Monday, April 19, 2010

The Good News Is The "Rubber Rooms" Are Closing. The Bad News Is That Teacher Due Process In The 3020-a Process Remains Unchanged

The demise of the "rubber room" is a great victory for all reassigned teachers, regardless how people feel about the union leadership and their exclusive (secretive) negotiating techniques. However, to claim it was a "pure win" for the reassigned teachers as a very respected blogger claims is quite an exaggeration. Nothing in this "rubber room agreement" makes the 3020-a process any more fair than before. Let's look at why the reassigned teacher still must deal with the unfairness of the 3020-a process.

Unfair Investigations:

There are no changes to how investigations are done. When a Principal goes after a teacher the final result is the teacher is removed. I have previously wrote about these unfair investigations Here, Here, and Here. An independent investigator would make this a fairer investigation and would require the teacher to fully participate in it.

No Consequences For "False Accusations":

The agreement does nothing to ensure that either the DOE or UFT go after administrators or students that were found to have given "false accusations" against a teacher, despite language to do just that in the previous "rubber room agreement". To date, no Administrator has been disciplined for giving "false accusations" against a teacher.

The Expansion Of The Hated & Unfair "Probable Cause" Provisions:

The awful "probable cause" provision was expanded to include violent assault. Despite Leo Casey's advocacy for this provision, mere hearsay is enough to get a teacher offline for up to three months. Now we are adding another accusation to remove more innocent teachers.

Shortening The 3020-a Hearing Process:

You might think that this is a good thing. However, there is real concern that the hearings, with their stringent timelines could pressure Arbitrators from hearing character witnesses for the teacher because of the requirement of meeting the timelines (teacher witnesses go last). The hasty hearing process may turn out to be unfair to the teacher.

Arbitrator Selection:

The NYC 3020-a process is inferior to the State 3020-a process because teachers do not have the right to refuse an Arbitrator (the State allows this). Furthermore, for incompetence cases, one Arbitrator, rather than a three Arbitrator panel is used to hear teacher incompetence cases. More about this issue can be found Here.

Overall, it was a win for the reassigned teachers but a "pure win"? Sorry, I just don't buy it.

Thanks South Bronx for the use of your picture.


Anonymous said...

Bingo! This weekend I blogged about that issue where principals who falsely accused a teacher or came up with questionable trumped charges, go about their day unscathed! This is utterly a slap in the face of justice. Principals who willing lie/cheat/connive should be removed for harming/jeopardizing the career of a teacher.

jd2718 said...


"pure win" in the sense of not losing anything. And we didn't. We won without giving up.

All of your points are well-taken. I know full well there is much that needs to be addressed, but is not addressed in this agreement.

But it ends the Rubber Rooms. I have read at least five knee-jerk bloggers who make that fact, the central fact, a footnote. They ignore the real benefit, and spin hypotheticals and potentials into "sellout"?

You might disagree that I chose the word "pure." But we both know we have a win.


Michael Fiorillo said...

Two additional points:

1) Teachers who return to their schools for endless lunch duty and potty patrol are likely to be persistently humiliated in ways large and small, and treated like pariahs.

2) The expedited procedure is going to work against teachers: they will have only ten calendar days to gather evidence and respond in their defense once charges have officially been made. The structure of the proceedings is going to favor the DOE.

But what does Unity care? They got this bad PR monkey off their back (seemingly unaware that Murdoch and Zuckerman will create others). Based on their treatment of members in the rubber room over the years, they seem to believe that most of the people in this purgatory are guilty anyway.

After all, innocent people don't get arrested, right?

moriah said...

I am glad the Rubber Rooms will be closing, but I am under no illusion that things will get better for the detainees. I predict we will be humiliated and/or given boring administrative jobs. I agree that we will forced through the system faster. However, we will be more visible. While we were warehoused at full salary, people on the outside felt justified in ignoring us based on the fact that we were getting paid for doing nothing all day. Now the machine will gobble up more and more people faster and faster. I hope that this will lead to greater resistance as every teacher realizes that he or she is at risk.

Anonymous said...

What is so good about ending the 'rubber rooms'? They were simply DOE's warehouses for accused and mistreated teachers. Now they are to be dissolved and the accused and mistreated teachers will be sent elsewhere.
The rubber rooms had become an expensive and public failure in the DOE's war on teachers: Teachers were not retirng or resigning upon arrival in the rubber rooms.
By keeping the anti-teacher processs DOE can continue to mistreat teachers. I think UFT missed an opportunity to extract concesstions on the teacher abuse process itself.

Anonymous said...

Nowhere in any of the reporting or commentary has the corrupt policy of shaking down members forcing them to pay thousands to return to their profession been stated. How many teachers, counselors, secretaries etc.. were forced to fork over tribute stipulation agreements) to this corrupt administration. That is a number that should be publicized by the UFT against Klein to off set the groundswell he is trying to create against the ATR's. NYSUT must have the dollar value extorted from the members during Klein's TENURE as Chancellor.

Anonymous said...

The pay-for-play scheme orchestrated by DOE has always been a sad and ignored joke.
Someday I will figure out when it began and why NYSUT has never fought it.
I still can't begin to fathom who buys the construct that fining a teacher for a pedagogical issue helps anyone. Can we fine arbitrators who make bad decisions? They would think that was ridiculous. Can we fine our NYSUT lawyers? Can we fine the UFT when they make a short sighted rubber room agreement (again).

Anonymous said...

It has been the pattern for the Dept to put the reassigned teachers back to their original schools when the principals and the dept intended to set that teacher up to fail or build a better case against him or her.
That tactic was used selectively in the past, with the current agreement the dept expends the same tactic of setting up to fail to many more teachers.

Chaz said...


We did allow the DOE to expand the "probable cause provision that take teachers offline for up to three months. Furthermore, Michael Ftorillo does bring up potential problems with the agreement. That is why it is not a "pure win".

Anon 12:32

I did write about this back in 2008.

Anonymous said...

Chaz I am referring to the recent press and the rubber room issue. It is an issue now with regards to exposing their corruption as a tactic to smear their policies and minimize their public appeal which will aid the ATR plight. Surely, the UFT/NYSUT has the numbers as they represent the vast majority of members forced into stipulation agreements which spell out the $$$$ members have to fork over. And of course the DOE held harmless.

Anonymous said...

I still don't see where the win is. The victory for teachers was in Florida where they staged a sickout and the governor vetoed a bill that would have ended tenure for new hires.