Saturday, March 12, 2011

Some Questions On What Happened To The 744 "Rubber Room" Teachers. Do The DOE Numbers Make Sense?

Yesterday the DOE released some statistics on what had happened to the 744 "rubber room" teachers and broke them down. While some of the numbers seem to make sense, there are some questions about the numbers assigned to certain categories.

The New York Times, The New York Daily News, and the New York Post all had articles on the statistics and based upon what I had read, I must question some of the numbers that were assigned to different categories. However, let me first tell you which statistics appear to be correct.

The number of "rubber room" teachers was listed at 744. This number appears to be correct. Interestingly, both the DOE and the UFT had claimed the number was much smaller at the time of the "rubber room agreement". Both groups had numbers ranging from 550 to 650 respectively. I guess the DOE and UFT were embarrassed about the continuing increase in reassigned teachers as principals saw their last chance to get rid of the senior teachers they didn't want or like and get them off their payroll before the summer.

Also the number of teachers who were terminated, 59, or a 8% termination rate, at first glance this number seems to be a tad low when compared to the 10% termination rate on the average. In addition, I have seen about a 10% termination rate during my almost 5 year DOE incarceration. , However, some teachers who started their hearings probably were going to be terminated and took deals to resign or retire in mid-hearing and this group is part of the 121 who resigned or retired by now. Moreover, there are 83 cases unresolved and that if you follow the 10% termination rule you can add an additional 8 educators to the termination list. Consequently, the 10% termination rate average appears to be correct based upon the numbers.

What appears questionable is the number of teachers "cleared". According to the DOE numbers 200 of the 744 educators were "cleared" and sent back to school. However, this numbers appears to be deceiving. First, only 5% of the teachers who showed up in the Queens reassignment center were ever sent back without 3020-a charges and some of them did receive disciplinary letters and should not be considered "cleared". It is difficult to determine which group the DOE put these educators in but I must assume they were considered "cleared". Otherwise the discrepancy is even wider. Assuming the same 5% holds in the other TRC's that would come out to only 37 educators not 200. Even if you add the 4% acquittal rate, this would only add another 30 educators giving a total of 67. What accounts for this discrepancy? Maybe it is how the DOE uses the word "cleared". In some settlements the DOE drops all 3020-a charges and gives the teacher a "neutral recommendation" in exchange for the educator to resign from the DOE at the end of the school year (June 2011). This could account for the large discrepancy in the numbers since many teachers accused of PIP+ for example took such deals and have been returned to the classrooms to finish out the school year teaching and their career in the NYC Public Schools. Therefore, the DOE's definition of "cleared" can be misleading. It would appear that the DOE definition of "cleared" is very different then what you and I might think. By the way you are only really "cleared" if you are taken off the ineligible list for employment in the DOE and since the settlements say that you agreed to irrevocably resign or retire, you stay on the ineligible list forever!

It would be interesting if the DOE numbers were verified by the UFT/NYSUT and how they would break down the same numbers and why did they decide now to give them to the media?


Judaic Learning said...

The numbers seems to be a bit skewed, and of course since they were published in several highly read press sources there is reason to believe certain things would have be toned down to not cause alarm among NY education staff. Our thoughts are with the teachers whom are not sure of their next step.

Anonymous said...

What % of teachers entered into a stipulation agreement and paid a fine to return to work? Also, did they have their records cleared? Were they made whole after entering the stipulation?

Chaz said...

Anon 5:04

To the best of my knowledge approximately 50% of the teachers took a settlement.

As for being made whole. No chance. The record is not cleared and you are considered guilty by agreeing to a lesser charge. In fact, if you go into the another 3020-a hearing, the Arbitrator will tell you that you pleaded guilty and will use it against you.

The Veteran NY Teacher said...

Great analysis of the numbers. Sad to say almost all of the accused got hit with something. On the other hand most of the decisions seem to support the idea that very few of the accused should have been removed from the classroom . After much thought I have published my 3020a experience on the web...please take a look and feel free to comment- as a fellow 'survivor' I value your comments. It is hard to escape the stigma of an accused and reassigned teacher but the publicity helps to ease the anxiety. It is not so much having to explain to colleagues, parents and staff , although that is tough enough, it is those who don't bother asking you directly who cause the most stress.

Anonymous said...

From what I have seen in my 3 years at Staten Island TRC, it had to be over 70% of teachers who had been coerced to settle. I had only known less than handful teachers who believed in themselves and fought to the very end.

When an cloistered teacher, whom we are as a group, is locked in a room with two lawyers and an arbitrator, what are the odds for a teacher to hold his or her ground?

Chaz said...

Veteran Teacher:

It is true. Only the educators that went through the hearings really understand what is going on.

Of course, you are right about many of us should have never been removed. Except the real truth only comes out at the 3020-a hearing and we hear too many false lies from other teachers who take settlements that the Arbitrators are unfair. While the NYC version of the 3020-a makes acquittal nearly impossible, the Arbitrators are independent and are not anti-teacher.

Anon 11:24

Your % is probably true. I do know that Staten Island teachers took more settlements than the rest of the boroughs. However, the reason for this is that there was nobody I know who explained how it works and I am sure you had the same teachers who took settlements saying that if you don't take a settlement you will get terminated.This scares teachers to take whatever settlement is offered to save their job.

Anonymous said...

Nobody is right, there is nobody to explain to teachers as it is in nobody's interest to litigate to uphold the rights of reassigned teachers, and it is in everybody's interest to settle, namely to sweep all wrongdoings against teachers under the rug.

It is cheaper for UFT, it is too much work for NYSUT, it is convenient for DOE to cover all illegal activities, and it is too scared for many teachers.

A perfect way to get rid of senior teachers.

harvey said...

Maybe they will count 'higher than expected' numbers of retirements this June as reason to hold on to newbies. DOE knows some of those numbers will be from forced retirements from rubber room bogus witch hunts.

Anonymous said...

"To the best of my knowledge approximately 50% of the teachers took a settlement."

Chaz, where did this number come from? did you just make up 50%?

Chaz said...


You are correct. Many of these teachers cleared are from "forced retirements".

Anon 8:25

An educated guess based upon everybody I encountered in my four and a half years in DOE incarceration.