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700 NYC Teachers Paid To Do Nothing

From a seemingly surprised Associated Press:

700 NYC teachers are paid to do nothing

By Karen Matthews, Associated Press Writer – Mon Jun 22

NEW YORK – Hundreds of New York City public school teachers accused of offenses ranging from insubordination to sexual misconduct are being paid their full salaries to sit around all day playing Scrabble, surfing the Internet or just staring at the wall, if that’s what they want to do.

Because their union contract makes it extremely difficult to fire them, the teachers have been banished by the school system to its "rubber rooms" — off-campus office space where they wait months, even years, for their disciplinary hearings.

The 700 or so teachers can practice yoga, work on their novels, paint portraits of their colleagues — pretty much anything but school work. They have summer vacation just like their classroom colleagues and enjoy weekends and holidays through the school year.

"You just basically sit there for eight hours," said Orlando Ramos, who spent seven months in a rubber room, officially known as a temporary reassignment center, in 2004-05. "I saw several near-fights. ‘This is my seat.’ ‘I’ve been sitting here for six months.’ That sort of thing."

Ramos was an assistant principal in East Harlem when he was accused of lying at a hearing on whether to suspend a student. Ramos denied the allegation but quit before his case was resolved and took a job in California.

Because the teachers collect their full salaries of $70,000 or more, the city Department of Education estimates the practice costs the taxpayers $65 million a year. The department blames union rules.

"It is extremely difficult to fire a tenured teacher because of the protections afforded to them in their contract," spokeswoman Ann Forte said.

City officials said that they make teachers report to a rubber room instead of sending they [sic] home because the union contract requires that they be allowed to continue in their jobs in some fashion while their cases are being heard. The contract does not permit them to be given other work…

Some other school systems likewise pay teachers to do nothing.

The Los Angeles district, the nation’s second-largest school system with 620,000 students, behind New York’s 1.1 million, said it has 178 teachers and other staff members who are being "housed" while they wait for misconduct charges to be resolved

New York City’s reassignment centers have existed since the late 1990s, Forte said. But the number of employees assigned to them has ballooned since Bloomberg won more control over the schools in 2002. Most of those sent to rubber rooms are teachers; others are assistant principals, social workers, psychologists and secretaries.

Once their hearings are over, they are either sent back to the classroom or fired. But because their cases are heard by 23 arbitrators who work only five days a month, stints of two or three years in a rubber room are common, and some teachers have been there for five or six.

The nickname refers to the padded cells of old insane asylums. Some teachers say that is fitting, since some of the inhabitants are unstable and don’t belong in the classroom. They add that being in a rubber room itself is bad for your mental health.

"Most people in that room are depressed," said Jennifer Saunders, a high school teacher who was in a reassignment center from 2005 to 2008. Saunders said she was charged with petty infractions in an effort to get rid of her: "I was charged with having a student sit in my class with a hat on, singing."

The rubber rooms are monitored, some more strictly than others, teachers said.

"There was a bar across the street," Saunders said. "Teachers would sneak out and hang out there for hours."

Judith Cohen, an art teacher who has been in a rubber room near Madison Square Garden for three years, said she passes the time by painting watercolors of her fellow detainees.

"The day just seemed to crawl by until I started painting," Cohen said, adding that others read, play dominoes or sleep. Cohen said she was charged with using abusive language when a girl cut her with scissors

We thought this might make a break from the appalling news from Iran. But we are not too sure this is much of a respite.

This travesty represents just about everything that is wrong with our education system in a nut shell. And at the heart of it all – surprise, surprise – is union thuggery and bureaucratic stupidity.

Why have the unions imposed such preposterous rules? And, on the other side, how much could it cost to hire a few more ‘arbiters’ – and to have them work more than five days a year?

Surely it would save more than what it costs to have so many teachers sitting on their hands at $70,000 a year.

A student holds a self-made picket sign to protest the decision that disallowed students who failed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exam (TAKS) from taking part in graduation ceremonies.

Still, some might argue that we are all better off with these teachers being paid to do nothing rather than teaching what they teach.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

31 Responses to “700 NYC Teachers Paid To Do Nothing”

  1. neocon mom says:

    We can only expect to see more of this during the Bammy years.

    And you are right about bureaucratic stupidity + teachers’ unions = this sort of b.s.

    Teachers who face abuse and assault from unruly students are allowed to respond within a very small, ineffective and illogical set of parameters. Why doesn’t the union fight this a little more tooth and nail, rather than spending time and resources protecting those who can’t seem to resist felonious behavior?

    Government controlled anything + unions=permanent mediocrity

  2. proreason says:

    How can anybody want the government to do more? Everything it touches turns to shit.

  3. MinnesotaRush says:

    “New York City’s reassignment centers have existed since the late 1990s, Forte said. But the number of employees assigned to them has ballooned”

    Go figger .. paid to do nothing .. OR .. put up with the little monsters in the classroom and work .. hmmmmmmmmmmm!?!?!?

    How do they handle this in the private sector??? And it costs what???

    No wonder New York (and plenty of others) are going broke, or are broke!!!

  4. wardmama4 says:

    Does that woman’s sign say – Let Are Kids Walk?

    Yeah, after seeing the sign – maybe it is a good thing to let the rotten ones sit in a room all day.

    Get the unions out of education (and auto making and the medical professions and the food industries and oh well, you get the idea) – as our children deserve the best education in the World and not to have the insane, the pedophiles and the stupid – teaching them simply because some strong armed union thug got a toe hold into the profession. Public does not mean indoctrination – it means everyone – even white employed heterosexual Christians.

    • Liberals Demise says:

      You know, WM4 ……. those are fighting words to a progressive flaming homo with a mommy syndrome and all the other libtards with built up angst against working class sane human beings!!

    • Steve says:

      “Does that woman’s sign say – Let Are Kids Walk?”

      It’s photo from a student protest reported here:

      FW students protest TAKS decision | Latest News | WFAA.com

      The students didn’t qualify to graduate, but they wanted to go through the ceremony anyway.

    • One wonders why they didn’t graduate, with english skills like that.

    • proreason says:

      “The students didn’t qualify to graduate, but they wanted to go through the ceremony anyway.”

      Just like our president!!!

    • Colonel1961 says:

      ‘Let are kids walk.’ That pretty much sums up the state of public education and the importance of that education in our lower echelon homes/families. Until those on the bottom rungs realize that education is an integral part of success, they will only continue to wallow in the slop of victimhood. It’s their choice…

      Are I write, or is I wright?

    • Reality Bytes says:

      Whachu Talkin’ Bout Willis?!

  5. BigOil says:

    The DNC should use this story as the basis for a campaign slogan. ‘Rewarding incompetence – your Democrat party working for you.’

  6. Chinnubie says:

    This is just a huge reason to destroy the Department of Education and give back local control of our schools. What’s even funnier they keep saying they can’t find money to fund health care, well isn’t this a perfect example of government waste that if run efficiently could make up money that would be available to do all of their pie-in-the-sky programs.

    Sorry, I wrote an oxymoron I placed efficient & government in the same sentence.

  7. VMAN says:

    Can anybody tell me what president started the department of education?

  8. Reality Bytes says:

    “My union boss drives an Xcaldaid & all I got is dis damn T shirt Yo!”

  9. catie says:

    Well, I have never taught in a state where we were compelled to join the NEA. I have always made sure I only worked in a “right to work” state because there is no way in heck that I want anything to do with the union thugs. I had to deal with them in high school when I worked at a grocery store. I also avoid “union shop” grocery stores as well.
    This isn’t surprising that they have useless teachers taking up oxygen in some little room. There are plenty of bad teachers out there but let’s not forget there are wonderful ones as well.
    As for these miscreants who didn’t pass all the exams and cannot “walk the stage”-boo hoo. Why wouldn’t these kids not believe they should walk, they’ve gotten trophies and were passed on every single year these kids were in school. When they first started that when I taught in FL the proverbial you know what hit the fan. They relented and let them walk the first year but warned them that the next year would be different. There was all kinds of outcry from the students and their useless parents (this was the first time they actually were involved for most of these parents) at school board meetings in August because they knew their loser kids wouldn’t be able to pass the tests. Eventually they came up with a plan that pleased just about everyone but most of the teachers. They decided in my county to let the kids walk regardless if they passed or not and give them the faux diploma as they walked the stage. The parents didn’t care if they passed for the most part, they just wanted to whoop and holler when Junior’s name was called.

    • jobeth says:

      “There are plenty of bad teachers out there but let’s not forget there are wonderful ones as well.”

      Amen to that. But how ridiculous that not only the sorry teachers get paid for doing nothing, but the good teachers only get paid for doing a job that is now twice as hard. Someone has to take those students…guess who it is? Of course it’s the over burdened good teachers who do it the right way while the others play card games.

      Talk about life not being fair!

  10. Reality Bytes says:

    Just saw a pic of Perez Hilton’s bloodied mug on Drudge! At least there’s some good news out there.

  11. katmeredith says:

    Jimmy Carter created the Department of Education in 1979 (it started actually doing something in 1980). That’s only 3 years before I was born (I went to private school, that’s why I can figure that out). By the time I was in 4th grade (I would’ve been 9, that’s only 12 years), the public schools in most states were generally known to be a waste of money, dangerous and uneducational. That’s quick work! And people say the government isn’t efficient.

    As to the article, when I was in public school (briefly, thank G-d) in GA, they had something called ‘In-school suspention’ for students who misbehaved. Essentially, the same thing as this article but for kids: a student comes to school and sits in a special room and does whatever they want for 3-5 days at a time. Amazingly, there were alot of repeat offenders. Even then, I expected some sort of outcry about how this was a waste and foolish and not at all helpful to anyone, but shockingly, that never happened and I believe ISS continues to this day.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      katmeredith, I subbed in the public school system in Phoenix when I got out of the USAF in the 90’s. Yup, ISS was still going on. Additionally, subs, usually the object of much ridicule by the students, were also the object of much ridicule by the teachers. Very protective of their turf, they are.

      One social studies class, which belonged to the coach of the football team, had all the obnoxious jocks in it and while they acted up, I wrote each and every one up. The teacher had given me no lesson plan, no instructions of any kind and nothing to teach. So, out of revenge, I found his stash of cookies and let the kids eat them. They made a mess in the classroom but I failed to care.

      I was never asked to sub for his class again but when I did go back to that school for another class, he confronted me in the teacher’s lounge and threatened me. So I said, “well, here’s the deal, sport, we’re gonna take this to the principal and if I don’t get satisfaction, I’ll take it to the local news channels. They love to hack on football coaches anyhow. And before you go chewing my ass, why don’t you chew out your precious little football players who displayed remarkably little discipline in my class and no respect towards me. And by the way, I have no dreams of becoming a teacher, especially one like you. I have far more important things to do other than daycare”.

      He was fuming….I said, “let’s go take it to the principal. He wouldn’t come with me. But I told the principal what I told the social studies teacher and also said that I’d better get some sort of satisfaction from being threatened by him.” I got a written letter of apology from the guy and I wrote back that he could stick it up his you-know-what”.

      Fortunately, I found steady work after that and never looked back. But I subbed at a lot of schools and though some were better than others, they were all broken. Focused on “outcome-based” education where the A and B students are largely ignored, accolades minimized for excelling and the lesser-achievers were praised just for showing up to class.

      Not like when I was in high school…not one bit. The main problem I had was that the students were in charge, and they knew it.

      So, the trend will continue and permeate throughout the nation as it’s doing now.

      I am fully expecting that the nation that had the greatest minds on Earth that put men on the Moon, has been on a steady decline since then and now is at risk of being divvied up by selfish special interests that will destroy it.

      Wished it would’ve begun after my time on Earth…but sadly I have to witness it in my middle-age.

      Still thinking of moving.

    • proreason says:

      “Still thinking of moving.”

      Rick Moran of American Thinker had an article today about how far along the US is with Socialism already. He lists 8 or so countires that have less than 40% of the economy controlled by the government and Australia is one of them.

      I lived in Australia for a year, and it was great.

      Thinking about it myself.

      If Universal Health Scare passes, the US will be in the tank for at least 20 years.

      And as we all know, the inmates are running the show now anyway.

    • beautyofreason says:

      ISS does continue to this day.

      LOL. I received in – school suspension for skipping school when I was a high school student in FL (almost a decade ago). Not that excuses work, but I skipped classes because I was afraid of being around other people and bullied, plus I didn’t find the courses challenging. I eventually went to a private school and graduated with a 3.7. It was so much better than the “you’re a number” public system.

      The concept of putting a troubled kid in a room for a day, doing nothing for hours of a time, is absolutely ridiculous. It means wasted time, no actual help to the student or their education. I suppose they do it because it’s cheaper. And they just expect the trouble makers to drop out when they hit 16, so why make the effort?

  12. beautyofreason says:

    “Judith Cohen, an art teacher who has been in a rubber room near Madison Square Garden for three years, said she passes the time by painting watercolors of her fellow detainees.”

    Three YEARS? They couldn’t resolve this in under a week? Over such a tiny squabble? Paid full salary for sitting in a room? What a joke….

    I went to a private middle school, without a union, and when one teacher was accused and charged by the police with the rape of a young student (later found guilty), he was quickly fired…not put in some “rubber room” to play scrabble for three years…

  13. joeblough says:

    I had assumed till I saw the article that this was an expose on what goes on in the classroom.

    (Surprised that joke wasn’t taken already)

    But seriously 700 parasites at the rate of 70K apiece ?!?!?!

    That’s 49,000,000 smackers for Christ’s sake!

    You could open a whole private school franchise for that much money and come up with a healthy profit.

    How far do we let these smiley-face nazis go before some serious butt gets stomped?

  14. jobeth says:

    My granddaughter was an ESE student in a special class here in Florida where her teacher spent all day either on line or on the telephone…The aids actually delivered what lessons that were given. And they were not directed at a child’s learning level.

    Their classes are much smaller than the normal class. You would think she would have more time per child.

    You wouldn’t need to SEND her anywhere. She made her own “reassignment center” in her classroom.

    Parents and the aids complained but of course she was a UNION member! In fact she was made the lead teacher of the ESE classes and made a ton of trouble for another teacher for having a “craft club” on her own, where she had the students learning to measure and read instructions and to make judgements about their projects. This was NOT in the usual course of instructions for these kids.

    My granddaughter hated this woman’s class. Even she was bored…with a learning challenge she was bored! My husband and I had a big meeting with about 15 people there, including the board of ed rep and another old teacher of my granddaughter’s, We were able to finally get her transfered to the teacher who got in trouble for actually TEACHING! The kids all loved her and loved her classes. She had to pay for her competence though. The other stupid teacher gave her constant grief.

    Sooo….you don’t have to be “reassigned” to get paid for doing nothing. You just have to be a union member and the right color.

    BTW they HATED “No child left behind”. Surprise!

  15. jobeth says:

    Whats with the woman sitting on the floor, just to the left of the smiling woman? Is she drunk or wallowing in a drug high? Wonder if she has a cup in front of her….And this thing teaches?!

    And why are’t these deadbeats at least pushing papers, or painting something…like walls. Oh, yeah…I forgot..Unions.

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