An article in today's Gotham Schools blog really frosted my shorts. You can read it here, but I'll summarize. Joel Klein was exiting a speech at his new teacher orientation when a woman, a Teaching Fellow, accosted him and told him how unfair it was that she and others like her had to--if you can even believe it--wait their turn to get jobs teaching in NYC. If you can imagine!
I mean, these are people who want to be teachers and spent a whole few weeks preparing, so why shouldn't they get to skip the line over the 2500 ATRs waiting in limbo? So what if they have no experience and no seniority?
The woman then went on, “To be here and to hear you speak is wonderful,” she told Klein. “But it’s also kind of a slap in the face.” Because turn about is fair play, Klein proceeded to slap the 2500 ATRs in the face by saying “I don’t make the rules....If I did, everything would be different.” What he means, of course, is that if he had his way he'd fire all the ATRs and hire TFs. He punctuated his point by giving her his card.
Why do Fellows, and to an even greater degree TFAs, assume they they are entitled to ignore seniority rules? At least part of the blame has to go to our own union, which has gradually been selling off pieces of our seniority rights for years. The awful 2005 contract gave away seniority transfers, and senior teachers are often stiffed on positions in favor of newbies because principals know the grievance process is a farce.
So to all Fellows and TFAs who are unemployed, I do have some sympathy for you, but not as much as I have for those poor souls who've dedicated their lives to teaching and who now languish as overpaid, underutilized subs. Once they are placed, I will gladly support you. Until then, take a number, please, and get to the back of the line.
UPDATE: The New York Times has posted their own version of this story and you can comment if you wish. I did just that a few minutes ago.