Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rubber Room vs Teacher Reassignment


When I disappeared from my school, some of the other teachers asked the union rep where I had disappeared to.  The union rep replied that I had been "reassigned".  I met one of these teachers on the street shortly thereafter.  She said that the union rep had told her that I had been reassigned, but the parent coordinator was telling everyone that I had been sent to the Rubber Room.  She wanted to know which version was true.  You see, she thought that "reassignment" meant that I had transferred and was teaching at another school.  I told her that "Reassignment" meant being sent to the Teacher Reassignment Center, which was also known as the Rubber Room.  She looked horrified.

A few weeks later, a newly reassigned teacher was placed at our table in the empty seat in front of me.  There were a total of eight people at the table:  one at each end, and two at each side.  The newbie asked us how long it would take for her to be "reassigned" to a new school.  The reply was that it could take two years or more.  She looked confused--why does it take that long, she wanted to know.  Well, first you have to receive your charges, then meet with your attorney, then wait for a hearing date, and then go through the hearing.  Depending on the charges...Charges?  She hadn't done anything wrong.  Neither have we, we replied--you don't have to do anything wrong to be brought up on bogus charges and sent to the Rubber Room.  I thought this was the Teacher Reassignment Center, she said.  It is, we replied, but they also call it the Rubber Room.  She looked terrified.

Then she put her head down in her arms and started to cry quietly.

So, as you can see, there is a certain amount of confusion among the rank and file as to the relationship between reassignment and the Rubber Room, which means that teachers aren't really paying attention, aren't really doing their homework.  There are probably several reasons for this.  First, teachers tend to be very focused on their students and on the job of teaching them, and that is time consuming.  Whatever time they have left over is taken up with family, friends, and the courses they have to take in order to get a salary increase.  Second, they think that the Rubber Room is not about them; it's about bad teachers.  If they don't personally know anyone in the Rubber Room, they probably go with the New York Post version of Dirty Rotten Rubber Room Scoundrels.  Our union leadership confirm the major media version by not forcefully denying it.  Third, there is fear.  Outside the illusion of safety sustained by the bubble of their predictable classroom routines and schedules, lurks the Rubber Room bogey man, ready to pop out and carry them off--no mater how excellent their teaching skills, no matter how much they try to please the administration--and somewhere deep down inside, they know it.

Now Chancellor Klein and Michael Mulgrew have entered into an agreement to close the Teacher Reassignment Centers aka Rubber Rooms.  However, unless this agreement means that investigations will be carried out fairly and impartially, and that principals will be held accountable for bringing teachers up on bogus charges, then there will still be large numbers of reassigned teachers, and no matter where they are warehoused, they will still be in the Rubber Room.


Ricochet said...

When I read the news I put you and the others in the RR in my prayers. I hope this ends well.

Anonymous said...

What charges or penalties are imposed on the principal for falsely accusing a teacher and having the teacher removed unnecessarily?

If it's going to be fair, then the administrator must pay a fine, too!

moriah said...

Thanks, Rico, I hope so too.

Anon, there are no penalties.
I suppose that teachers can sue the principal in civil court, but since we are all paid our full salaries, it is difficult to demonstrate that we have sustained damages.

Anonymous said...

Klein has now solved his problem: The Rubber Room System was yielding public embarrassment and great financial expense rather than senior teacher resignations and retirements. The DOE aim remains the same: Induce the senior and/or outspoken teachers to leave the system. Perhaps by assigning some former inmates mind-numbing administrative tasks, embarrassing others by reassigning them as hall monitors in their old schools, and reuniting the remainder with their principal (no pun intended) tormentors... Mr. Klein will finally succeed.
By pretending the problem was the delay in justice rather than bullying principals, biased non-investigations, invented and exaggerated issues, etc, the UFT has cooperated with Mr Klein in solving his problem. There are so many concessations Mulgrew could have wrung from egg-faced Klein over Klein's the Palestinians it seems the UFT leadership never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

As for your situation it seems things will get interesting and might in fact get better for you!

Long Isand Educator

Anonymous said...

Loss of per session loss of the ability to advance in one's career.
The existence of a NYSED file with the 3020a record would destroy your ability to get another position in teaching.

Pain and suffering, malicious prosecution.

The people responsible for framing you and destroying your life have to be made to pay.

A lawsuit is a perfect mechanism to wreak absolute havoc in their lives.
If enough people sue there will be a chilling effect on this outrageous system.

Payback is a must, so as to prevent further graduates of Nazi
Academy from thinking that they have a free hand in destroying the lives of teachers.

Angry Nog

Anonymous said...

The UFT just sold us out big time. They do not have the lawyers to try these cases. They are not going to double the staff. The result will be less due process for teachers. This will result in more discharges which is what Klein wants. Not bad deal for Klein; he saves millions, by closing the rubber rooms and gets more discharges. Come up. Stand up and let the UFT know that you are mad and your not going to take it anymore.

moriah said...

I have always maintained that the real problem with the Rubber Room was the path that led the teacher there. No path, no people in the Rubber Room. Unity sat back and allowed its members to be bullied without mercy. I do not mourn the passing of these human warehouses. While we were there everybody ignored us.

Anonymous said...

"Closing the Rubber Rooms" means:

1. The present rubber room inmates will be grievously, and perhaps, fatally, hurt for the third time. No other group of educators has ever been tormented this way:

A. For months or years, your life was a living hell in your school building.

B. For months, or more likely - years - your life in the rr has been hell and torment.

C. Now, beginning in September, MUCH MORE and MUCH WORSE harm will be done to you in either:

a) Your hellhole of origin (the school that began it),or

b) A different hellhole of a "school" building, or

c) An office that is part of corporate Amerika. There are no district offices to be assigned to anymore.

The "Networks" that were formed under bloomklein will be 80+ in September, replacing and exterminating the DoE infrastructure. They are money-making operations, run by educational entrepeneurs and staffed by their cronies. The "Children First Networks" are semi-privatized entities that drain school budgets and oppress school staffs.

If you are assigned to a "district office," you will be made a lackey and office slave for corporate Amerika, for people sucking money out of schools. Any clerical work you are assigned (AND WHY WOULD YOU, A TEACHER, COUNSELOR, ETC., DO CLERICAL WORK???)will take money away from a true clerical worker who is now jobless. And, you will be licking the boots of, and maybe even being rated by another corporate vulture posing as a concerned "educator."

More soon.


moriah said...

Cayce: you will read all about my experience in stage "C" in detail right on this blog. Day by day. I am not bound by a need to protect the people that I am forced to work with/for. I did not feel that I should write about stage "B" while the Rubber Rooms were open, but now that they will be closed, I will begin writing Rubber Room anecdotes and stories.

I have been on the front lines of "A", "B", and now "C" since 2004. I have written in detail about stage "A". People have not paid attention. The Union left, right, and center chose to ignore the problem. When anyone mentioned the Rubber Room, they always prefaced any statement of solidarity with "SOME people belong there". That made everybody else guilty by association. Well now sit up and take notice, because our problem is your problem. If you have tenure, you have target on your back. Organize yourselves to fight back or get out of this system before your professional reputation is destroyed.

Chaz said...

Great post and very truthful. We need to let the DOE know we are not going to let them get away with their abuse of us.

moriah said...

Thanks Chaz,
Maybe we should make "Rubber Room II, the Saga Continues". Movies seem to get more attention than blogs.