One of the most indelible images that education reformers once trotted out in the fight for increased teacher accountability were the so-called "rubber rooms" in New York City. The holding areas where teachers who weren't up to snuff or were accused with behavioral offenses, such as sexual harassment, passed the days doing crosswords or napping while still earning their salaries were the perfect illustration of how tough it was to fire ineffective and bad teachers. (Those of you who see Waiting for Superman will see it prominently featured.)
In April, the city announced that it would shudder the rubber rooms this fall. So, what happened to the teachers that would normally go to pass time while they awaited judgement on whether they were going to be terminated or could return to the classroom?
According to a story in The New York Post last week, the one-time molders of young minds are doing scut work in school district offices or the Department of Education's food services arm. The head of the United Federation of Teachers says that nearly half of the 700 teachers originally assigned to the rubber rooms are now back in the work force doing administrative tasks.
Sure, they are effectively some of the most highly paid secretaries in the city, but at least we're getting something out of them.
Below is the trailer from a recent documentary called The Rubber Room.
Photo via The New York Post.