Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Ticket to the ATR Pool

I'm a masochist at heart, so I actually check my DOE email in the summer. Usually there's nothing there except the usual notice that the server will be down Sunday morning at 6AM. (Oh no! Now what will I do?)

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.


ASTRAKA said...

Many of us have been mentoring new teachers for many years.
What did we get in return?
Not money, but the respect and appreciation of our colleagues.
What was our final advice to the new teachers? Continue the tradition of sharing and helping others.

We will not be used as tools to intimidate other teachers, or help the DoE destroy the teaching profession for any amount of additional money.

Anonymous said...

I was immediately suspicious of this "opportunity" and the information that has been omitted from the announcement. Your insight and candor is appreciated.

Miss RIm said...

Wait a second - aren't already there school or district based "coaches" out there that already fulfill these roles? And mentor teachers? Sounds to me like it's the same old "DIVide, Conquer, and Confuse" Strategy coming from the higher ups.

Anonymous said...

It's not really a 30% pay raise when your work hours are also increased. There is obviously some raise, but it's not 30%.

I wonder if it might not even be a bit of a slippery slope, i.e., the DOE could say: "if these people can work this extra time, why couldn't all teachers?"

Anonymous said...

This is one of those set-ups where you're asked to apply, but the job is already promised to someone else--and in this case, I am thinking TFA. When has any school position not asked for at least 5 years of successful classroom experience??? And why would it be opened to a non-tenured teacher? And Mulgrew agreed to this? Who side is he really on? After reading Ednotes I wonder if the lawsuit was destined to fail? Remember how he backed last year's lawsuit against the closings then told the mayor he can still convert those schools into small schools? Unfortunately the rank and file is not as savvy as the Tier 1 and 2 teachers are (and were) and Unity is taking advantage of that so they can look good politically. I bet the Obama endorsement is right around the corner too. After all, Duncan can do no wrong!!

FidgetyTeach said...

Great post. I smell more teacher extermination. Thank you for your insight.