September 10, 2009
The latest ATR numbers are out, and they suggest a mass exodus has occurred in the last few days.
In the last two weeks, the so-called Absent Teacher Reserve pool has declined by about 300 teachers, a third of whom found work in the last two days. Earlier this summer, the Department of Education estimated that roughly 3,000 former teachers who had lost their jobs because of declining student populations or because the school was shuttered due to poor performance remained in the pool and on the city’s payroll. As of Tuesday, that number is down to 1,695.
The sudden increase in hiring could be attributed to principals who were holding out hope that the DOE would lift the hiring freeze, allowing them to fill empty slots from a wider selection of teachers. As the summer has worn on, the DOE did relax the freeze to allow principals more flexibility in hiring special education and science teachers, as well as teachers for gifted programs.
A spokeswoman for the DOE, Ann Forte, said that currently, there are 1,375 vacancies in the city’s schools, which is about the same number there were last September.
Though the reserve pool is, by definition, a place for teachers who once taught in the city’s public schools, this year the DOE made an exception and added 15 Math for America recruits. Forte said the recruits were given special dispensation because of their “highly specialized training.” Fellows in the program have to make a five-year commitment to teaching in public schools, in exchange for close mentoring and support from master teachers in the program. In May, the father of a Math for America fellow wrote to GothamSchools to criticize Joel Klein for instituting the hiring freeze so late in the year.