The AP has a story about the New York City school system’s “rubber rooms” — the places where hundreds of teachers facing disciplinary hearings wait, doing no work but drawing full salaries. Sometimes this can go on for years.
Because the teachers collect their full salaries of $70,000 or more, the city Department of Education estimates the practice costs the taxpayers $65 million a year. The department blames union rules.
“It is extremely difficult to fire a tenured teacher because of the protections afforded to them in their contract,” spokeswoman Ann Forte said. [...]
Many teachers say they are being punished because they ran afoul of a vindictive boss or because they blew the whistle when somebody fudged test scores.
So the teachers blame the schools, the schools blame the teachers. Buried deep in the article, however, the real culprit is briefly mentioned:
Once their hearings are over, they are either sent back to the classroom or fired. But because their cases are heard by 23 arbitrators who work only five days a month, stints of two or three years in a rubber room are common, and some teachers have been there for five or six.
So why don’t they just hire a bunch of full-time arbitrators? Given the millions of dollars of potential savings, it seems silly not to hire the needed personnel.
There’s an compelling episode of “This American Life” focusing on life inside teacher purgatory.