Wednesday, December 16, 2009
My Response To Mayor Bloomberg's Speech On How To Solve the "Rubber Room" Overcrowding, The ATR Crises, & Tenure. Part 1: The "Rubber Room" Problem
We all know how Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein wants to solve the "rubber room" overcrowding, the ATR crises, and make tenure more difficult. However, their idea is quite different than our union or mine for instance. According to Michael Best, the head of DOE legal services, all teachers accused of incompetence or misconduct will be taken off payroll until their hearings and if found innocent, will get their jobs back. Of course that is unrealistic and violates the State's "due process" law. Therefore, in this post I will tell you how to eliminate the "rubber room" overcrowding back to the pre Bloomberg/Klein era when only teachers subject to criminal or serious sexual issues were removed. During the days before Bloomberg and Klein the amount of teachers removed ranged from 80 to 100 teachers, now the figure is between 600 and 700, a sevenfold increase and costing the DOE 60 million dollars annually.
Presently, a teacher just needs to piss off a Principal to find that teacher removed to the "rubber room". Since the Principal only has the removed teacher on her budget for sixty days after his removal and if the teacher is older and makes a high salary the temptation to remove the teacher is very real. Even teachers who are subject to OSI and SCI investigations have frivolous charges filed as both investigative agencies start the investigation with the presumption of teacher guilt and the teacher is not given a fair investigation and any innocent or defensive action is interpreted as "proof of guilt". Therefore, to stop the abuse of both the corrupt investigative process and the release of the vast majority of the "rubber room" teachers, I propose the following process.
First, any teacher who is not arrested for criminal or sexual issues could only be removed from his or her assignment after a three person mediation panel, paid for by both the DOE and UFT, interviews the major players, including the accused teacher to determine the seriousness of the charges. If the three person panel agrees that the charges are both real and serious. Then and only then can the DOE remove the teacher from the school. If the three person panel decides that the charges have been embellished, distorted, perverted, or false and does not raise to the level of serious. The Principal can only give the teacher a letter to his or her file. This would limit the "rubber rooms" to the serious cases.
Second, to ensure a fair investigation, a UFT assigned investigator will work with the DOE investigative agencies to determine the extend of the alleged teacher misconduct. The UFT assigned investigator will sit in on all witness interviews and will write their own report. If the UFT assigned investigator report is at odds with the DOE investigation report, both reports will be given to the three member panel as evidence for determining the level of seriousness of the charge and the removal of the teacher to the "rubber room".
Finally, the three member panel can also recommend action be taken for administrative misconduct when it is discovered that the charges against the teacher are bogus, discriminatory, or greatly exaggerated. Fines against the administrators can be issued when the three member panel determines such administrative misconduct.
While some of you may disagree on my recommendations. It is certainly a first step to bring real sanity into the "rubber room" process.