New York

UFT launches "Let Us Teach" campaign to support excessed teachers

The budget-crunched DOE could save millions of dollars by helping teachers who are currently in the Absent Teacher Reserve find permanent positions instead of hiring new teachers to fill open slots, UFT President Randi Weingarten argued yesterday afternoon at a press conference to launch the union's "Let Us Teach" campaign. Two teachers flank UFT President Randi Weingarten at yesterday's press conference The campaign is a response to the growing number of teachers without assignments — there are more than 1,400 — and a sustained attack on those teachers by The New Teacher Project, an organization the DOE has hired to recruit, screen, and place new teachers in the city's schools. Joining Weingarten were eight ATRs — for the most part, teachers who were excessed when their positions were eliminated because their schools closed or were downsized — who say they have tried desperately to land a regular teaching position without success. "All I want to do is teach," said one teacher who lost her job last year when the school for pregnant and parenting teens where she taught was closed. Contradicting the chancellor's claim that many teachers in the reserve choose not to look for work, the teachers at the press conference all said they had applied for dozens of jobs, both through the DOE's centralized hiring system and outside of it, and had rarely even been offered an interview. Instead of helping teachers whose positions were eliminated find new jobs, the DOE has created financial disincentives for principals to hire experienced teachers, who command higher salaries, and incentives to keep use ATRs as staff as long as possible, because the DOE picks up a portion of their salaries, Weingarten said.
New York

National Board Standards “by teachers, for teachers,” mentor says

"We need to take responsibility for professionalizing ourselves," Lorraine Scorsone told me, explaining her decision to become a candidate for National Board Certification in 1994, when few had heard of the certification. Scorsone, who now mentors the latest crop of candidates through the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) Teacher Center, was a kindergarten teacher looking for a new challenge. National Board Certification seemed like a good fit. "The hook was that I read that the standards were written primarily by teachers, for teachers. When I read those standards, I got goosebumps. ...[F]or the first time, the complexities of teaching were described." This year, 53 New York City educators are starting the process of becoming board certified. Altogether, 137 National Board Certified teachers have come from New York City, 99% through the UFT National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Project, Scorsone told me. Candidates working with the UFT NBPTS Project meet twice monthly to work on their applications and get help from mentors and from each other. "The more experienced you are, the more underground, in a sense, your teaching goes," Scorsone said, explaining that the application process helps teachers "deconstruct what [they] do and why [they] do it, then put it back together through synthesis." Teachers seeking National Board Certification must submit three portfolios of classroom practice, documenting their teaching through written reflection, videos of their interactions with students, and samples of student work, plus a fourth portfolio called "documented accomplishments," which highlights the work they've done beyond the classroom — whether reaching out to parents or attending professional development programs — that has positively impacted their students.