That’s what the city plans to tell those of you who became Assistant Principals in recent years. That’s what it also plans to tell teachers who want to become Assistant Principals in the next few years. The city’s labor and education departments have decided that teachers who become Assistant Principals have not worked “continuously” and therefore are not eligible for the lump-sum payments earned during their many years without a contract. Teachers will receive these payments through the new UFT contract.
Putting aside the illogical construct that working for the same city, for the same department and, very often, in the same school is not “continuous employment,” what kind of educational philosophy is this?
“We want those teachers who show leadership skills to enter the supervisory pipeline, but sorry – you’ll have to take a hit to your pocketbook to do so.”
We've all heard Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña on the subject as well: They both believe that school leaders should come from the ranks of experienced NYC teachers. Most CSA members were delighted when Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña expressed their beliefs, because they were so obvious and important to anyone who’s ever worked in a school.
Why are we punishing those of you who wished to stay in the city’s schools but move into a new and more challenging role? Why should a teacher, who’s been working years in a classroom, have to decide between a new position and up to $50,000 in lump sum payments? Why would we ask them to leave behind earned income that could take care of the down payment on a home or a year or two of college tuition for a child?
The city claims that once a teacher becomes an Assistant Principal, he or she will have the chance to make up the money because APs make more than teachers. Huh? Of course they will and should make more in their supervisory role. They have more responsibilities and accountability. Second, it’s not a matter of making it up – this is money these educators have already earned. Lump sum payouts are another name for retroactive pay, raises that are given retroactively for past service.
That’s how we do business in NYC. Contracts expire and we, school employees and others, keep working knowing that past raises will be given to us eventually. It’s been like this for decades, and never before has it been an issue.
But the city is changing the rules for teachers who want to become Assistant Principals and then in many cases rise to the rank of Principal. We’re going to penalize them instead. The city’s unreasonable stance creates flawed educational policy. It will discourage teachers through the life of the new UFT contract from looking beyond the classroom to, perhaps, leading a school. It will make the job of Principals harder as they search for seasoned educators to fill open Assistant Principal positions. It will further decrease the pool of qualified supervisory talent. It's a policy that we, in NYC, cannot afford if we’re serious about reinvigorating our schools as collaborative partnerships with our communities and with each other.
This column was printed in the October 2014 CSA News.