If you aren't following the Ariel Sacks saga, you should be. She is (to me) a newbie teacher who has seen fit to disrespect ATRs and veteran teachers alike by claiming how incompetent they are on Gotham Schools. Read it for yourself.
I was one of the first to comment on Ms. Sack's unfortunate post, and I blogged about it here as well. Then Gotham Schools blogged about me blogging about it. It has taken on Balloon Boy proportions in the local education blogosphere, as I pointed out in a comment to this post. Ms. Sacks herself responded, which was quite kind of her, so I thought the least I could do was write a personal response. So here it is:
Dear Ms. Sacks,
Thank you for taking the time to post on my humble blog. First, I'd like to correct a few aspersions you have cast on it. You called this blog a ..."safe space where you have a group that is on the same page about enough things that you don't have to explain yourselves to each other." In truth, I've posted on many blogs where I have meticulously explained my views. Blogs tend to be places where like minded people gather anyway. Far from your implication that I am somehow cowardly for posting here, I would remind you that I was one of the first to call you out on your post on Gotham Schools. Furthermore, I have posted at least ten times about the ATR situation--all of them long before your post to Gotham. Everyone has the opportunity to refute my views on this blog--including you. I don't delete opposing viewpoints.
Now, please allow me to address some other issues. In your comment, you tell me: "You're (sic) "scathing," or perhaps just rude, remarks make this into a personal not professional debate, which weaken your arguments." If that makes my arguments weak, yours must have positively atrophied by now. In your Gotham post, you call 37 ATRs unqualified to teach at your school (what your qualifications are that exceed theirs remains unclear). You smear these veteran teachers by presenting an ad hominem and a false choice argument in one (quite an accomplisment, BTW): "Are these teachers really the dregs of the profession? Or is it that they’ve become all too comfortable being ATRs with no teaching position and do not want to go back to the classroom?" Can you enlighten me, Ms. Sacks, on how calling veteran teachers the "dregs of the profession" elevates the level of discourse? You proceeded to say that ATRs are not welcome at your school, and that they "behave like incompetent substitutes". Would you not consider that scathing and rude? You say they are like "refugees" in the teachers' room. How should they feel, given your attitude towards them?
You wonder why you get negative reaction when, in addition to the above slurs, you appear complicit, or at least in total agreement, with the decisions of your administration to skirt the terms of the hiring freeze and education regulations. Your school passed on 37 candidates and numerous subs for a math class while "...we attempted to wait the hiring freeze out." (emphasis mine). How long did you plan to violate the terms of the hiring freeze? How long did you intend to allow a math class to be without a regular teacher because of your distaste for ATRs? You seem in full agreement of your principal's decision to pull a special ed teacher from a CTT class in order to avoid hiring a senior teacher. Do you really feel it was appropriate to deny mandated services to children with special needs because you prefer not to have any of the "refugees" mingling with you in the cafeteria? Shouldn't their education come first?
You seem to be resentful that teachers like me don't work as hard as teachers like you. In truth, I probably don't work as hard as someone like you. I don't need to. I know what I am doing. I've taught every grade numerous times and I know my subject area inside out. I have written plans for every type of class for every type of reading and writing assignment imaginable. I have a stockpile of tried and true lessons that I can adapt for any class and which I have refined over the course of several decades to be as effective as possible. Perhaps you work so hard because you lack the experience to draw upon when writing your own lessons. When I was as new as you, I had to work much harder, too. The difference is that I didn't resent senior teachers; I reached out to them to learn how to become the best teacher I could be.
You also seem resentful that veteran teachers make more money than you do. You specifically mention an out-of-license ATR who, while adapting to the class, irked you because " I feel like I’m training her, while she gets paid twice my salary." Perhaps you are unaware that teaching has never been a well paid profession, and it used to be much worse. I made about $18K in my first year--how about you? Do you resent the fact that I achieved my master's plus 30 (plus much more) and put in more than two decades of dedicated service?
I do have a question for you. As a young teacher, what gives you the right to judge all of your fellow teachers and paint them with such a broad brush? Did you sit in on the 37 interviews your principal conducted? Did you personally observe each one teaching? If so, what qualifies you to make an evaluation as to what you saw? What qualifies you to say that ATRs have an "apparent low ability to teach"?
I suppose we should give you a break. Being lead teacher and department chair are heady things, after all. Your principal must think a lot of you. I can only hope for your sake that this principal stays around forever, because with a change of administration in a few years you may find yourself working in a school where you are considered the pariah for being one of those over paid veterans who soak up too much of the school budget. Should that ever happen, you may just find yourself standing shoulder to shoulder on the interview line with your fellow ATRs, avoiding eye contact with all the newbie teachers who consider you one of the dregs of the teaching profession.
It shouldn't happen to anyone. Not even you.