Emptying New York City’s Rubber Rooms: Pay a Fine, Teach Again


The Department of Education recently returned 474 local teachers to the classroom in an attempt to rid New York City of the infamous “rubber room” sitters, in which educators accused of misconduct sit around and do nothing while collecting a full paycheck. The New York Post reports today that 159 disciplined teachers paid fines — some as high as $15,000 — to get back to work. Some were still ordered to training or to be tested for alcohol and drugs, but many just handled something “like a parking ticket,” with the average charge coming to $7,500.

“Teachers who are guilty of wrongdoing or incompetent in the classroom can buy their way back,” said one opponent. “The whole process is a joke.”

And yet, the city prefers it to spending “tens of thousands of dollars,” according to the Post, on a single incompetence hearing. Instead, teachers can admit they’re incompetent — settling, in effect — and then agree to take some college classes to brush up on their skills, making their way back to the front of the class in no time.

That said, signing a settlement that admits some form of wrongdoing makes it that much easier to fire these teachers in the future, so no one wins really.


This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 11, 2011


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