Paying Teachers Not to Teach Is Absurd — but Reviving NYC’s ‘Dance of the Lemons’ Hurts Kids by Daniel Weisberg outlines a problem that exists in many school districts.
“For most of the past decade, New York City has struggled to solve a seemingly ridiculous problem: It spends about $100 million every year paying teachers not to teach. That’s how much it costs to operate the city’s so-called Absent Teacher Reserve pool, a limbo for about 800 educators entitled to full salary and benefits even though their positions were eliminated.
. . . Teachers can apply for any open positions they want, and principals have final say on which candidates to hire. It’s called “mutual consent,” but it’s really just common sense.
When ATR teachers struggle to find new jobs, there are often very good — albeit uncomfortable — reasons. Consider a few findings from a 2014 analysis of ATR teachers:
About 25 percent had been brought up on disciplinary charges.
Another third had received unsatisfactory evaluation ratings.
More than half hadn’t held a regular classroom position for two or more years.
About 60 percent hadn’t applied for a single position in the previous year, suggesting they weren’t even trying to find a full-time job.
. . . because only a tiny number of tenured teachers are ever dismissed for poor performance, any who fail this forced “tryout” will likely end up being foisted upon another group of students at another school the following year. More to the point, subjecting thousands of kids to ineffective teachers for even a year is simply unacceptable.”
Weisberg posits that teachers who are remanded to the ATR would be forced into positions and “students in lower-income neighborhoods, where teaching positions have historically been most difficult to fill, would be hit hardest.”
The hiring, assessing and retention of teachers in most districts is politically based and at the discretion of principals and the union. Parents have little input into the process.
Teachers who “go along” “get along” while those who don’t, won’t.
Our entire system of education must be changed so that it concentrates on educating children not employing adults.
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