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The 'Rubber Room'

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Ever wonder where teachers go when they’re bad—or even, apparently, when they’re just accused of making a mistake? In New York at least, they go to the “Rubber Room.” According to a New York Times story by Samuel G. Freedman, the city's Department of Education runs 12 teacher “reassignment centers”—essentially holding pens for some 760 educators awaiting rulings on termination actions brought by schools administrators. While some of the teachers assigned to the centers have been accused of assault and other crimes, Freedman says, others are there for seemingly far lesser serious reasons, such as receiving unsatisfactory evaluations or making a profane comment to a student.

The accused teachers are paid their full salaries, but must report every school day (sometimes for years) to their center, where they are prevented from doing much of anything. For security and administrative reasons, they are not allowed to leave personal belongings overnight. The "rubber room" Freedman visited had “no windows, no land phone, no Internet access, no wall decorations, not even a clock.” Though designed to hold 26 people, it was filled with more than 75 teachers. “There is a spirit of the K.G.B. about it,” says Ivan Valtchev, an art teacher from Bulgaria who has not yet received a formal letter explaining why he was terminated. “The main strategy is to destabilize the person, reduce his self-respect.”

Indeed, Freedman questions the constitutionality of the way the teachers are treated: “the stale, Spartan conditions and the absence of any physical or intellection stimulation provide a ceaseless reminder that in some respects they are guilty until proven innocent.”

5 Comments

Even after you have received your "chareges" (being late, not having a student bathroom pass, etc.) the administrative process takes forever. I will be "celebrating" my 2nd anniversary in the RR this November. No end in sight.

Even after you have received your "chareges" (being late, not having a student bathroom pass, etc.) the administrative process takes forever. I will be "celebrating" my 2nd anniversary in the RR this November. No end in sight.

Fox News is producing a report about "Rubber Rooms". We are looking to do interviews with teachers who are presently assigned to the rubber rooms.

Additionally if you have any pictures that you can share with us showing the conditions of such rooms we would be very interested in using them for our report.

Our deadline is this coming Thursday morning (26th) so if you are interested please shoot me an email.

Thank you for your time.

Ben
[email protected]

I am a detainee in one of the rubber rooms and it it is very difficult to express how negatively this imprisonment has effected my life and the lives of others. It will make two years soon. I don't want anyone else to be subjected to this. Before being exiled in a rubber room, I never knew these places existed. I would not banish my worst enemy to a rubber room except for maybe chancellor klein, mayor bloomberg or even randy weingarten

Dear,
While preparing for my 7 and a half minutes of fame on Montel William’s Air Across America Radio show yesterday, May 8th, I checked out your article on the Rubber Room. Would love to talk about it.
My self-published, first person point of view novel, Confessions of a Rogue Teacher(iUniverse, 2008), takes the reader through its Dantean Labyrinth.
Though my fictional protagonist Manuel Quesada has some of me, it’s not me. I wrote a novel, not a memoir. A memoir holds faithful to events, often stranger than fiction, and characters, often bigger than life. A novelist creates his own universe, rearranging the world and altering time to better tell a story. But my universe conforms to real life and a world more real still, peopled by true flesh and blood characters, some rogue teacher, not all good or all bad.
Don Quixote is and isn’t Miguel de Cervantes. Huck Finn is and is not Mark Twain. Manuel Jesus Quesada is and is not George Colon, though there’s a lot of Jorge in him, Papo from the South Bronx.
Mr. Colon never physically fought a student after his first year, when he was jumped outside South Bronx High School while trying to stop a fight. Mr. Quesada does in his twentieth year. Mr. Colon came close in the last of his very difficult thirty years – but never did, as many colleagues did.
Unlike Mr. Quesada, Mr. Colon overcame the temptations of flirting female students and controlled his own passions – unlike many of his colleagues.
His emotional involvement with students and fondness for own words did land him in the Rubber Room of lore and legend where rogue teachers go when plucked from the classroom and assigned administrative work. After the bureaucrats decided he didn’t pose a threat to children, Mr. Colon returned to a classroom, without having to stir.
His UFT lawyer took care of everything and Mr. Colon enjoyed his R and R from the great school wars, shuffling papers, doing crossword puzzles, reading novels and working on his other novel, Blair House. No lessons to plan, no papers to grade. Not a bad life, really, although he did yearn for chalk dust. He even got a bonus when payroll failed to deduct the many sick days he took and he wound up with a little extra cash on his retirement this past June. And yes, the system paid a substitute while he took his rest.
Rage at indignities suffered at the hands of a troubled student and the indifference of administrators and deans overcome Mr. Quesada, unlike Mr. Colon, and the bureaucrats yanked out of his classroom. Unlike Mr. Colon, he goes on a downward spiral and in a weakened state, he can’t resist the temptations of his teacher’s pet. Like all protagonist, Manny Quesada must resolve his own problem.

Attach, find bio and sell sheet. Thanks.

George Colon

851A Underhill Avenue Confessions of a Rogue Teacher
Bronx, New York, 10473 IUniverse.com
Home: (718) 892-5169 1-800 - AUTHORS
[email protected] Amazon.com


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