Thursday, July 20, 2017

ATRs Are Teachers

He's an ATR!

   First things first, I'm a teacher. A teacher who's status is currently 'ATR'.  I'm not a lemon, drunk, pervert or sub. I'm tenured, permanently licensed, respect everyone and respect myself. I love God, my family, my friends, the arts, the USA and children of all ages. When I say children, I'm referring to those that experience joy, sharing and laughing. I also include those that are wounded. I can experience just about any type of pain, but if my kids are in pain or serious trouble it is unbearable. Everytime I teach, I try to remember that. I want that student, even if he or she curses and threatens me, to succeed. Why? Well, in many ways he or she is my child. I want them to have a good life, hopefully even a better one than me. That's not to say I've had a bad life - I'm grateful for all of God's gifts. If I walk into a room and see a teacher that doesn't know the subject, I don't judge him or her, I try to help. Often, I'm shunned - even when placed with another teacher.

    Recently, I was in a class where the facts presented were completely incorrect concerning Judaism. When I tried to explain the concept privately (so as not to embarass or upset the teacher in front of the students), I was asked by the (12 year experienced) teacher how I could 'know so much being, an ATR' and not licensed in Social Studies. First, I politely asked what she thought of ATRs. She told me, 'really bad teachers that they weren't able to fire'. I explained that anyone could be brought up on charges, and that even if cleared they were turned into ATRs for life. I also explained that the group she referenced was only about 10 -15% and the rest of us were excessed, mostly from closed schools. She replied, 'if you guys were any good you would have been hired'. I then explained school budgeting vs. centralized budgeting and that most ATR salaries were too high for most individual school budgets. She looked at me like I was crazy. She then asked if I was Jewish (I'm not), because she didn't understand how I knew what I had explained to her. I was getting uncomfortable with the level of her ignorance, lack of social skills and stereotypes. This didn't stop me from trying to help her. In helping her, I was helping the kids and myself. You see, I believe we all have a calling. For me, and perhaps also for you, it may be teaching, and helping others. If I ran into this teacher in the hall, she wouldn't answer me if I said good morning, and often looked at me like something that had stuck to the bottom of her shoe. I've experienced this in many schools from staff and it doesn't really bother me anymore. It's being an ATR.

    The last week of school this particular teacher was excessed and turned into an ATR. Next year's school budget was cut and several teachers were excessed. Several teachers told me the teacher I referenced above was crying so badly they had to send her home. They asked me to go speak to her to let her know how great being an ATR was(!). I then asked them what they thought an ATR was. I got responses that basically boiled down to 'heaven on Earth'. I was incredulous. I said I'd be happy to speak to her about the reality of being an ATR, but that based on her reaction, she already had a good idea.

     One of the teachers actually congratulated her on the last day of school on becoming an ATR. She looked like she wanted to strangle him. She never did seek me out, but as of late I have seen many versions of her voiced opinions and those of other teachers published. Published by those that hate public education. There seems to be a marked indifference to these ATR stereotypes from teachers and the UFT. As a teacher do you realize you can become an ATR once your salary becomes prohibitive to a projected budget? What is the inference, when the UFT stays silent during these attacks? Does the UFT understand these attacks are in fact on all NYC public school teachers? It is high time for all teachers and the UFT to recognize that ATRs are teachers and should be afforded the same respect and rights as every other UFT public school teacher.

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Stories herein containing unnamed or invented characters are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.