Friday, December 11, 2009

NYC Teachers Sue for a Pass Out of Rubber Rooms

Pictured left: Cell phone photo from a Queens, NY Rubber Room
While this blog is dedicated to inspiring teacher stories, I'd be remiss if I didn't post this story about K-12 teachers who believe they are being unjustly treated:

BROOKLYN (CN) -Some 2000 schoolteachers say New York City is discriminating against them by confining them on trumped-up charges in infamous "rubber rooms" until they retire. Rubber rooms are study hall-like places where teachers are paid full wages to do nothing -- sometime for years. Continue reading -

I stumbled across the rubber room issue when selecting the title of my book.
In my book Intro:
Rub·ber Room (noun)
A confining mind-set where thoughts and possibilities bounce aimlessly

In my book Epilogue:
Rub·ber Room (noun)
An isolated place where schools send unruly teachers awaiting disciplinary proceedings

After the fact, I dug deeper into the NYC Rubber Room problem, and discovered some reasons (justly and possibly unjustly) that teachers get sent there. One of the biggest issues is how long teachers must wait until given a due process hearing to get reinstated (they are suspended with pay until a resolution). Though my book has nothing to do with the NYC Rubber Room issue, a couple of months ago I wrote this letter to provide moments of levity for Rubber Room occupants awaiting a hearing:

September 28, 2009

Michael Mulgrew
President, United Federation of Teachers
52 BroadwayNew York, NY 10004

Re: The Rubber Room New Yorker article – Your Letter to the Editor

Dear Mr. Mulgrew:

I am a Queens, New York native (PS 184, JHS 194, Bayside HS) and a Legal Studies professor at Georgia State University, who read your Letter to the Editor in The New Yorker with great interest. One of the most telling quotes in Mr. Brill’s piece concerned the city official’s statement: “Our standard is tighter than ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’.”

I had never heard the term “Rubber Room” used in the school system context, until I started researching the title of my enclosed book, Unlocking Your Rubber Room (2009). The reason I am writing is because I am interested in supplying each borough’s “Rubber Room” with a copy of my book (at no cost).

Unlocking Your Rubber Room is a humorous look at law and life (Sections I & II), with my bent perspective on the justice system (Section III). I believe that the book would help Rubber Room occupants maintain or regain perspective as they await their hearings. If anything, the book’s title and content would offer some needed levity.

Please let me know if you have any thoughts on how to accomplish the above task. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Perry Binder

Mr. Mulgrew's Letter to the Editor of The New Yorker
Brill captures the Kafkaesque quality of Rubber Rooms, in which teachers linger while the Department of Education ponders accusations against them. Read more:

Postscript: To date, I have not heard back from Mr. Mulgrew, but a couple of people are attempting to assist me and get free copies of my book into the five NYC Rubber Rooms.

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