Now that the agreement between the city and the UFT to fill vacancies with ATRs is kicking in, many schools are seeing an influx of ATRs. My school got at least three today that I know of. My school, like many others, had basically refused to use ATRs to this point, preferring to fill vacancies with newbies, so I really haven't had much opportunity to talk to any real live ATRs. Until today.
I went out of my way to talk to the ATR on my floor. I don't know what I was expecting, but I suppose some of the propaganda from the Klein era had seeped into my brain. This person would be sharing some of the kids I teach, and I half feared I would encounter someone who no one else would hire--someone, in short, who might be unsuited to the job.
I could not have been more wrong. The ATR I encountered was a perfectly charming woman who had lost her position due to excessing. She was intelligent, professionally attired (far more than I ever am), and eager to work. In the course of a ten minute conversation I had with her, I decided that if I were an admin at my school, I'd certainly want someone like her on my staff.
She has been in the ATR pool for THREE YEARS. No one will take her on permanently because she has eleven years in the system with her masters plus 30, so she makes significantly more than a newbie. Even if she is not a perfect fit for my school (and I'm not saying she isn't--but a ten minute conversation might not be enough to tell), she would surely be a great fit somewhere. It's absolutely disgraceful that someone who wants to teach can't find a job anywhere. Unfortunately, it appears that her stint at my school may only last for five days before she is again shuffled elsewhere. I thought the renewed agreement meant that ATRs got to stay, but apparently that's not the case.
So I want to apologize to all the ATRs out there for allowing Klein-speak to get into my head. I have had precisely one encounter with an ATR no one will hire, and she seemed to me to be an excellent candidate for any position. And I want everyone to know that there are some awesome teachers out there just waiting to be hired. It's time to get these talented teachers back to work.
Joel Klein and his successors did their best to stigmatize ATRs, and it worked to a large extent. This blog post is an attempt to wipe some of that away. I'm betting there are a lot of gems in the ATR pool, and principal wouldn't have to dive in very far to find them.