should have been interviewed and hired before even thinking about offering a job in defiance of the hiring freeze.

yomister said...

Simply out of curiosity... how many teachers total have been designated to be an ATR since the beginning of Open Market? How many have found placements since the beginning of Open Market?

Regardless, the situation is intolerable and fiscally irresponsible. The number of teaching fellows has plummeted this year, with the vast majority being special education and science - areas that are still in need. The small remainder, however, are in a horrible position. Do note that Fellows were offered their acceptance to the program prior to the hiring freeze.

So we sit and wait to see what happens. But I can't see Bloomberg or Klein altering the Open Market system for hiring. They consider it a huge achievement: let principaks hire a teacher they want, and a teacher gets to work for a school they want.

I don't see the present contractual clause changing with the new contract.