Policy

New York's Reserve Army of Unemployed Teachers

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Not New York but Mr. Hand is still the man. And Fast Times is still Sean Penn's best work.

Brian Doherty details below how hard it is to fire teachers in the generally awful Los Angeles Unified School District.

Over at The New Republic, Seyward Darby chronicles how hard it is to fire New York City teachers who don't have any sort of permanent posting. They are the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) and they don't need no stinkin' classrooms:

They end up there after being displaced by school closings, program cuts, or voluntary transfers. Technically, they work as classroom substitutes, but, when they don't have temporary assignments, they spend their days in school offices, cafeterias, and break rooms. And they are not required to seek full-time positions. "Teach one year, get [displaced], never apply for another job, but, as long as you work as a sub at full salary, you can get tenure at the end of that," says Tim Daly, president of The New Teacher Project (TNTP), a New York-based education advocacy organization that monitors the reserve closely. And some ATR teachers, it seems, are content to stay right where they are. "I'm happy now," one such teacher told TNTP researchers. "I don't have to prep, I don't have to grade tests, I don't have my own class. I don't really have to do anything."

Over the last three years, the city has shelled out almost $200 million to compensate ATR teachers. This school year alone, in the midst of a recession, TNTP has projected the reserve will cost about $75 million. "I could use those [millions] to spend on early childhood education or to fund retention strategies to get our greatest teachers to stay," an official at the city's Department of Education (DOE) says.

The punchline? "The ATR is part of what was supposed to be an effort to free New York from the stranglehold its powerful teachers' union, the United Federation of Teachers."

More here.

Read "How to Fire an Incompetent Teacher," Reason's 2006 "epic spelunk" through New York City's godawful employment bureaucracy by John Stossel and Terry Colon.

Hat tip: Alan Vanneman.