Apparently not yet shamed by the series of reports (NYT, Daily News, NY Post) on New York City’s rubber rooms where, under union rules, roughly 700 teachers collect salaries for not teaching with an estimated annual cost of over $60M, Randi Weingarten wants to add some more bodies:
Randi Weingarten, both the head of the national AFT and the local president of the New York teachers’ union, the UFT, is the unexpected heroine for nearly 90 alternative certification teachers hired through the New York City Teaching Fellows program. Less than 24 hours before these teachers–all newly hired but still unplaced in any school–were to be terminated, Weingarten filed a lawsuit to prevent them from losing their salaries. Accordingly, a judge granted an injunction, keeping the teachers on the payroll until an arbitrator can rule on the merits of the case.
These new teachers were supplied under a contract between the district and The New Teacher Project (TNTP) with the stipulation that they would be terminated if they failed to secure a job by December 5 of this school year. In past years, only a handful or two of teaching fellows were unable to secure jobs, but the figures this year proved much higher, mostly because principals were more cautious about hiring in the face of looming budget cuts.
With so much positive news recently in education, it is hard for me to contemplate that advocacy for this practice continues, much less than it is portrayed as courageous (thefawning* excerpt is from the National Council on Teacher Quality’s newsletter). There are several areas in which I support union positions (discipline policies foremost), but I find this misguided and shameful.
This is being billed as the odd combination of UFT acting in support of TNTP, but I see no evidence that TNTP cares for the union position. If TNTP wanted their fellows in a position where they would be paid if not selected to teach, they would have advocated for it in their contract. Indeed, TNTP has numerous policy positions, including this report, that stress hiring decisions must be made by both principal and teacher.
One can imagine the disappointment of some of these young teachers, who undertook a program which included the promise (but not the guarantee) of a job – disappointment no doubt similar to training programs in a number of industries in our constricting economy. One wonders how many of these teachers would be hired if UFT and New York had the flexible rules TNTP advocated that allowed principals more latitude in selecting who deserved to be in their classrooms (and who they could kick out).
One wishes that the hundreds of thousands of dollars the UFT is now asking to be spent on salaries for teachers who are not working could instead find their way to the classrooms for the many students and families who lack resources. One wonders how these new teachers feel about a compensation and tenure system that values seniority above all else, and is determined to protect its workers at the expense of providing for students. One wonders how many of them will be content to not teach and be paid while there are so many other ways they might contribute.
*UPDATE: A reader with NCTQ assures me that the praise here was satiric, and cites NCTQ’s consistent opposition, including this piece.