Can you imagine waking up every Monday morning and reporting to a different building each week to do your job? Your job might even change on a weekly basis: one week you could be working in the sciences and the next you might be filling out paperwork. However, you would still be considered a full-time employee for the DOE’s ATR and you would still receive your full salary. It sounds like the life of a super-secret-agent to me, but for the teachers who work for the Department of Education’s Absent Teacher Reserve, it is just another day at the job.
Each week, hundreds of teachers in New York City go through this routine. As a mentioned before, these nomadic teachers receive their full salaries not to teach their normal jobs, but to work as substitutes at different schools throughout the New York Public School District. Many of these teachers were “excessed” due to budget cuts, but some have escaped from the “rubber rooms,” where teachers are sent as punishment for “excessive lateness or absence, sexual misconduct with a [minor], physical abuse, incompetence or use of drugs or alcohol.”
Up until October 2011, ATR teachers would remain at one school for the entire school term. If they did a good enough job, the principal could decide to hire them. But now, the teachers move from school to school on a weekly basis because the United Federation of Teachers signed a deal with the DOE to make the change. The United Federation of Teachers claims that teachers will have a better chance of finding a job by changing schools each week because they will be meeting more new potential bosses.
The program is actually quite expensive. In 2010, the former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein suggested eliminating the program, which cost the city $100 million that year.
“That’s money that could be spent on teachers that we desperately want and need,” he said.
So why do the teachers who are part of the ATR program stay in it? Some of the teachers, who lost their jobs due to no misconduct of their own, like Rodney Nightingale, really wish they could get out of the program and into a permanent teaching position.
“It’s very stressful,” he said. “And very frustrating. It’s frustrating because I consider myself a good teacher, and I enjoy working with kids. This is not what I had in mind when I decided to do this for a living.”
Another teacher, who asked for anonymity to protect his newly found job, has written a blog about his experience in the ATR program.
“I wish I knew what the point was, because it certainly doesn’t serve the students… and it doesn’t benefit the teachers,” he said. “They are given meaningless assignments, so I don’t see who it’s benefiting.”
It seems to me that this program is obviously flawed, but I don’t see any easy fixes. Do you? Tell us about them in the comments section below.
Via The Huffington Post