Rubber Room Doom
Finally, some progress has been made on this topic, which is one of the most egregious examples of what unions can do to a school system. This type of union abuse makes me so disgusted with our public school system! What a wasteful and shameful embarrassment for America.
From The New York Times:
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the city’s teachers union have agreed to do away with “rubber rooms” and speed up hearings for teachers accused of wrongdoing or incompetence, ending a disciplinary system that has made both City Hall and the teachers’ union subjects of ridicule.
Steve Ostrin, who has been in a reassignment center for more than five years, said closing them would be a “good thing.”
Under the agreement, teachers the city is trying to fire will no longer be sent to the rubber rooms, known as reassignment centers, where the teachers show up every school day, sometimes for years, doing no work and drawing full salaries. Instead, these teachers will be assigned to administrative work or duties outside classrooms in their schools while their cases are pending.
The centers have been a source of embarrassment for both the Bloomberg administration and the United Federation of Teachers, as articles in newspapers and magazines detailed teachers running businesses out of the rubber rooms or dozing off for hours on end.
“Given the amount of press that this subject as gotten, to say that this is a big deal is probably an understatement,” Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference announcing the agreement. “This was an absurd an expensive abuse of tenure. We’ve been able to solve what was one of the most divisive issues in our school system.”
Officials said the agreement would also shorten the time it takes for cases to be resolved by allowing more arbitrators to be hired and requiring them to hear cases more frequently. Cases that lasted several years could now be completed in months.
After removing a teacher from the classroom, Education Department officials will have 10 days to file incompetence charges and 60 days for charges of misconduct. Any teacher not formally charged within that time will be sent back to the classroom. In more serious cases in which education officials are trying to suspend a teacher without pay, the department would be required to file charges within three days.
As Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein has increased efforts to get rid of teachers the city deems ineffective, the number of teachers in rubber rooms has grown. There are now about 550.
Although the city has invested about $2 million in hiring more lawyers to help principals get rid of teachers, it has managed to fire only three for incompetence in the last two years.
The centers will not close until the fall, officials said, but they pledged to resolve all of the pending cases by the end of the year.
While the agreement may solve the thorny public relations problems for the city and the union, it does nothing to address the more costly absent teacher reserve pool, which consists of teachers who have lost their jobs because of budget cuts or when a school is shut down for poor performance, but have not been accused of incompetence of wrongdoing. Those teachers, who now number about 1,100, do not have permanent classroom jobs but draw full salaries.
Mr. Klein has pushed for the power to lay off reserve teachers, but neither the union nor state legislators has been willing to go along.
The agreement between the union and the city comes amid an increasingly icy relationship between Michael Mulgrew, the union’s president, and Mr. Klein. Despite the rubber room deal, there are no signs that they are any closer to an agreement on a new teachers’ contract.