Yahoo News reports on a series of “rubber rooms” in New York, where schoolteachers awaiting disciplinary action get paid $70,000 or more to sit around and wait. Stranger than fiction:
Hundreds of New York City public school teachers accused of offenses ranging from insubordination to sexual misconduct are being paid their full salaries to sit around all day playing Scrabble, surfing the Internet or just staring at the wall, if that’s what they want to do.
Because their union contract makes it extremely difficult to fire them, the teachers have been banished by the school system to its “rubber rooms” — off-campus office space where they wait months, even years, for their disciplinary hearings.
The 700 or so teachers can practice yoga, work on their novels, paint portraits of their colleagues — pretty much anything but school work. They have summer vacation just like their classroom colleagues and enjoy weekends and holidays through the school year.
“You just basically sit there for eight hours,” said Orlando Ramos, who spent seven months in a rubber room, officially known as a temporary reassignment center, in 2004-05. “I saw several near-fights. `This is my seat.’ `I’ve been sitting here for six months.’ That sort of thing.”
The teachers continue to earn their salaries while they wait, costing taxpayers an estimated $65 million per year, according to the article. Union rules require that the teachers “continue their jobs in some fashion while their cases are being heard.” Their contracts forbid them from getting other work, the AP writes.
Instead, many de facto imprisoned teachers do yoga, drink, write novels, plan holidays, and otherwise entertain themselves as best they can. Some have been inside for three years. Detention-for-teachers programs exist across the country, but they are by far worst in New York.