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Jobless Teaching Fellows rally at Tweed as firing deadline looms

People inside Department of Education headquarters weren’t the only ones fretting about the possibility of losing their jobs today.

Afraid they’re just a month from being laid off, a handful of new Teaching Fellows who still haven’t landed positions in schools gathered on the steps of Tweed Courthouse tonight to demand a meeting with Chancellor Joel Klein.

The teachers are seeking, at a minimum, an extension of the deadline to find a permanent position. Newly hired teachers without jobs on Dec. 5 will be removed from DOE payroll, a condition they agreed to when they accepted their job offers this summer.

A security officer stopped the teachers at the door, but a DOE employee spoke briefly with the group and instructed them to contact the chancellor in writing. She took a signed letter and at least one of the teachers’ signs, saying she’d pass their message on to Klein.

According to DOE spokeswoman Ann Forte, 115 new Teaching Fellows are still without jobs, down from 139 in mid-October. Teachers tonight told me they are working as substitutes and assistants while they seek permanent positions.

Earlier this week, the executive board of the United Federation of Teachers set Nov. 24 as the date for the delegate-mandated rally to support teachers in the Absent Teacher Reserve. ATRs are experienced teachers who lost their positions when their schools were phased out.

The UFT says it has also filed a grievance on behalf of new Teaching Fellows without jobs, who are not technically ATRs because they have never held a job in a New York City public school. But a Teaching Fellow who has worked to organize Teaching Fellows without jobs said the teachers aren’t putting much stock in the UFT. “At this point, this is just about the DOE,” he said.

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