Advocates looking to keep the teachers in the city’s Absent Teacher Reserve out of classrooms say Chancellor Fariña hasn’t said enough about her plans for those teachers.
Testifying before the City Council two weeks ago, Fariña said that there will be “no forced placement” of teachers in the ATR pool, which is made up of teachers without permanent jobs. (Most teachers in the ATR pool joined when their positions were eliminated because of budget cuts, changes at their schools, or school closures.) She was responding to reports that the city was considering a reversal of its current hiring practices, which require a mutual sign-off from the principal and the teacher.
Today, the heads of StudentsFirstNY and TNTP say they want further assurances that the city is not considering any limitations on who principals can hire. That includes being required to hire only from the ATR pool—an arrangement they say could still be described as “mutual consent hiring” but in practice would be closer to forced placement.
“This appears to be a game of semantics,” said Jenny Sedlis, the head of StudentsFirstNY.
The city said it was anything but.
“We’ve been clear that we believe in mutual consent hiring and that we oppose forced placement of teachers in the reserve into schools,” Department of Education spokesman Devon Puglia said.
The timing of the criticism indicates that the details of the city’s plans for the Absent Teacher Reserve will continue to receive heavy scrutiny as the city negotiates a new contract with the teachers union. Both StudentsFirst and TNTP have long criticized job protections currently enshrined in the teachers union contract.
The back-and-forth also illustrates how even basic facts about the ATR pool are contested or unclear. The city said recently that the pool includes 1,200 teachers, though a spokesman for the UFT said that number was no more than 1,000 today.