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In debate over position-less teachers, myriad opinions

The debate over what should happen to teachers whose permanent positions have been cut hinges on the question of why they haven’t found another job within the school system.

Chancellor Joel Klein says teachers in the costly Absent Teacher Reserve pool have been rejected by principals and so should be dropped from the city payroll. The union says the teachers are mostly older and aren’t being hired because schools would have to pay for their higher salaries.

Who is right? According to principals and teachers who recently left comments on GothamSchools, neither. 

A principal said he’d be happy to hire from the ATR pool, if only its members wanted to work for him. He wrote:

The DOE subsidizes the ATRs so heavily that they are no more expensive than the most junior teachers, so the argument that their salaries are an obstacle to hiring doesn’t really hold water. Those salary protections hold for eight years. So this is an opportunity for principals to hire experienced teachers for a bargain. … I called hundreds of people to fill two vacancies last year and barely anyone even had the courtesy to return my call.

But a commenter who goes by the nickname “Invictus” said the situation isn’t so straightforward. He wrote:

There are many reasons why teachers who are ATRs choose to either interview or decide to ignore interviews. In my own experience, I have followed every lead, every call with a reply and a direct talk to the APs who called looking for staff. Nevertheless, it is difficult for teachers who live in certain boroughs to interview and go to certain locales. Manhattan based teachers can pretty much travel everywhere, but teachers in the outer boroughs are stuck applying to school either in Manhattan or anywhere near.

Invictus reports that he finally landed a manageable job after one year in the ATR pool — but that he’s now at risk of having his position cut again because his new school is one of the ones the city is trying to close.