Not from the Onion: NYC to stop paying teachers to do nothing

The city will end the practice of paying teachers to play Scrabble, read or surf the Internet in reassignment centers nicknamed "rubber rooms" as they await disciplinary hearings, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the teachers union announced Thursday.

The deal will close the centers, where hundreds of educators spend months or years in bureauratic limbo, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year.

This part is so 'not making this stuff up':

The nickname refers to the padded cells of asylums, and teachers have said the name is fitting, since some of the inhabitants can become unstable.

"There are fights among teachers because some teachers are nuts," said Leonard Brown, a high school teacher who spent four years in a reassignment center in Queens. "They put crazy people in with very sane people."

More here.  Hat tip: Andrew.


Here's a New Yorker article about the system:

This American Life did a story on this a few years back. At the time, a documentary film was in production on the matter; not sure if that ever got made, but perhaps the bad press is responsible for this change? Well worth a listen regardless.

"NYC to stop paying teachers to do nothing"

Not so fast:

Under the agreement with the United Federation of Teachers, most of the teachers will be given administrative or nonclassroom work while their cases are pending.

Likely translation -- the 'rubber room' was generating way too much bad publicity, so the new system will be to distribute these teachers around the system (so they'll be hard to find) and give them BS make-work to do (so they'll look busy if anybody does manage to find them).

My brothers went to classical high school in Providence RI, fondly remember as the School for the metal ill (long pause) teachers.

Drunks and sexual predators "work" in the Los Angeles "rubber room" for decades ... earning full salaries and getting credit toward their (fat) retirements.

Never "work" outside the rubber room gain -- right up to the point where they begin collecting their government pensions.

Completely agree with Slocum. The Times reporters and editors are astonishingly naive.

Obviously this is not a great system, but one has to think of why it emerged.
There is a lot of pressure for principals to put away teachers who are suspected of endangering children. The most obvious example is threat of sexual harassment. Obviously a lot of teachers are sent away on the basis of thin evidence...

In a certain central bank in a certain emerging market that's a favorite among "savvy" investors, those "reassignment centers" would be called *pigpens*. Since staff couldn't be fired, troublemakers would be sent to a pigpen, so they could enjoy free coffee, free internet access, free crosswords, free newspapers, etc. By staying in the pigpens they at least wouldn't bother people that thought of work as calisthenics, since it wasn't every a necessity anyway.

Check out this comment on this post:

Its amazing what people will accept when they think they are getting it for free.

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