As philanthropists and civic leaders hail Mayor Bloomberg’s role in “reforming” the New York City public schools, here is the story of a teacher who describes the past dozen years from a different perspective. When the mayor closed schools, experienced teachers lost their jobs and joined the ATR [absent teacher reserve] pool, a large number of floating substitutes without permanent assignments. Their relatively high salaries made them undesirable as permanent hires.

The teacher writes:

“I have seen my 20 year career as a High School Art teacher (yes I consider myself extremely lucky to still have a teaching job and not be an ATR) go from teaching a wide range of classes in a High School with a thriving Art Major program that allowed my students to take the NYC Comprehensive Visual Arts Exam and use it to help obtain an Advanced Regents Diploma (my school was intentionally and methodically destroyed by Mayor Bloomberg’s selective policies of allowing only special education and ELL students to attend so that he could phase it out, pour millions of dollars into a complete interior and exterior make-over, and fill it with small High Schools that are all failing) to teaching only Required Art at another school. My students are smart enough to know that our futures as teachers and the future of our school depend on their progress and often tell me and my colleagues that “we cant fail them because we will lose our jobs”.

“To further my humiliation, my current school has been identified as failing because again only special education and ESL students are admitted and held to the same standards as general ed students, and my evaluation will be based on how students who I do not even teach score on the NYC ELA Regents, a subject I don’t even teach. This past week was probably my worst as a teacher in my entire career, consisting of incredible amounts of stress and disrespect from students, who I refer to Dean’s and Guidance for intervention, to no avail. They are returned to my class the following day after cursing me out and leave my hands tied as to how to teach the students in my class who want to learn and succeed.

“The reform movement has taken a job I loved and enjoyed and turned it into a complete horror, to the point where I wake up in the morning and dread going to work. My thanks to Mayor Bloomberg, and State Ed Commissioner John King for abusing (yes, abusing) both my students and myself. Thanks also to the author of the Common Core and Ms. Charlette Danielson, who are both rolling in money meant to improve students lives. Their work has done untold damage to students and teachers across the city, state and country. Ms. Danielson’s “Framework”, which consists of a rehash of all the things good teachers have been doing from the beginning, and which was intended to help teachers hone their craft, is being used as a weapon against teachers as part of the evaluation process (I have heard rumors that she is suing the DOE. I hope they are true).

“I am confident that at some point soon my school’s budget will no longer be able to support me and I will be excessed and replaced with a teacher fresh out of college with none of the experience that I bring to the classroom on a daily basis, but with half the salary (or less).

“I will end my career as an ATR, my life made intentionally so difficult that they assume I will retire. I have news for them. I WILL NOT be bullied and have been paying into the 25/55 plan so I can get away as soon as possible from a job and career that I loved and that never failed to be fulfilling on a daily basis. Teachers are strong and we will survive (except for the one that replaces me, who will quickly become disillusioned and leave the profession completely for a job where she will earn more money and be respected for the work she does).”