Sunday, May 3, 2015
"Mr. Mulgrew, Tear down This Wall" or Why ATRs Need Their Own Chapter
For many years, in the late 1970s and early 80s, my aunt and her friends would gather several times a week to pray for the collapse of the Soviet Union. She also said a rosary nightly for its collapse. At the time I didn't understand a faith that strong or why she would care so strongly for a people she had no connection with. She was from Ireland. One day I asked her. She said those people are suffering and need God's intervention. As a teenager, I shook my head and thought to myself that the Soviet Union would never fall. As I watched it's collapse and heard Mr. Reagan's statement "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.", I was certain, and still am, that it was God and prayer that did it.
So what's all this have to do with the plight of a couple of thousand of the most educated, experienced, and disenfranchised members of the UFT? Most ATRs are teachers who come from closing schools (and a few that have been cleared of charges) and are not wanted in any school because of their high salaries, knowledge, and experience. So we were sent to a different school every week last year and a different one every few weeks this year. We are treated with distain in most of the schools we go to. The students and staff refer to us as subs, and that is basically what we are. Many of us have become completely demoralized and quit, retire or have become sick.
ATRs are stigmatized and may need help from our union. There is a myriad of reasons for this. Do we get that help? Many Chapter Leaders in the schools we are in don't want to represent us. One recently told me he didn't want to get involved when I asked him for representation. Many are afraid and unaware of their duties and the new contract. We want our own chapter and true representation. We have been denied this. The reason, I believe, is because we are unwanted even by our own union.
The UFT is very similar to the Soviet Union before its fall. No disention, robotic adherence to Party, and complete blindness to the overwhelming suffering of its citizens. The Soviet Union fell. If the UFT doesn't start representing all its members fairly, it will as well. Large groups of teachers are completely disgusted. Monday night our union will have the opportunity to give voice to ATRs by allowing them their own chapter. Mr. Mulgrew, tear down this wall.