Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Friday, April 16, 2010 :::

Common sense takes a step forward in the New York City public schools:
The city will end the practice of paying teachers to play Scrabble, read or surf the Internet in reassignment centers nicknamed "rubber rooms" as they await disciplinary hearings, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the teachers union announced Thursday.

The deal will close the centers, where hundreds of educators spend months or years in bureauratic limbo, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year.

"It's an absurd abuse of tenure," Bloomberg said.

Under the agreement with the United Federation of Teachers, most of the teachers will be given administrative or nonclassroom work while their cases are pending. Teachers accused of serious charges including violent felonies will be suspended without pay.
The rubber rooms often house poor teachers regardless of actual misconduct; they aren't competent, but they can't be fired, so they get sent to their sinecure safely away from the students. It may be better than leaving them in the classroom, but it's expensive and, of course, offensive to justice.
The city has blamed union rules that make it difficult to fire teachers, but some teachers assigned to rubber rooms say they have been singled out because they ran afoul of a principal or they blew the whistle on someone who was fudging test scores.
I wouldn't mind a process in which a teacher stayed with the system until s/he had been fired by three separate principals or something; at some point, though, they should be fired from the system.* If that's not possible, at least having them do something potentially useful for their money an improvement over the status quo.

* Of course it's possible that they got three principals who are somehow unfair or have personality clashes with the teacher, even if the teacher might thrive with a different principal, in much the way it's possible for George Mason to make the final four. At some point I'd take the small risk of an injustice to a teacher than a large risk of a bigger injustice to students and taxpayers.


::: posted by dWj at 2:06 PM

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Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

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