"30 Schools In 30 Weeks"

My adventures as a Gypsy going from school To school in a futile search for a real teaching position.

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Adventures As A Gypsy ATR . School #5.

I was sent to another "restart school" in the southern part of the Borough and found that this school rivals the other "restart school" (school #3) in how badly run the school is. This school is underutilized and it appears that only students that were not selected to go to other schools are students there. The majority of the students come from the low-income projects just blocks from the school and almost all the student body are low achieving and struggling students.

Many of the problems in the school comes from an Administration that looks the other way on imposing student discipline. The hallways always seem to have groups of students walking aimlessly around, knocking on doors, screaming obscenities, and socializing. Even during the official attendance period, the school allows students to come in anytime during the period and require the teachers to admit them in their class and mark them "late"(in the world of the school's Administration attendance is more important than real learning). Students threatened to go to the school administrators when teachers rightfully refuse to let these students in during the last 15 minutes of the class.

The student culture of "disrespect & aggression" was the worst I have every experienced in any school. The students "disrespect" each other, school staff, and even their own teachers where cursing seems to be the norm. Many of the students use the school as a social event and believe just showing up to class entitles them a passing grade, or so teachers have told me. These very same teachers informed me that the Administration pressures the teachers to pass the students even when they don't deserve it. The culture of violence is very evident in the school as it is very common to see the male students slapping the girls in the face or punching them on the upper arm and grabbing them with impunity as if they are a "piece of meat". The girls hit the boys whenever they feel like it and simple assault seems to be the normal for both sexes at the school. The boys dress "ghetto" with pants down to their knees, hats and hoodies. The girls act just as badly as the boys with obscenities and threats in almost every sentence spoken between them.

The school has three unfilled official vacancies and science classes of only four periods a week, instead of the required five, savings the school from hiring two Science teachers. Labs are done in a classroom rather than a laboratory room and it seems that some teachers are required to teach an additional science class that is not in their certification area.

Finally, the teachers are subject to the teacher evaluation matrix and many of the teachers complained how easy it is for administrators to abuse it and some have already been through two of them and are not happy about the results. Teacher morale is low and may plummet further as the "ineffective" teacher evaluations pile up.

This is another school, I am happy to leave and for this school to survive, it needs a new Administration and a zero tolerance student discipline code that is presently lacking. I pity the teachers stuck there.



  1. How can they talk about teacher evaluation when the kids run the institution. The press needs to visit this school. Absurd.

  2. What a dismal scenario. Who evaluates the administrators??? The inmates are running the asylum!

  3. I really like this blog because it's a great window on the BS Bloomberg and Walcott (and Klein) are trying to get away with. However, the term "ghetto" is not very appropriate. This style of dress can be found on kids of all races and the way it's used here is stereotyping the students as being of a certain color and that's unfortunate. I hope you sincerely think about this and revise your post with a description of the attire without the "reference" because this is a pretty good blog and doesn't need to go down that road.

  4. It's amazing in a way, but in another not surprising at all, that these "transformation schools" are so poorly run. It certainly appears the agenda is to close rather than help them. It's pathetic that the DOE is entrusted with education, and the only input the public gets is the rubber-stamp PEP.

  5. Anonymous 12:52

    I understand your concern about the word "ghetto". However, I saw nothing in the article that identified the students by the color of their skin. I work in a school where the students come from a working class community and the Administration tells the students that dressing "ghetto" is not acceptable and the students respond by dressing appropriately.

    Sometimes politically correct speech goes too far. It is quite obvious that the Traveling ATR was making a point that the dress of the students is not appropriate and nothing ese.

    You might find the word inappropriate but I think it fits when I see kids dress that way.

  6. I agree with Anon 1:29. Both my students and I would identify "Ghetto" in the context of a certain street style of dress; one where the crotch of the pants is between the knees for boys and underwear is to be seen. It's inappropriate school attire; it's against both safety and distraction dress codes.

  7. Unfortunately anon 12:32 most of the students that dress with their pants down to their knees are of the African American persuasion. Just an observation...there are a few white and Asian boys working around with their pants like that but they are in the minority. And there is a ghetto style of dress...it is a fashion statement. Please don't turn this blog into a racial issue...

  8. Anon 3:55

    The style of dress is very inappropriate, especially in a school setting and should never be tolerated.

    As for making it a racial issue? You told the Traveling ATR it was racial when using the word ghetto when it was not. Just an observation.

  9. I used the word "ghetto" because that is how the boys dressed not about their behaviors. I meant no racial insinuation and I am sorry the word offends you.

    i do not apologize for the word since it simply described the way they dress but I will be more careful in my use of words that could be considered insensitive to a race, sex, or culture.

    Thank you for your comments, they are greatly appreciated.

  10. Everything is so politically incorrect. It is your blog post the words you want to use and if someone is offended then they should not read YOUR blog!

  11. To all that responded to my comment (except for Traveling ATR)

    I never used the word racist so don't go putting words in my mouth!! I just pointed out it can be construed as insensitive, and I don't think the ATR Traveler was aiming to do that.

    And as a reader, I have a right to comment. I so I am glad The Traveler understood my comment and he alone is all that matters. For the record, I was in NO Way asking for an apology.

  12. I also find it interesting that the rest of my comment was totally ignored.

  13. Who cares.The inmates are running the asylum and you are quibbling about correct terms. The fact is that the coarsening of society continues and we are being constructively discharged/forced out.
    The term politically correct was coined by Stalin. Stop worrying if you hurt someones feelings. It is brutally clear that neither the union or the doe give a shit about ours.

    Bedouin Teacher

  14. You obviously didn't read the rest of my comment since the use of a certain term was just a small part of my comment and the rest of the comment was about the horrible treatment and the UFT's turning their backs on you!!

    I do not know if you voted YES to the '05 contract, but just in case you did, or anyone else who is now an ATR did, you f-ing deserve what you are facing now!! You wanted the money over excessing rights--you got it!!

    For those who voted NO, I hope you are able to find a position you are happy with or are able to retire soon.

  15. With the 05 contract, we also got the no layoff clause and the money. I don't defend all the union does, but that no layoff clause and tenure are the 2 most vital things in our contract. i could care less about going week to week being a sub. I don't have to deal w/ admin, parents, or other annoying teachers. I get to go in, hang out w/ a class all day, do my best and have no stress. Do I care that I am not teaching? No. the city created this, they can fix it

  16. How much longer do you think that clause will last with a new contract?

  17. they will never give away the no layoff clause. why would they? do you know nothing about collective bargaining? the uft will stay under this contract for as long as possible or at least until there is a new mayor. if you give up the atr protection and the no layoff, then you have a system in which principals/superintendents can hire and fire at will and the union will be completely null and void. the union is about job protection. the no layoff clause will be in there unless we go to arbitration and that will never happen.

    a lot of the teachers blame the atrs for why we don't have a contract. not true. the city plays games with the hiring freezes, claims they have no money and is trying to make people quit.

    we won't have a contract for a while, but we will have protection.

    if the city's teaching force signs a new contract with seniority and no layoff clause gone, then we are idiots and even though the union can act like hacks sometimes, they'd never let a contract like that go to a vote

  18. I read Mulgrew was in negotiations with Bloomberg.

    While I agree with you, I think they will get around that clause via the new evaluations--the same that are now used in Restart schools. If you recall, before this ATR agreement, ATR's were being observed--even thought they were not covering their licensed programs--and getting U ratings.

    Every contract Unity has agreed to always sounds good on the surface until you realize the wording is so ambiguous that the DoE can do whatever they want. It happened under Klein many times.

    The '05 contract never should have gone for a vote either. Although some ignored the ATR provision, there were still many other givebacks in that contract. Money is never worth any giveback.

    You seem to forget that there are many ATRs with less than 15 years in the system. This for them is a miserable existence even if you are happy with life as an ATR. Of course I would hope you wouldn't say that to the media. (although you did publish it here) Teachers have enough bad PR as it stands.

  19. for many with too few years in being an atr sucks. if you have 1-3 years left good-luck. this way the city gets rid of high paid staff even if they are good teachers too early and the few bottom feeders faster. for the new tier 5 folks and those without tenure it too sucks. after one year, no job. The city wins AND the uft wins. we lose...the teachers and ultimately the kids. get it! i voted no on this contract too. call me cynical but teachers don't read the instructions or they would have voted no as well. i too think the uft collapsed against the empty threats of lay-offs like some of you said. so, it's time to stick it to the UFT. the sooner the better. no talk of contracts or atrs in the latest uft paper..huh!

  20. I'd rather teach in a good school, but knowing what a bad administration is like, i do not mind being an ATR. You forget, the city has a contractual obligation to place us which they do not do. That I will say here and would tell the media. Why is everyone afraid to tell the truth?

    Also, you gotta love hindsight. Everyone is now against the 05 contract. I voted for it. Although looking back, some things were a mistake, the union did predict this ATR mess which is why they wanted the no layoff clause which will be in the contract forever! mark my words. the problem with the union is that they do not teach members how to properly protect themselves like keeping a log, reporting bad administrators, not being afraid etc etc.

    although i like teaching a lot, if i am an atr, i am an atr. i need to make a living. there are more important things in my life than other teachers treating me like a sub. i have a wife, kids, and a mortgage. if the most horrific part of my day is not being a 'real' teacher, then so be it. let the city place me and i will be a good teacher again!

  21. there has been talk of negotiations for a few years. we are in what is called 'fact finding' there will not be a new contract until there is a new mayor. then, only God knows when we will get a new contract. this system is such a mess that i feel for the new mayor. my guess is john liu will use our union to get elected like bloomberg did in 2005 for his 2nd term

  22. when i was a teacher, i had an AP try to give me a U rating for a 'walkthrough' b/c i had bad management of an unruly class. i stood up for myself. told her that these kids curse at her like they curse at me and said if it went any further, i would file harassment against her. that shut her up. with this ATR agreement, do you really think an administrator will observe an atr when they are gone come friday? come on!

  23. Vet:
    Read my comment carefully. There were U-rated observations PRIOR to this new ATR agreement. We do not know what next year will bring in terms of another ATR agreement. If Walcott orders observations in hopes of getting more U ratings, then it will happen.

    Not only did I vote NO, so did the majority of the staff at my school. Randi came to spin the contract, but we saw right through her. And I was a few years away from retirement, but no amount of money would ever let me vote Yes to a contract with givebacks. Excessing rights should have been fought for!!!

    As for your comments here, they are being viewed by others too across the country. I know because this site has been linked on a popular education Facebook page.

    Liu has always been a supporter of public education. Yes, he's a politician like all politicians, but I don't like Quinn. I hope the union backs him after stabbing others in favor of Bloomberg.

    This is for The Traveling ATR.....I think Tisch was in one of your schools and she was not happy..."No one's in the class and kids are wandering around the hallway. I couldn't tell me for the life of me what the instruction was," said Tisch.

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/york-state-board-regents-chancellor-merryl-tisch-blasts-mayor-bloomberg-s-school-reforms-article-1.974918#ixzz1dH95b7fq

  24. I agree about Quinn. In my opinion she is Bloomberg light. Liu is pro-placing ATRs, so I think he would be a quality choice if elected.

    In the past 2 years, I was doing vacancies in my license area and passed over for the position both times without being observed for someone who adminisrators in both schools saw as a better 'fit' ie they were both spanish speaking females in a predominantly spanish speaking area. Although I could not get them to say it, in my opinion that was the truth how I saw it.

    One time, I found out through the students I was being passed over and the 2nd time, when I approached the principal about the position, she became so enraged at me for even broaching the subject that I was actually looking forward to being moved after the initial ATR assignment was up. This is why I feel being an ATR is no the worst thing in the world. It's the truth and I do not care if the media gets a hold of it.

    You guys have done a good job pointing out the flaws of the 05 contract which maybe I was duped on. But, let's not look back 6 years from now with this ATR stuff and say,'maybe we should've exposed what was really going on back then.'

    i have written letters to the Daily News, Post, Times etc about this topic and since I speak the truth about the ATR topic and shows how truly difficult it is for us to land a position, they refuse to print it

  25. The thing is, the '05 contract is important because it should serve as a reminder that the union doesn't always have our best interests at heart. They are really pushing Danielson the same way they pushed for the Gates model using test scores. According to the ICE blog, Mulgrew once again glossed over the ATR issue at the latest session of the DA. That's what makes me think the writing is on the wall for the future of ATRs. He is claiming that the ATR deal is a money saver in light of the new budget cuts coming down the line. How that is possible when schools are hiring outside the ATR pool is questionable. Also the way he avoids any answer when an ATR issue is brought up is also very telling. Why aren't the ATRs on his speaking agenda? Why isn't is rousing the rank and file at these DA meetings to stand up for ATRs?

    Honestly, I hope retirement for you is around the corner.

  26. Don't you realize that every few years, they promote a 'new' model of teaching? america's choice, the workshop model, differentiation etc etc. it's all a phase and if they bother you so much, all you have to do is say you are being harassed, then from my experiences, the administrator disappears.

    The rhetoric that the city has no money is something I am also tired of listening to because that is a crock.

    if the union ever gave us up, which they won't, then you sue them. their job is to protect our jobs and by giving us up to layoffs, they are not protecting our jobs.

    Bottom line. We will have a job and the way I see it, I have tried like heck to find a classroom position, have been passed over for reasons I will not repeat, have gone to bed furious over the way it has happened and now I have to accept being an ATR. If they want me to have a program, I will do it with pride, but for the time being, ATR status is something I have to come to grips with. Talk to people on long island who have been excessed, they would kill to be in our position.

  27. I'm curious-what happens to excessed teachers on Long Island?

  28. I've also been to a school just like #5. I submitted a report about it to the UFT because I am afraid to go back.I wonder what would happen if more of us submitted reports about these schools??????