Tuesday, July 26, 2011
If you check yours, you've seen the new DOE "opportunity" to become a Master Teacher or Turnaround Teacher in one of the schools that the DOE has called failing. In exchange for 100 extra hours and some duties, teacher who qualify work and mentor at these schools and receive extra compensation--30% if you land the Master Teacher gig, and 15% of you become a turnaround teacher.
It sounds like a good deal. The UFT endorsed it and calls it a start toward creating a career ladder for teachers (BTW--why do we need this? Are we abandoning salary steps and longevity?). And in these financial times, a 30% hike in pay sounds pretty appealing. If you're at the top step, like me, you could make an additional $30,000 a year. So what's not to love?
The devil seems to be in the details, as usual. Take a look at the language in the posting:
Master Teachers receive additional compensation of 30% over and above applicable annual salary for up to two years contingent upon the selected candidate: a) remaining in the school through the 2012-2013 school year; and b) maintaining a rating of “highly effective” for each year starting in the 2011-12 school year.
The first condition seems pretty easy. The second one, not so much. It appears you would have to achieve a "highly effective" rating for both years of working in a failing school or you'll be out the door. How that rating will be determined still hasn't been agreed to by the DOE and UFT.
You may say, "So what? I'll take the chance. Even if they boot me after the first year, I've made a lot more money. If I get a good rating, I'll make it through both years."
True, but in either case, the sword of Damocles hanging over your is this: What happens if you're dismissed after one year, or when your two year term is over? Where do you go? I've looked over these postings and there is no mention of what happens to you after your stint is up.
If you had retention rights and could just return to your old school, I'd say this is a wonderful opportunity. On the other hand, if you had retention rights, I'm pretty sure they'd mention it somewhere in the job posting.
What will most likely happen is that after one or two years, you'll be sent to find a job in the Open Market. If you can't get one (and trust me on this one--you can't), you will likely get sent to the ATR pool where you can do sub work for the rest of your career. That career ladder you want to climb will come crashing to the ground.
Of course, if you're a young teacher, you may want to go for this. You only need one year of teaching experience to apply (now that's what we call setting the bar really high!). As such, you don't even need tenure to become a master teacher.
My advice is stay the hell away from this "opportunity". I know quite a few ATRs who got there because their position was eliminated. You don't want to join them.