News & Politics

Bad Teachers in Limbo: New Yorker Weighs in on ‘Rubber Rooms’


This week’s New Yorker has an excellent piece on the city’s pathetic “rubber rooms” — where incompetent teachers rot (with pay) as the city tries, in vain, to fire them, a nearly impossible task under the current teachers’ union contract.

Writer Steven Brill (yes, that Steven Brill) points out that one case alone has provided a year of testimony — longer than even capital murder trials — and despite mountains of evidence of a teacher’s complete ineptitude, will still not likely result in her firing.

Two years ago, the Voice took its own shot at the rubber rooms and found many of the same conditions, pointing out that there had to be a better way to end disputes about bad teachers…

Brill points out that the union’s byzantine contract is up for renewal this year, and that school chancellor Joel Klein should push for
changes that will eliminate some of the red tape preventing the culling of incompetents.

Our Wayne Barrett said something similar in May, pointing out that with a third term virtually assured, Mike Bloomberg
can forego sucking up to the union, the United Federation of Teachers, which he’s done in both previous election years.

Wrote Barrett: “He can, as he did in 2005, ingratiate himself with the union, which would help him run up the score in a race he’s regarded as
certain to win. Or he can risk a few percentage points and insist that the teachers’ union help him make real structural changes to the city’s
schools in a new collective bargaining contract.”

So that’s two local publications urging Bloomberg to push the UFT to change nonsensical rules. Care to pile on, Times?

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 25, 2009

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