By Ashleigh Costello
NEW YORK – Two years after New York City supposedly eliminated the infamous “rubber rooms” for teachers, more than 200 castoffs continue to sit in exile at a handful of schools.
Accused of incompetence or wrongdoing, a total of 187 tenured teachers and 20 other public school employees have been removed from their positions and “reassigned” to empty lounges until hearings are held to decide their fate, according to a report by the New York Post.
Banished from classrooms, most just sit around reading or listening to music, trying to pass the time—all the while collecting full pay and benefits.
That’s unwelcome news to taxpayers who’ve been told their schools are suffering from a budget crisis.
Francesco Portelos, a tech teacher at I.S. 49 Berta A. Dreyfrus school in Staten Island, has taken to blogging about his “temporary reassignment.”
In an entry addressed “Dear Taxpayers,” Portelos writes:
“So imagine this: We are getting paid, the substitutes covering our classes are getting paid, the investigators investigating our cases are getting paid, the lawyers working against and for the teacher are getting paid, the arbitrators hearing the cases are getting paid, and all with your tax dollars.”
According to a 2010 agreement between the United Federation of Teachers and the Department of Education, disciplinary decisions should take no more than 30 days after a hearing has ended. However, this agreement is often overlooked and rulings can sometimes take up to a year or more, reports the news site.
In the meantime, taxpayer dollars are going down the drain and teachers are placed in these rubber rooms—ahem, Temporary Reassignment Centers.
Although city officials and the teachers unions agreed to eliminate the rooms, absurd tenure laws make it nearly impossible to fire ineffectual teachers. Hence, it has become easier for the district to confine them to small areas until a decision is made.
Once again, the all-powerful teachers unions have gotten in the way of any meaningful school reform. Rubber rooms are only a small part of a larger issue. Taxpayers need to stand up and tell the teachers unions to abandon the ridiculous policies that make rubber rooms necessary.