Tuesday, October 02, 2007
New York City Paying 757 Teachers To Do Absolutely Nothing, And Even The United Federation Of Teachers Doesn't Like It
KFQD's conservative talk show host Dan Fagan, who has the highest ratings of any talk show host in Anchorage, is fond of complaining about unions. He frequently pans the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and a provision in one of their contracts that a worker who is required to work on his birthday will get paid triple-time.
But at least the IBEW worker will actually work for that triple time.
This is not always the case for New York City teachers. Currently, 757 of them - paid from $42,500 to $93,400 a year - report each day to a facility called a "rubber room". At 9 A.M., they punch in time cards or sign time sheets, and then do absolutely NO WORK for the whole day. Seven hours per day, five days per week. Some immediately pull out crossword puzzles or books. Some knit. Others hold golf-putting contests. One takes out his guitar and strums. One day last week, another, wearing a leotard and tights, spread out on the floor and stretched before practicing ballet against a wall in a corner. They'll bring in lounge chairs to recline, talk on their cellphones and watch movies on portable DVD players, according to interviews with more than 50 employees. One teacher, 62-year old David Pakter, has been in a rubber room for a year for buying a plant for his school and giving students watches he'd made. Click HERE to read three-page original story in the New York Post.
And why is this? It's because the Department of Education (DOE) says it's handcuffed by a clause in the teacher contract saying rubber-room residents cannot be given any "non-teaching duties", even though the president of the United Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, does not object to such teachers being given administrative duties, and has expressed an active interest in further compromise to fix the system. The city once assigned teachers in this predicament administrative duties, but that ended with the 2002 school reorganization when district-run "rubber rooms" were turned into larger, citywide cells. Note: The United Federation of Teachers is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers rather than the National Education Association.
But how do teachers end up in this predicament? Any Department of Education employee accused of official wrongdoing - ranging from buying a plant for a school against the principal's wishes to inappropriately touching a student - are suspended from their normal jobs. However, they cannot be laid off either with or without pay, and they cannot be fired pending an investigation.
In an investigation inside the nine reassignment centers called "rubber rooms" where these employees are sent, the New York Post has learned that the number of salaried teachers sitting idly waiting for their cases to be heard has exploded to 757 this year - more than twice the number just two years ago - at a cost of about $40 million a year, based on the median teacher salary. On top of that, the city pays millions more for substitute teachers and employees to replace them and to lease rubber-room space.
And why are these investigations necessary? Some say the teachers themselves are to blame - their union contract requires a hearing before any tenured employee can be fired. "The reason the rubber room exists is because of worn-out and, quite frankly, irrelevant union contracts that do more to protect people's jobs than they do to protect kids," said Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, based in Washington, D.C.
Adding to that issue is the fact that the 20 arbitrators who review cases meet, on average, five times a month, or twice a month in the summer, making for a painfully slow and inefficient system.
Meanwhile, some teachers feel they're being attacked in a "guilty until proven innocent" atmosphere in which more powerful principals can easily remove teachers who question the system and students can easily get teachers they don't like removed by making up accusations. As a result, the union now counsels its members to avoid becoming too involved - including even in breaking up student fights - because it could land them in a rubber room.
"Teachers are scared. The system wants to cover itself, not protect us," said Lenny Brown, a physics teacher who landed in the rubber room over accusations that he touched a student's breast in front of the class - a charge he vehemently denies.
Commentary: This is no surprise. In most schools, the students are considered equal to the teachers in status and authority. Case in point: The Voice of Deseret blog is reporting on an incident in Holladay, UT, where a bunch of middle-school kids started acting up aboard a school bus. The driver snapped, verbally "aired them out", and now the students are exacting revenge by claiming the driver made "racist" remarks. And you know what? The Granite School District is bowing down and kissing the kids asses, while threatening to fire the driver.
But teachers unions don't just hinder education by featherbedding and inaction. They also undermine education through the imposition of political correctness and full-blown social engineering. In June 2006, during their national meeting, the National Education Association overwhelmingly passed a resolution endorsing homosexual "marriages" and adoptions in states where they are already legal. The resolution was a watered-down version of an earlier one that would have endorsed same-sex "marriages" everywhere. However, the clear-cut intent is to mainstream homosexuality.
One of the recommendations is for "gay," lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues be required content for teacher credentialing. Teachers would be forced to undergo sensitivity training concerning homosexuality before they could be certified to teach. The resolution recommends that "NEA advocate for the inclusion of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender issues in the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) teacher education program review process." The NEA has already contacted NCATE about this.
Peter Brimelow was right. Teachers' unions are probably the biggest "worm" in the proberbial apple.