Teachers rallied outside the Department of Education yesterday.
Teachers rallied outside the Department of Education yesterday.

A few hundred teachers and union leaders rallied outside Department of Education headquarters last night to urge the DOE to fully implement a recent agreement creating incentives for principals to hire teachers who lost their jobs when their schools closed or were phased out.

The teachers, known as Absent Teacher Reserves or ATRs, have been covering classes and doing other assignments in schools, their salaries paid centrally by the DOE. The agreement will require Chancellor Klein to send a letter to all principals encouraging them to hire ATRs, and will provide financial incentives over the next 8 years for schools to place these teachers on their own payrolls. The incentives are meant to counteract the higher cost to a school of hiring a more-experienced teacher.

Several ATRs I spoke to at the rally said they were optimistic that the agreement will work because it is such a good deal for principals, though one added that even a letter from Klein will not convince all principals to look past the stigma attached to ATRs, since they have been portrayed negatively in the press. And another teacher said with school budgets as tight as they are, she doubts anyone will get hired, incentives notwithstanding.