Wednesday, June 30, 2010

#4 We Are Treated As A Group, Not As Individuals

The building that we were in was not only dedicated to the Rubber Room, but to other student services as well.   A Rubber Room colleague told me that she overheard a conversation between a staff member and a parent.

"Do you see all of these people walking out the door?  They are teachers from the Rubber Room.  You know what that is, don't you.  Bad teachers are sent here and they sit around all day getting paid for doing nothing."

Another RR teacher told me that she overheard a group of people in the hallway who were headed to a workshop that was taking place on the same floor as the Rubber Room.  They were commenting that all the teachers in the Rubber Room were lazy good-for-nothings.

And if you have any doubt at all, go check out the comments to the article by Jennifer Medina titled, " Last Day of 'Rubber Rooms' for Teachers".   Each negative comment is a stone thrown at all of us, because we are all "rubberized".

Here's a taste of what some of these ignorant assholes have to say about us.  I've included replies that probably would not have made it onto the NY Times website.  

Tokyobound from San Francisco:  "can't wait for my taxes in new york city to go up again so that these lazy ingrates can get their pensions"

Ms Untamed replies:   Do so hope your plane doesn't crash in deep water, tokyobound.

Scarlett from Miami:  "Were any of them reading, or learning new employable skills?"

Ms Untamed replies:  Look at the picture, stupid.  Would you be able to read in that room with a person sitting in every chair while a novice guitar player tries to "learn an employable skill"?

Nat from Wilmington:  "The very concept of a "Rubber Room" is a shame on the entire teaching establishment and the teacher unions."

Ms Untamed replies:  Do your homework, Know-Nothing Nat.  Mayor Bloomberg established the Rubber Room, to get rid of teachers based on salary.   He can't do that legally--hence the bogus charges of incompetence and misbehavior.

Tenured Teacher from Los Angeles:  "It is embarrassing that these teachers were kept on with full pay."

 Ms Untamed replies:  Embarrassing to whom, Judas?   One of the tenured teachers in my rubber room was there because he patted a student on the shoulder and told her he was proud of her in front of a room of 30 other students.  When he was sent to the rubber room for sexual harrassment, his school's scores plummeted and a college level course that only he could teach had to be cancelled, never to be reopened.  I'm embarrassed by sanctimonious teachers like you.

I could go on and on, but it's really not worth it.  Nothing's sure but death, taxes, and idiots.

You know the old saying about shooting fish in a barrel?  Well we're the fish, and the barrel is the Rubber Room.  I don't know what's waiting for us in September, but I'm glad to be out of the Rubber Room barrel.

Moriah Untamed

Sunday, June 20, 2010

#3 The Rubber Room Sets Teacher Against Teacher

I will never forget the first welcoming words I heard in the Rubber Room.

  "Are you normal"?

What she really meant to say is, "Do you belong here"?

 Since I have been in the RR I have read these words from people who are criticizing the BloomKlein Department of Education:
"Of course SOME teachers should NOT be in the classroom, but..."
"Of course SOME teachers SHOULD be in the Rubber Room, but..."

It is scapegoating pure and simple.  Teachers are setting themselves against other teachers and constructing an US vs THEM divide within the profession.  This just makes it easier for BloomKlein to destroy the our union and the public education system.

But what I have found to be even sadder, is that Rubber Room detainees themselves do it to each other.

"She belongs here".
"That behavior is what got him here".

Why shouldn't they when the union leadership does the same thing.

"Everyone in the Rubber Room has done something.  Maybe not what they are accused of, but something".  These are words of a high-ranking Union official.

The notion that we are considered guilty by virtue of being accused of something, creates an atmosphere of shame and distrust that engenders a Rubber Room culture of fear, anger, and loathing.

The social norm in the Rubber Room is not the norm of the polite middle class society that we come from.  As soon as we come here, we make a few friends, then stake out our territory and defend it.  Why?  Because everybody else is doing the same thing.    I am told that this is how people in prison behave.  That makes sense, because, like prisoners, we are accused of wrongdoing, and we are no longer productive and respected members of society. 

We are OTHER. 

Wherever they send me in the fall, I will probably be treated as OTHER by those who are not under investigation, but that will be preferable to being treated as OTHER by those who are.  Up until now I have not written about the misbehavior of my Rubber Room colleagues because the only thing that would achieve would be for people to say,

"You see, that's why they belong in the Rubber Room and not in a classroom".

Why help BloomKlein destroy our reputations?  Why blame the victims?

But now that they are closing the Rubber Room, it is necessary to reveal how cruel and destructive it really was. 

Caged monkeys don't cooperate very well, but who can blame them?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

#2 Rubber Room Teachers are Not Normal

When I walked into the Rubber Room for the first time and sat down in my assigned seat, one of the women asked, "Are you normal"?

I answered, "That depends on your definition of normal".

A man laughed derisively.  "She doesn't even know what normal is".

Maybe not.  But I do have a picture of "normal" in my mind and it looks something like this:

In statistics, this is the classic bell curve, and no matter what is being counted--beans, babies, bobcats--it means that most of them are in the middle, or average.  Normal to me, means average. 

But we don't always want to be normal or average.  In school, it is good to get above average test scores, and bad to get below average test scores.   My position on the bell curve depends on which of my characteristics you want to count and which group of people you are comparing me to.

Compared to Average Americans, Rubber Room Teachers are not normal.

We are older than average.  A large number of us are in our 40's, 50's and 60's.
We're all college graduates.
Most of us have a least one Masters Degree.  Some have two.  Others have doctorates.
Many of us make more than $80,000 a year.
Most of us have spent 10, 20, even 30 years working for the same employer--the New York City Board of Education.
Most of our children go to college.
Most of us own our own homes.
Most of us were on fairly solid financial footing before we were sent here--good credit risks.  Many still are.
The vast majority have never been arrested or in trouble with the law--if they have been, that's why they are in the RR, and you've read about it in the newspaper.

That's not the norm for all Americans. But it is the norm for the solid American Middle Class.  If you compare us with Middle America, we are pretty normal.

However, if you group us with the families of the children we teach, we are not normal. We are way above average.

Perhaps some will find this statement offensive, but that doesn't make it less true.

Allow me to rephrase:

Rubber Room teachers have chosen to spend their lives teaching those who are socially and economically less fortunate than themselves, in hopes that their students will achieve a higher standard of living than their parents did. In doing so, RR teachers have reduced their own capacity to earn a salary commenserate with their education.

Compared to the Average Joe, this is not a very normal way to spend your life.

#2  Rubber Room Teachers are highly educated, dedicated professionals who deserve to use their skills rather than being warehoused and told that they are lucky to be paid for doing nothing.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

#1 Ghettos Are Bad

A ghetto is the real estate where a society isolates and segregates a segment of itself.  After a time, the people who have been confined there start to define themselves in terms of it.  Some actually like being there.  If they are to be ostracized, they reason, it's better to be close to others who are ostracized as well and to deal with those on the outside as little as possible.

Ghettos are created by sick societies as a way to redirect criticism, guilt, hatred, fear, and a host of other uncomfortable emotions onto a specific group of people. They are also created by ruthless leaders for the purpose of consolidating their power.  Having a group of targets in one location makes pogroms much more convenient and therefore much more likely.  Pogroms desensitize people over time to expect worse and worse behavior on the part of the larger society and worse and worse suffering on the part of the victims in the ghetto.

This can lead to genocide.

I am NOT saying that the teachers in the Rubber Room are about to be carted off to concentration camps and gassed.

I AM saying that New York City has created a ghetto and is therefore sick.

Ghettos are bad.
Societies that create ghettos are sick.
People who are isolated in ghettos are victims of a larger, sicker society.

The Rubber Room is a ghetto.
The Rubber Room is bad.
New York City is sick.
The teachers in the Rubber Room are victims of New York City's sickness.

On general principals, we cannot allow ghettos to exist.  We must fight to tear them down as they are built.  Life outside the Rubber Room might be more challenging and uncomfortable for the detainees, but there are better ways of helping each other than sitting together in ghettos.

Reason #1 to celebrate the closing of the Rubber Rooms:  GHETTOS ARE BAD.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Eleven More Days

I have never counted the days until the end of the school year until I could start counting them on my fingers.

Because of the ridiculous fact that we have to come back on Monday, the 28th, there are now eleven more school days until the end of the 2009-2010 school year; but what the heck, I'll start counting anyway. 

It's also eleven more days until the infamous NYC Rubber Rooms are closed forever--that is, if BloomKlein honor their word.  But that would mean that they would have to be honorable men, which they are not.

No one knows yet what will happen to the Rubber Room detainees;  not even, I suspect, BloomKlein.  Let's remember that the Rubber Room is not about real estate; it's about people whose professional reputation is under assault.

Nevertheless, I celebrate the closing of this chapter in BloomKlein's war on public education.  It's time to reflect on what they have done to us here, and what we have done to each other.