Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Teachers in Purgatory

New York City has the largest school system in the US, with enrollment of over 1,100,000 students and employing approximately 80,000 teachers.
At any given time 600-900 public school teachers, on full salary, are spending their days--not in their classrooms-- but in the RUBBER ROOM.

I heard this story earlier this year on a podcast from This American Life and was stunned.

The true story of little-known rooms in the New York City Board of Education building. Teachers are told to report there instead of their classrooms. No reason is usually given. When they arrive, they find they've been put on some kind of probationary status, and they must report every day until the matter is cleared up. They call it the Rubber Room. Average length of stay? Months, sometimes years.

Jeremy Garrett is making a documentary about The Rubber Room.

check it out.

and there's this-- how the system that was designed to bring teachers into a classroom to educate, guide and model proper behavior to students ends up creating teachers who are put in a situation where they will undeniably end up like their worst students. And paid the whole time.. to the tune of more than 36 million dollars a year.

Teachers Imprisoned In "Rubber Rooms" by Polo Colon

For years, teachers have been dreading the specter of having been relegated to the rendition of persona non grata personified in the prisoner-in-the-rubber-room condition (video produced by Norm Scot at the September Panel For educational Policy meeting, showing Betsy Combier and Polo Colon).
As captive of this euphemistically named "temporary reassignment center", or "TRC", some have entered into depression of various depths and intensity, so much so, that some even entertain thoughts of suicide. Others can no longer sleep well anymore and their personalities have changed so dramatically that their relationships with others have been negatively affected. Marriages have collapsed while a spouse is imprisoned in a TRC, simply because of emotional instability caused by the restrictions in the room.
Rubber Room inmates have squabbled with one another as they have become both more defensive and more paranoid than ever. As undiagnosed newly paranoid schizophrenics, the damage done by the demoralization of being subjected to this psychological atrocity is manifested and/or responded to in diverse ways.
Some good and well-meaning victims of this incredibly dastardly plan called "reassignment" have answered back with apathy and a sense of futility in a mental mode resigned to allow whatever happens to happen, which usually means that they get "done in" , in due time, by Principals in collusion with the Department of Investigation, who always come up with 'evidence' and 'witnesses' that are never verified.
And on a whim from these incompetent administrators-gone-wild, the Rubber Rooms are over-flowing with victims from a system that chews them up and spits them out, so much so that the latest reports are that they (the DOE) are now keeping teachers at their schools, while awaiting hearings on incompetence charges, because they have run out of room in the Rubber Rooms.
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