October 22, 2012

"La Toilette"

"Accountable Talk Meets ATR"...Read about it here...

They say good things come in small packages. First day on weekly rotation and I've achieved the impossible...A KEY to the bathroom!...(and what a lovely bathroom it is). Could this be a sign of better things to come?

October 21, 2012

Out of the Frying Pan... Into the Fire

This blog began 6 years ago as a personal account of 3 long and painstaking years of incarceration in one of the NYCDOE's worst Rubber Rooms. This blog gave me a place to vent my frustration and retain my sanity. In return the support that I received from the EDU bloggers was priceless. I can safely say that one cannot imagine the emotional stress and everlasting damage that the DOE's reassignment process is capable of inflicting on a DOE employee and their family unless they have lived through it themselves. Three years after the DOE 'claimed' to have closed its Rubber Rooms, I and hundreds of union members are still suffering at the hands of the DOE and the Mayor's career ending and abusive policies. I say 'union members' because that's what we are. 

Subsequently, many of my fellow RR inmates paid fines to keep their jobs or were terminated as a result of unfair 3020A hearings. I say 'unfair' because without a 3 person panel as specified in the contract, there was only one arbitrator hearing and deciding the outcome of a case. First hand experience tells me that many of these arbitrators weren't very well versed in the field of "Education Law" which remains to be in a 'class by itself'.  Most teachers who survived the hearings managed to retain their jobs but were not returned to the traditional classroom setting that they once knew.  Instead, they were branded with a new scarlet letter known as ATR status(Absent Teacher Reserve). As the former Rubber Roomers joined the ranks of hundreds of excessed teachers from failed schools(schools that were set up to fail by the DOE),  the ATR pool quickly grew and now stands at roughly two thousand members. (The DOE / UFT will not reveal the actual numbers.)  Pick up the daily paper on any given day and you will read Bloomberg and a number of other politicians describe ATRs as 'no good', 'useless' and 'lazy' teachers who are not fit to be in the classroom. You will also notice the deafening silence and inaction of the UFT on behalf of the ATR. Hmmm. 2,000 plus tenured teachers/union members without actual classrooms and not a word from the UFT... while the  DOE disperses them throughout the schools within their districts to work as glorified subs. 

As an ATR, I feel compelled to resume my voice in the blogger community after struggling through a long and agonizing silence. 

December 10, 2010

TEACHER ABUSE...at its' worst.

How to Mismanage a School System and Blame it on Others...

And now the comments...

80.FidgetyTeachNY December 8th, 201012:09pm It never ceases to amaze me how uninformed and naive the public is. They are still buying into the lie that it is the teacher's fault for having to sit and wait at the taxpayer's expense. This is just what the the Dept. of Ed. wants you to believe- when in reality it is the DOE and NYSED who are not paying the arbitrators to submit their findings and final judgements on the 3020a hearings.
It is not the choice of the reassigned teacher to sit and do nothing. It is the DOE's goal to get the teachers so bored and frustrated that they want to give up, admit guilt, settle or resign instead of waiting for a hearing. Those who sit it out and wait for their hearings will be most likely returned to their classrooms and found not guilty.
Recommended by 10 Readers
8.machvelianNew YorkDecember 8th, 201012:49 amI want the propaganda against teachers to end. What are the statistics of "guilty" verdicts against teachers accused of crimes...NYT had access to this information, yet chose not to publish it? From inside the system, I've been told most are falsely accused, yet this article spends most of the time profiling people in a display of typical lazy journalism (see the past 20 articles about Cathy Black).
Simply, I would like a true profile piece on this arbitration process and the results...enough of the tales told by a select few.
Recommended by 63 Readers

SARCASM...(BETTER THAN ANGER!)12.PeterQueensDecember 8th, 201012:49 amThis is what an underfunded education system looks like - inefficient. The alternative is allowing principals to fire teachers for basically no good reason, something in which I'm sure the incoming chancellor sees no problem.Oh, more cuts coming? Great.
Recommended by 17 Readers
SOMEONE WHO KNOWS...(COULDN'T HAVE SAID IT BETTER MYSELF...)16.HIGHLIGHT (what's this?) middlesex nj New Brunswick, NjDecember 8th, 20107:56 amWhat's nauseating is people assuming that those accused of wrongdoing are guilty before being proven so. It is not the fault of the teachers that the process takes so long. It is not the fault of the teachers that no one can bother to find meaningful tasks for salaried professionals. If the teachers are eventually found guilty of wrong doing, then of course they should be let go. Until that happens, the trash talk is pointless right wing blathering and hatemongering.9(A LITTLE EXTREME...) If the administration still can't find meaningful work, the teachers should be suspended with pay put into escrow until the case is decided. (RIGHT TO THE POINT...)Meanwhile, how about trying to get rid of the incompetent administrators and politicians who can't fix or even put band-aids on a system that his been broken for ages.
Recommend Recommended by 55 Readers
67.FidgetyTeachNYDecember 8th, 201012:00 pmIn response to Juliet, Comment #17...Juliet states that, "Teachers who were placed in "Rubber Rooms" because of some kind of criminal behavior should not receive one penny from anyone.They abused their position and should be punished.People such as Ms. Combier who defend these criminals should not profit from this situation but should be reprimanded also!"

It is ignorant to assume that all teachers are 'guilty before proven innocent". The last time that I looked around we all lived under the constitution which entitles every US Citizen to a fair and timely trial where they are considered Innocent until Proven Guilty. I truly hope that you are never in a position where you are accused of an alledged crime and found guilty by a jury of peers such as yourself. Many of the teachers have been falsely accused of fabricated crimes and targeted by their principals because of their age, salary step or a simple disagreement with their administration. This is one way in which the newbie principal attempts to replace high paid tenured teachers with new inexperienced teachers that are paid one third of what an experienced teacher earns.(newbie principals following Chancellor's orders) Instead of being angry and ignorant, you might want to try becoming more informed about the process. It is easy to pass judgement with blind eyes. Betsy Combier has spent the last 7 years sitting in on 3020a hearings, visiting the Rubber Rooms and advocating for teachers who have been bullied by the DOE. I would respect your opinion if it were based on fact, however you haven't a clue as to what is really going on.
Recommend Recommended by 7 Readers

December 8, 2010

Nothing but the Truth

Applause to Sharon Otterman of the New York Times for writing a candid and unbiased, description of reality in the illusory World of the DOE and the Reassigned teachers. After the signing of the flimsy Rubber Room agreement between Mike Mulgrew and Mayor Bloomberg, the public has been mislead into believing that the Rubber Rooms have been closed and that all cases are being expedited as briskly as possible. The newspapers have done nothing but scapegoat and blame teachers for the DOE's failures. Ms. Otterman accurately quoted the telephone conversation that I had with her while travelling home from 65 Court Street in Brooklyn. Unlike the reporters that I've spoken to in the past, Ms. Otterman asked questions without trying to paint a negative picture of the Reassigned teachers. For now, Ms. Otterman has restored my faith in the press and receives a rare rubber stamp for reporting the truth. To be continued...

New York Teachers Still in Idle Limbo
Published: December 7, 2010

For her first assignment of the school year, Verona Gill, a $100,000-a-year special education teacher whom the city is trying to fire, sat around education offices in Lower Manhattan for two weeks, waiting to be told what to do.
For her second assignment, she was sent to a district office in the Bronx and told to hand out language exams to anyone who came to pick them up. Few did.
Now, Ms. Gill reports to a cubicle in Downtown Brooklyn with a broken computer and waits for it to be fixed. Periodically, her supervisor comes by to tell her she is still working on the problem. It has been this way since Oct. 8.
“I have no projects to do, so I sit there until 2:50 p.m. — that’s six hours and 50 minutes,” the official length of the teacher workday, she said. “And then I swipe out.”
When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg closed the notorious reassignment centers known as rubber rooms this year, he and the city’s teachers’ union announced triumphantly that one of the most obvious sources of waste in the school system — $30 million a year in salaries being paid to educators caught up in the glacial legal process required to fire them — was no more.
No longer would hundreds of teachers accused of wrongdoing or incompetence, like Ms. Gill, clock in and out of trailers or windowless rooms for years, doing nothing more than snoozing or reading newspapers, griping or teaching one another tai chi. Instead, their cases would be sped up, and in the meantime they would be put to work.
While hundreds of teachers have had their cases resolved, for many of those still waiting, the definition of “work” has turned out to be a loose one. Some are now doing basic tasks, like light filing, paper-clipping, tracking down student information on a computer or using 25-foot tape measures to determine the dimensions of entire school buildings. Others sit without work in unadorned cubicles or at out-of-the-way conference tables.
“They told me to sit in a little chair in a corner and never get up and walk around,” said Hal Lanse, a $100,000-a-year teacher from Queens who had been accused of sexual harassment. He was assigned to an administrative office on Fordham Road in the Bronx in September as part of a deal that led the city to drop the charges against him.
One day he plopped down on a couch in the hallway and began reading a novel, he said. Eventually, he dozed off. Then he was asked to “paper-clip some papers” and refused: he was charged with insubordination. He is now collecting his full salary at home in Queens, with plans to retire in January; the city is trying to fire him for insubordination before then, which would reduce his pension.
“There are indeed still rubber rooms,” he said. “They just don’t call them that.”
While the teachers are supposed to be given actual work, the Department of Education still considers them unsuitable for classrooms while their cases are pending. So it has assigned them to various offices, like those overseeing facilities and food, and the external affairs office at Tweed Courthouse, the department’s headquarters.
Barbara Morgan, a schools spokeswoman, said Friday that the teachers were being as productive as possible given the temporary nature of their administrative assignments. She provided a list of tasks that some were performing, which included processing invoices, arranging schedules, answering phones and scanning documents.
Deborah Byron, 45, was one of about 60 teachers told to report to the offices of the School Construction Authority in Long Island City, Queens. On their first day, they were told they would be responsible for “collecting data,” and someone began handing out folders with lists of school names and 25-foot retractable tape measures.
The teachers fanned out to different schools to measure every classroom, auditorium, athletic field and parking lot, for precisely the contractually mandated six hours and 50 minutes each school day. They frequently interrupted classes to do their work. Sometimes custodians said, “Hey, we already have this, let us print it out for you,” and offered blueprints, Ms. Byron said. In those cases, she would do spot checks.
While other reassigned teachers said they felt ostracized and uncomfortable among their peers, hearing whispers about their “rubber room status,” Ms. Byron said she tried to look as official as possible, never revealing that she had been reassigned and was facing suspension for insubordination, she said.
“I had strappy sandals on, and a clipboard and a pen, and an old Board of Education ID,” she said. “Some of the younger teachers were almost envious — they came up and said, how did you get this job? Because they were struggling with 20-something kids and I’m here walking around.”
In October, Ms. Byron was reassigned to a truancy center in a church basement in Far Rockaway, Queens. When the police brought in truants, she looked up their records on her personal laptop and tracked down their parents’ and school phone numbers. Then she tried to counsel the students. “I talk to them and ask them why they didn’t go to school,” she said at the time.
Reassigned teachers work at a dozen truancy offices around the city, but not all of them may be as effective. Ms. Byron said the other teacher she worked with did not bring her own computer and still could not access the system by mid-November. (Ms. Byron was recently sent home, her case concluding with an eight-month unpaid suspension.)
Despite the difficulties of finding the teachers actual work, cases are moving much faster than before the April agreement, when lawyers for both sides, arbitrators and defendants all played a role in dragging them out, sometimes for years. In mid-November, there were 236 teachers and administrators still in reassignment, down from 770 when the deal to close the rubber rooms was signed.
Ms. Morgan, the city spokeswoman, said the city was on track to close all the cases that had existed before April by the end of the year, except for those involving arrests or special investigation. The city did not provide information on how many teachers were fired, suspended or fined, and how many returned to teaching, saying that information would be available in January.
Last month, 16 accused teachers were supposed to return to the classroom when officials missed a new 60-day deadline to file formal charges against them. But some got their charges as soon as the following day, and most still have “rubber room duties” in schools, said Betsy Combier, a former union employee who now counsels reassigned teachers independently.
While several former rubber room teachers said they much preferred their new, comfortable assignments, describing luxuries like office-cleaning services and microwave ovens, others said they missed the camaraderie of the rubber room. All said they would rather be back teaching students.
“The people from my rubber room are all here,” said a preschool teacher who blogs under the pseudonym FidgetyTeach and has been assigned to administrative offices in Downtown Brooklyn, “and we are all very distressed.” She declined to be identified by name because her case was still before an arbitrator.
She was reassigned three years ago after she was accused of leaving a child unattended. She said that while the people in her new office were pleasant enough, she had had nothing to do since the first week.
“Some people are doing filing, but they are not even wanting to do it,” she said of her fellow reassigned teachers. “It’s menial work. Most people are not doing anything; they are just sitting there. This is punishment, whether the city wants to see it that way or not.”
Juliet Linderman contributed reporting.
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September 15, 2010

...If You Knew Betsy...

They say that there is an exception to every rule- and when it comes to the Useless UFT, that exception comes in the form of a beautiful, green eyed blonde, an unconventional, bright and passionate woman named Betsy Combier.
The first time that I met Ms.Combier was almost three years ago. She walked into our Rubber Room wearing an embroidered suede jacket and up to the knee high heeled boots. Unlike most of the women who work for the UFT, Betsy exuded a refreshing warmth and feminine quality. In a sweet and soft voice, Betsy introduced herself as someone who would be coming once a week to assist reassigned teachers with any problems or questions they may have. She greeted some of the teachers that she already knew and then proceeded to personally introduce herself to each and every new face. As she approached where I was sitting, one of the teachers quickly whispered,"Don't trust her." "Why?", I asked. That teacher put her head down as Ms. Combier greeted me. Although her warmth and openness was indeed refreshing, I cautiously welcomed her into my space. She handed me her card and told me to call her anytime I needed to talk. Soon after meeting her, I learned that Betsy had several blogs and was involved in advocating for the rights of students, parents and teachers. Having been a PTA president and raising four daughters in the Public school system, Betsy knew the system from many angles. She attended PEP meetings where she spoke out for the rights of the RR teachers, questioned the inflated power of the principals, the agenda, our Mayor and the unqualified Chancellor-without-a-contract.
The following week, Ms. Combier entered our RR wearing a flouncy skirt and carrying a fringed handbag. I could hear her in the hallway making small talk with the horrible Mr. Warden before entering the RR as scheduled. Two of the teachers immediately grabbed her ear, taking her to the private "staircase" in the hallway to talk.
Besides providing answers, listening to the teachers and following up on all inquiries, the difference between Betsy Combier and the rest of the UFT Reps was that Betsy came with no agenda. Having been hired only part time by Randi Weingarten to support the reassigned teachers in the RR, Betsy gave her support in the only way that she knew how...FULL time. Here is a woman who does not drive or ride the subway, but somehow managed to spend everyday, yes, EVERYDAY of the week visiting a different RR facility throughout the city or talking with distraught members of the TRCs. On a salary that barely covered her expenses, Ms. Combier never missed an opportunity to talk to, advise, assist and console hundreds of reassigned teachers over a seven year period. Unlike the other unapproachable, angry and aloof Useless UFT Reps (they know who they are) who shamelessly looked at their watches, worried about the running meter, came empty handed and stayed only long enough to say that they 'showed up', Betsy genuinely wanted to be there. Betsy sat amongst the teachers, never looking at the time, never making excuses. If for some unavoidable reason, she'd be late, Betsy would call one of us on our personal cell phones to let us know. If that wasn't enough, Reassigned teachers called Betsy early in the morning and all hours of the night when sleeping seemed like an impossible feat. Betsy knew the teachers. She knew their pain and hurt. She felt their frustration. She guided and empowered them to help themselves. Singlehandedly, Ms. Combier made up for the shortcomings and absence of all of the UFT reps that I have ever met. Those who allowed themselves to know her, loved her and still do. Those who doubted her sincerity were obviously afraid of her unconventional warmth and wisdom; do you blame them after the way they the UFT treats them?? However, those who didn't know her, missed out on her natural gift for being a true PEOPLE advocate and great friend.
One would think that by the way I have described Mrs. Combier, the UFT would recognize and value her for the rare GEM that she is.
Why then is Ms. Combier no longer employed by the UFT? Shockingly, the only thank you that Ms. Combier received for seven years of dedicated service to the UFT was a Pink slip on July 7, 2010. She was told by UFT Co-Staff Director Ellie Engler that the UFT no longer needed her service since the Rubber Rooms were to be closed. Ellie Engler is the very same person who did everything in her power to make Betsy's life at the UFT as difficult and uncomfortable as possible.
In 2009, Ms. Engler told Betsy to pack up her office at 52 Broadway because it was needed by the UFT for someone else. She promised to provide her with boxes and an alternative office location by the next day. At 6PM on the following day, there were still no boxes and nowhere to move them to. She was told to contact David Hickey, but received no response to her messages. After filling up several black trash bags with her papers and files, Betsy removed most of her things with the help of a teacher friend. After several months of working without an office, the Queens TRC liason asked Leroy Barr for an explanation. Several UFT members wanted to meet with Betsy, but without an office, this was impossible. After walking around the 16th floor, Mr. Barr located the telephone that had Betsy's number hooked up to a remote desk somewhere on the other side of the building. This, he told her, would be her new "office". Betsy's only request was that her files from her old office be safely moved to her new location. However, most of the files from her old office were never found.
The harassment continued after the Christmas break when Betsy returned to find that her cubicle had been moved by Ellie Engler and that her computer and telephone had disappeared. After scavenging for her things, Betsy's telephone was eventually found on the 11th floor.
After Betsy made several requests to Ms. Engler for her newly printed UFT business cards, Ms. Engler asked that Betsy take down the posts on her blog, NYC Rubber Room Reporter that contained Theresa Europe's name. (Theresa Europe is in charge of the DOE attorneys in The "Gotcha Squad") Betsy refused Ms. Engler's request and in turn, never received her cards. In addition, Adam Ross, the Attorney for Mike Mulgrew, told Betsy that she is to refrain from filing any FOIL (Freedom of Information requests) of anyone who is employed by the NYCDOE. Because Ms. Combier refused to heed these requests, she was fired. (Yet in her agreement it says she is hired to help any member in the TRC or elsewhere who needs help, and continue to write and advocate for people she assisted before she worked for the UFT) Ms. Combier may have been fired by the UFT, but she has not stopped working on behalf of the UFT's teachers who are still very much in need of her valuable knowledge and assistance.
Now, Betsy is pursuing her advocacy outside of the UFT from her office at home. Her email is betsy.combier@gmail.com. I know she will be there for you, me, and anyone who needs help. Shame on the UFT for firing one of our most dedicated and productive representatives.
Are you reading this, Mr. Mulgrew, Ms. Engler and Mr. Hickey?

September 6, 2010

September 7, 2010- The Rubber Room Charade Continues...

It has been 71 days since the NYC Department of Education and the UFT Leader Mike Mulgrew proudly announced their shocking closed door agreement putting an end to the NYC Rubber Rooms. Just a day later, the Rubber Room Movie premiered, exposing the horrific denial of due process that accused teachers must endure when reassigned to the Guantanamo Bay of the DOE.
Having been there myself, I can say from experience that from the time that a teacher is sent to the reassignment center having been accused of some wrongdoing or having been targeted by a jealous or vindictive principal, they are caught in a web of uncertainty, fear and doubt. In many instances, teachers do not even have a clue as to why they were removed from their schools. Throughout the lengthy dehumanization process of spending time in the Rubber Room, they are further humiliated and abandoned by the very same Union that collects their dues and is supposed to protect them. As a result, the reassigned teacher slowly spirals downward into a whirlwind of answered questions, confusion, grief, depression, denial, shame, anger and doubt. Many retreat, repress or totally withdraw. Others attempt to take positive action or act out in a myriad of unhealthy ways. Overall the reassigned teacher quickly learns that the saying, "God helps those who help themselves", does not apply to the Rubber Rooms. Letters to the DOE go unanswered, complaints to the UFT fall on deaf ears, stress is high, teachers get sick, depressed and even suicidal. The only support or comfort that a reassigned teacher may receive might come from another 'reassignee' who knows very well what the teacher is experiencing.
As anyone who works for the DOE knows very well, their so called 'reorganizations' always leads to more disorganization.
So...Here it is, the night before the first day of the 2010 school year and I still haven't received any word as to where I am supposed to report tomorrow. Having spent two whole years in the Rubber Room and seventy days on summer vacation, the DOE still can't get their act together.

June 6, 2010

Newsweek Gets It Right- In Defense of Public School Teachers

In Defense of Teachers
What charter schools really tell us about education reform
Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Are teachers really different in charter schools?

I think it’s fair to say that most people know we’re in the midst of an educational emergency. Just this week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told CNN, “There isn’t one urban school district in the country—Chicago, L.A., New York, D.C., Philly, Baltimore—there’s not one urban system yet where the dropout rate is low enough and the graduation rate is high enough.” And for those people who work in the school system, no issue has come to represent the struggle to save public education more than the fight over charter schools. For the sake of clarity, let me just note that a charter school is one which uses public funds to run a school that is managed privately, thus giving them the freedom to experiment as well as hire nonunion teachers. Charters such as the Harlem Children’s Zone HCZ in New York have longer school days (and a longer school year) with kids often required to come in Saturdays to work with tutors. The most successful charter schools (and they are not all the same in either quality or mission) have produced stunning results. At the Harlem Success Academy, 100 percent of third graders passed their state math exam and 95 percent passed the state English exam.

I am thrilled by these test results and I am very glad that the educational needs of poor urban students are finally being addressed in a serious way. But lately I’ve grown increasingly cynical about the assertions of charter-school advocates that the most pressing problem facing our public education system is the plethora of lazy, incompetent teachers who cannot be fired under any circumstances. As Steve Brill wrote for The New York Times Magazine last week: “Indeed, the core of the reformers’ argument, and the essence of the Obama approach to the Race to the Top, is that a slew of research over the last decade has discovered that what makes the most difference is the quality of the teachers and the principals who supervise them.” Maybe it’s because I was a teacher’s pet growing up, or because of my undying love for school supplies, but a lot of this sounds to me more like a full court press to break the admittedly powerful teachers’ unions than simply an effort to improve public schooling.

Full disclosure: my husband is a public-school teacher in a middle school in one of Brooklyn’s toughest neighborhoods. But we try not to discuss education reform for the sake of our marriage. Personally, I’m a little confused about the all-out push for charter schools by billionaires such as Bill Gates and Bruce Kovner. On the one hand, I support charters for their ability to prove there are solutions to some of the huge and seemingly intractable issues facing our country’s education system. I’m very grateful that schools like HCZ have proven that the achievement gap between urban students and their suburban counterparts can be closed. But I do not support using their existence to demonize teachers. For the vast majority of public-school teachers, so much of their job is out of their control that asking them to be held accountable for their students’ performance is tantamount to blaming car salesmen for Toyota’s accelerator problems. Poverty is still a huge barrier to learning, for instance. Just a quick look at some of the other differences between charters and their public-school brethren should be enough to prove that the path to an improved educational system is not all about firing teachers.

1. Charter schools, by their nature, have students whose parents are motivated and involved in their education. On the off chance that charter-school parents are not motivated to help their children succeed, they are often given support and help by the charter school itself. Indeed, New York Magazine revealed that parents of kids at the Harlem Success Academies “must sign the network’s ‘contract,’ a promise to get children to class on time and in blue-and-orange uniform, guarantee homework, and attend all family events.” The same cannot be said of public schools, which are required to take any child who resides in their district and do not have the resources or mandate to teach parents as well. But rather than push to raise the cap on charter schools, why not copy and fund some of their parental-support programs for existing public schools?

2. Charter schools often receive the same amount of public funding per student as public schools, and also benefit from their ability to raise and use charitable donations. Public schools receive their budgets from their local departments of education and have no ability to receive more. In fact, they’re prey to budget and service cuts and layoffs—New York City expects to lay off 4,400 public school teachers this year but no charters will be affected.

3. Charter schools have many more resources than the public schools they’re trying to replace. Surely, classroom teachers would have more opportunity to teach and teach well if they had enough books and study materials for all their kids. Donors Choose, a charitable organization where teachers submit proposals for funding by ordinary folks like you and me, estimates that the average public school teacher spends more than $500 of his or her own money on supplies for their students, or more than $1.3 billion dollars nationally. As Charles Best, founder of Donors Choose and a teaching veteran, told me, “We were all spending our own money on basic stuff—copy paper and pencils. We had a tough time innovating and none of our ideas would go past the planning stage. Now, at any one time, there are 15,000 to 30,000 live classroom requests on our site. This is a testament to the character and spirit of teachers.”

4. Charter schools are not required to accept special-needs children or children with learning disabilities. Diane Ravitch, author of “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” wrote in The Wall Street Journal that “The students who are hardest to educate are left to regular public schools, which makes comparisons between the two sectors unfair. The higher graduation rate posted by charters often reflects the fact that they are able to “counsel out” the lowest performing students … This is not a model for public education, which must educate all children.”

5. When discussing charter schools, advocates often mention the difficulty in firing public-school teachers. In that same Times Magazine article, Brill notes that “Once they’ve been teaching for three years and judged satisfactory in a process that invariably judges all but a few of them satisfactory, they are ensured lifetime tenure.” But teachers are not judged by themselves, but by their principals and other administrative staff. So isn’t there a way for school systems to strengthen their professional development programs or put forth proposals for more effective teacher observation, mentoring systems or remedial teacher training, if necessary?

It is simply not true that teacher quality is the sole difference between charter schools and public ones. As I’ve written in the past about the Harlem Children’s Zone, but which also applies to many other charter schools, “what the HCZ does is first recognize that the amelioration of poverty does not begin and end with an excellent education, but also requires a full belly, parental education, safety, advocacy, and the expectation that every student will succeed.” So until charter-school advocates can show me how teachers and teachers alone can be held responsible for all the learning that charter schools provide, I just can’t believe that holding only teachers accountable—and not the school systems they work for—is the fair or even the best way to improve public education.

June 3, 2010

Principal Hanley Needs New Glasses...

Betsy Combier at NYC Rubber Room Reporter received an anonymous letter addressed to Joel Klein that sheds light on the shortsightedness of this new school 'leader'.
Apparently, Principal Sheila Hanley of the "New Visions" School in Brooklyn (IABS) has "impaired vision".

May 27, 2010

Goodnight, Chair

Every morning when Mr. Warden arrives, he goes to his locker and unpacks his 'office'. This is quite hysterical to watch because Mr.Warden really takes this job of his very seriously. First,he drags his desk away from the wall and unfolds his tablecloth which he drapes over the desk.(the one with the loud yellow and orange print) He carefully retrieves several knicknacks/statues from his locker and strategically places them, one by one, in the same position that they were in on the day before. After his pen holder, statues, notebooks and giant wall clock(which should be on the wall) are all placed on his desk, he places a giant wooden statue of a black panther showing its teeth on top of his locker. Intimidation tactic ?? Possibly. On the walls he's got a tacky black velvet painting and a pair of canvases with matching lilies. The final touch is the giant scroll of the 'Serenity Prayer' that he unrolls and hangs over the fire extinguisher. I thought that hanging things over the fire extinguisher is a fire hazard...no? and umm, religion in Public School??...That's two violations in one. Well, I'd overlook the Serenity Prayer if only he lived by it. Mr.Warden steps back to admire his 'handiwork'. How proud Mr. Warden is of his office in the hallway!
Last but not least, are the Office chairs. He keeps one chair on the right for his personal office 'meetings' with the School Custodian and two chairs on the left for ??? (Beats me). I think he uses these chairs to define his invisible office boundaries. No one is allowed to sit on these chairs without Mr. Warden's permission! Do not even try sitting on one to tie your shoe! These chairs have great meaning to Mr. Warden. Such great meaning in fact that when he leaves everyday he turns the chairs around to face the wall to insure that no one will sit on them in his absence. He believes that turning them to the wall will deter the teachers from sitting on them. These chairs are off limits! Mr. Warden does not want anyone sitting on his chairs, especially when he's not around! Don't even think of sitting there. If you dare to move them, Mr. Custodian will report you to the authorities!!

May 18, 2010

"Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be Teachers"

When I was in Public school, I was crazy about my teachers. Like most little girls, I wanted to be just like them. I wanted to draw like my Art Teacher and tell stories as vividly as Ms. Weisssman...I wanted to play piano like Mr. C and sing like the Assistant Principal. I loved the sustenance of my teachers. I even wondered what Mrs. Rosen did 'all night' in the empty classroom when we went home. As a child, being a teacher meant being the one to stand in front of the classroom, hold the chalk, mark the homework, and give out the gold stars✩. I couldn't wait to get my first blackboard- and when my little brother was no longer a willing student, I lined up my most attentive stuffed audience kept on teaching.
As a third grade student, I remember when my teacher asked us to make ✎signs and stand outside of our school- Something about the city's budget cuts. Through a child's eyes, it seemed to me that someone, somewhere, didn't want to support our schools in the capacity that would sustain them. I recall being told that the person or people responsible for these cuts hadn't even attended the Public School System themselves. I wondered why we were on the verge of losing our wonderful Gym teacher and our Afterschool Program. Sound confusing for a child? As an adult, I am still confused.
As a NYC teacher, I have some questions for the "Kleinberg" team...

When did TEACHERS drop so low on the food chain?

"When did the 'TEACHER' become the the least important component in the business of 'teaching?'

When did TEACHERS become the 'disposable' factor in a system that teaches?

When did TEACHERS become the scapegoats for everything that is wrong with our city's children?

When did terrorizing TEACHERS become an acceptable practice and why have the Kafka-esque Rubber-Rooms been allowed to thrive even ONE more day under the Kleinberg administration?

My mother always said, "Be a teacher. You'll have job security, a paid summer vacation, good health benefits, a pension and..... If you have children of your own, you will be home in time to cook dinner for them." I followed my mother's advice. At the time, it seemed like the perfect job for a woman who wanted to have the best of both worlds. I went to school and got my Bachelors Degree and then my Masters Degree in education. I spent 5 years in night school working toward earning 30 credits above my masters. I never doubted my direction for a minute.
On my first day of teaching, I knew that I had found my calling. I remember thinking, "Wow, we get paid all day to be with children, ignite their minds, enrich their lives, fill them with knowledge and then get to leave at 3:00! I couldn't wait to return the next day. Compared to my last 9:00 to 7:00 job, this was indeed heaven. I was fortunate to work in a wonderful district and have a principal who cared about his teachers. He was a mensch. His support kept me going at times when I felt like giving up. I returned home every night eager to plan and prepare for the next day. I remember the relentless drive that I had to make my students shine.

It is 22 years later and thanks to technology, my students are finding me on Facebook, wanting to reconnect, eager to share their accomplishments. I was recently invited to a Wedding, a Christening and a family gathering by my former students. Who really knows how much influence we've had on a child's life in the one or two years that we get to spend with them? As far as I can see, there is no end. How does one measure the impact of true teacher effectiveness? There is no measure.

I never imagined that I'd live to eat my words. In spite of the horrible, heartless and harassing administrators, the "Billionaire" mentality, ungrateful, indifferent parents, 'kids gone wild' and Charter School politics, I do feel that I have been able to make a difference. I know in my heart that I have touched lives, instilled good values and provided lifelong lessons.

Thanks to our "Education" Mayor, teaching is no longer a labor of love. According to the 'Kleinberg' regime, Teachers are robots, children are widgets and education is a business to be controlled by Hedge Fund Managers looking for a tax break. We are constantly 'cut down', restrained and intimidated by a system with a death wish.

I speak for myself and those among me who have been burned by a system that doesn't see any value in the very essence of education. There is no room for innovation or thinking outside of the box. Schools are being starved and creativity is completely stifled. The idea of job security is dangling by a thread. Benefits and Health Insurance are constantly under attack...TDA's...declining in value. Sabbaticals... unattainable...Tenure...also at risk. Will summers off soon be a thing of the past??

Most of us, having gone through the public school system ourselves, know that our children are being robbed of the education that we were given and that they deserve. The little girl in me cringes when I hear that my niece or my neighbor's daughter wants to go to college for Education. I have to restrain myself from bursting their illusory bubble. I gently suggest, "Why don't you study law, medicine, graphic design or perhaps, rocket science?"(Maybe growing up to be a 'cowboy' wouldn't be such a bad idea after all...)
I will say anything but, "It is not a good time to be a teacher", which truly breaks my heart most of all.

May 17, 2010

Why I Fired my DOE(oops!) NYSUT Lawyer

Why I fired my DOE (oops!) NYSUT Lawyer...

At our first meeting, I clearly requested an "Open and Public" hearing so that my lawyer could give notice to the arbitrator and DOE lawyer. I followed up on this request with an email asking for confirmation.
By our fourth meeting, I noted that my lawyer had still not solidified my request with the hearing officer and asked her why.
I said, "I sense that you don't want me to have and open and public hearing." "Well, she said, "You sensed right". She then proceeded to paint an ugly picture of an out of control hearing room filled with unruly reporters and friends of the Principal. "If you have an open hearing, the Principal can bring in anyone he wants to. Anyone. That may not be in your best interest. You never know who he might bring in". And, "Do you really want the press distorting your story the way they have done with other cases?"
Armed with the confidence that somehow, "The truth will set me free", I still insisted on an open and public hearing despite the obvious dismay of my lawyer.

I could only reach my NYSUT lawyer through the NYSUT office, that is... when it was open, which meant that I had to call when the office was open, even just to leave a message. The recording said that if you know the '3 digit code' of the person you are trying to reach, please enter it now. As a client, I asked my lawyer for her 3 digit code. Her response was, "Uh, what do you need it for? Has there been a gap in our communication?" "Yes,as a matter of fact. I called you five days ago and this is the first time you have returned my call." "Well...Is there a problem with that? I am very busy."(doesn't want to be bothered)"Yes, there are times when I would like to be able to leave you a message." Her response was, "I think that we've been emailing just fine, don't you?" "No". (Obviously I wouldn't be asking for your code if I was able to reach you, idiot).

After several months of sending emails with scant response from my lawyer,I was beginning to get nervous. When she called me on a Sunday night at 10pm on the last day of spring break, I asked her again for an alternative number. Again, she refused to give me one. Her excuse was that she'd had trouble in the past with clients(teachers) calling her at all hours of the night and had reservations about ever giving out her cell phone number to a teacher again...(I wondered if that reservation included calling her clients on a Sunday night at 10pm.)
When I asked what concerns she had, she responded that she'd rather not divulge that information, and... "Is this the reason you called me?- to pick a fight?"

My paranoid NYSUT lawyer wouldn't allow anyone to sit in on my meetings with her. I found it unusual that I couldn't be accompanied by someone, anyone of my own choosing. Her reason was that she had not established 'confidentiality' with that person. (They were my support system stupid, not yours.)
Before our third meeting, I asked my lawyer why she wouldn't allow me to bring someone in with me for support. Her response was that she didn't feel 'comfortable'. I said that, "It's not about 'you' feeling comfortable. I am the client. This is my case. I am choosing to bring this person in. I trust this person". As a client, I should be able to bring in anyone that I want. (Shouldn't I?) Her response was, "Well, what do you know about lawyers? How much experience have you had with lawyers anyway?"
Does this sound professional to you?

It started to become very clear to me that my DOE-(oops!)NYSUT lawyer was not working in my best interest when she divulged private information to my Chapter Leader without my permission. It seemed that she- my lawyer, needed assurance that the events I had described to her actually occurred the way that I described them. Who was breaching client-lawyer confidentiality now?

My NYSUT lawyer was completely overwhelmed with too many cases and it was adversely affecting the preparation of my hearing. As the amount of documents that I submitted to her grew, so did her disorganization. Each time that I met with her, it was like starting from square one. As we were going through the documents I had submitted to her at previous meetings, I came across one that didn't seem familiar. As I began to read it aloud, her response was, "Oh that's not yours", grabbing it out of my hand. "I was wondering where that document was! I don't know how that paper got in there". That document, that 'confidential document', was from another teacher's case that she was working on. I began to wonder how many of my documents had been mixed up or 'fallen' somewhere that they shouldn't be... And she was the one concerned about "confidentiality?".

It was obvious that my lawyer had her own set of rules which she felt didn't apply to her. I had no confidence that she was working for me and not the DOE or some other ultimate plan. Three weeks before my hearing, I fired my DOE-oops! 'NYSUT' lawyer and hired a private one. I believe that it was the best decision that I have ever made. There was no doubt that the new lawyer had the experience and knowledge that the NYSUT lawyer was clearly lacking. He was one step ahead of the DOE and UFT's tricks which I believe included assigning me a ridiculous and severely inept NYSUT lawyer.

May 10, 2010

Teacher Bashing

There is so much negative banter about teacher performance, teacher evaluation, grading the teachers, good teachers, bad teachers, firing teachers, teachers wasting taxpayers money, teachers in general, blah, blah, blah. Is there anyone who isn't teacher bashing these days? Suddenly, everyone who has an opinion and anyone who has money is an 'education expert'. (Thanks SBST!) Is there anyone in this teacher bashing bunch that has ever taught in a classroom?

Since most senior teachers of the pre'BloomKlein' era earned their education degrees the conventional, time honored way, one can safely believe that their credentials have been met, but is it safe to make the same assumptions of our new, overly empowered Principals?
How many of of our new Principals have earned their counterfeit credentials through the quick and condensed 'Evelyn Wood' Speedy Leadership Academy?' Do you think that they have spent at least 3-5 years in the classroom- excluding their own experience as a student in the NYC DOE? How many have shown an initiative to stand in front of a classroom and model a lesson in the caliber that they expect from their staff? Would it be unreasonable to ask that principals also be held responsible and accountable to the same professional standards as teachers?
("Pissed Off" has the right idea.)How about the teachers observing the Principals and Assistant Principals for a change? Why not rate the Principals on how well they can be in two places at once, juggle lunch duty or how well they can discipline one child while praising another all in one breath? We are not talking about balancing budgets here. We are talking about 8:00-3:00, don't be late, get your hands dirty, hold your bladder, full fledged teaching.

Take a look at the results of the biased 3020a hearings and you will find that in most hearings a Principal is unable to prove the incompetence, neglect or corporal punishment that they have charged a teacher with. The fact that so few teachers are actually fired as a result of the 3020a process is proof that most teachers have been reassigned on dubious or cooked up charges. There is no evidence that the 3020a process is a reliable method of ridding the system of 'bad' teachers. What is does prove however, is that most principals are good liars and poor judges of what a bad teacher looks like.
For every teacher sent to the RR, there is a principal who put them there. Perhaps these ignorant, unethical and self serving administrators should spend more time in the classroom and less time witch hunting. Once the 3020a hearing is complete and an arbitrator rules in the favor of the teacher, shouldn't a mandatory investigation of the Principal follow? How many times it is the Principal's ego, ignorance, lack of communication and paranoia that condemns an innocent teacher? Shouldn't it be the Principal who is held accountable for wasting the tax payer's money?
Instead, NYC DOE principals get a free ride on the tails of Bloom-Klein's "Some are more equal than others policy." 'It's Okay", they say to a principal's disregard for regulations. "It's okay", they say to the harassment of senior teachers. It's okay to rate teachers unfairly, just as long as the principal gets good grades on school surveys from the teachers and parents. "It's okay" to make a mistake, just as long as some unsuspecting senior teacher takes the blame.
Is this teacher abuse "okay" with the UFT? Sure it is. Just as long as the abused are paying their membership dues and remaining passively quiet. As long as the UFT stands idly by and accepts the "It's okay" policy for administrators, the corruption will continue...

Don't Miss David Pakter's Historic Hearing Today...

Dear Mr. Pakter,
Please know that we are all behind you. Knock em dead. The reassigned teachers here in Brooklyn are all praying for your exoneration based on the truth; the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. You deserve it...
Sincerely, Fidgetyteach

I am proud to repost this important event info. from Ed Notes...
On Monday, May 10, at 10 AM --
For the first time in the history of NYC Dept of Education Teacher Trials, a State Hearing Officer has requested and will allow an accused NYC Teacher to play secret tapes in his possession to prove his innocence.

This is a ground breaking event and will prove beyond any doubt that former

'Teacher of the Year', David Pakter, was falsely accused of wrongdoing by the NYC DOE.

No member of the media, Legal community or anyone interested in Justice can afford to miss this unique, first ever milestone in the history of the long struggle by NYC Educators to receive fair treatment and "Due Process" at the hands of the 23 Billion Dollar New York City Dept of Education.

Where: 49 Chambers Street, Manhattan 6th Floor

When: 10 A.M.

Who: Hon. Douglas J. Bantle, Esq. - Presiding

Christopher M. Callagy, Esq. - for the Defense

Philip Oliveri, Esq. - Prosecuting for NYC

Note: New York City teachers have been removed from their classrooms and schools for decades based on the flimsiest hearsay, fabricated allegations and bogus charges. Often the teacher is totally innocent of the accusations but is at the mercy of a system that makes proving one's innocence difficult if not impossible.

The NYC Dept of Education will present Witnesses who despite being under Sworn Oath, will lie with impunity and not hesitate to commit the most outrageous acts of Perjury knowing that there is virtually no price to be paid if caught.

On Monday, May 10, at 10 A.M.
for the first time in history, a courageous and independent Hearing Officer, sitting in Judgement to decide a highly Decorated Educator's fate, will allow David Pakter to have a fair shot at Justice.

The Honorable Douglas J. Bantle, Esq. will permit the accused to let the entire public learn the Truth by playing a tape recording proving "who" said "what" and "where" and "when".

The Hearing Officer and the Attorneys will all hear what those who accused Mr. Pakter said - or did not say- from their own lips.

The great French writer,Victor Hugo, once said:

"There is no force on Earth so powerful as an Idea whose time has come."

That time is 10 A.M. on Monday, May 10

at 49 Chambers Street, 6th Floor, Manhattan.

Be a Witness to History.


Warning: the 6th Floor Receptionist has been known to falsely inform the Public there is NO Pakter Hearing scheduled.

Do Not Leave. Demand to speak to an Official. mily:Times New Roman;font-size:180%;" >"There is no force on Earth so powerful as an Idea whose time has come."

That time is 10 A.M. on Monday, May 10

at 49 Chambers Street, 6th Floor, Manhattan.

Be a Witness to History.


Warning: the 6th Floor Receptionist has been known to falsely inform the Public there is NO Pakter Hearing scheduled.

Do Not Leave. Demand to speak to an Official.


May 2, 2010

Shame on the DOE, the UFT and BloomKlein!

Shame on Mr.Mulgrew and the UFT for not Protecting this teacher...
Thank you Chaz for shedding light on the injustices that NYC teachers must endure under the BLOOMKLEIN administration.

April 15, 2010


..."It's a Free Ride when you've already paid..."
Just heard the news... and and this song is playing in my head...by Alanis Morisette. Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/video.

"City to Eliminate Rubber Rooms By Fall"
...Wow, they are going to close the rubber rooms?! The rooms that I have spent the last two years doing nothing in- for doing 'nothing wrong?' Lucky me. I am jumping for joy. NOT. I have paid royally in the Rubber Room for my Principal's error. I can never rewind the clock, never get those two years back, never erase the stigma of having done time in the Rubber Room. I(We) reassigned teachers have been used, disrespected and abused. Pawns between the DOE, the UFT and the war against tenure. All the news can talk about is the money that is being wasted. Lucky us. I will have to think about this and get back to you.
An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It's a black fly in your Chardonnay
It's a death row pardon two minutes too late
And isn't it ironic... don't you think

It's like rain on your wedding day
It's a free ride when you've already paid
It's the good advice that you just didn't take
Who would've thought... it figures

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
"Well isn't this nice..."
And isn't it ironic... don't you think

It's like rain on your wedding day
It's a free ride when you've already paid
It's the good advice that you just didn't take
Who would've thought... it figures

Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything's okay and everything's going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything's gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face

A traffic jam when you're already late
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It's meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
And isn't it ironic...don't you think
A little too ironic...and, yeah, I really do think...

It's like rain on your wedding day
It's a free ride when you've already paid
It's the good advice that you just didn't take
Who would've thought... it figures

Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
Life has a funny, funny way of helping you out
Helping you out...
Education Notes Online: Watch for the Snarks and Boojums on Rubber Room Agreement">
Check out Ed Notes for more on this...
....To Be Continued Later.

April 13, 2010

April 12, 2010

Digging for Dirt

It is amazing the lengths that the DOE will go to terminate a teacher.
"And the Oscar for submitting the most incredibly bogus evidence goes to... "My principal". He gets the award for trying to dig up as much irrelevant information that he can get his dirty hands on...short of calling on my fourth grade teacher(god bless her) and finding out if I was ever in detention. If this isn't a witch hunt, then I don't know what is. As the countdown to my 3020a gets closer, my Principal seems to be desperately digging himself into a hole. Isn't it obvious that the more irrelevant the information he submits, the more heinous he appears? Why, oh why can't he stick to the specifications of my case? Could it be that he doesn't have enough evidence to support his accusations? Hmm. Could it be that he is trying to deflect from the real culprit--himself?? Well, it is obvious to anyone with half a brain that my principal dropped the ball on this one, but as we all know, we are dealing with the DOE here.
God only knows what an arbitrator will accept into evidence. I pray that my arbitrator has enough common sense to recognize that my old dental records and what my first boyfriend thinks of me have nothing to do with my charges. The most recent shenanigan my Principal pulled was trying to submit into evidence a document concerning a three year old incident that occurred on a day that I was clearly absent from work. My name wasn't even on it. This incident wasn't even found in my file, but that of a colleague's. Can I be responsible for everything that is wrong with my school? If the infraction was so terrible, why isn't the other teacher being brought up on charges? I know there is a limit as to how far back a Principal can scope into your past for information, but my Principal doesn't seem to have a clue.
Remember Mr. Principal, "A lie has speed, but truth has endurance". ~Edgar J. Mohn

March 18, 2010

More Regulations...

Welcome to Mr. Warden's world where over enforcing his personal peeves and humiliating the RR teachers is what he interprets as part of his moral obligation to the DOE. One of his chief obsessions is with teachers who talk on the phone in the stairwell, (aka the 'phone booth'). Although the phones are used all day amongst the masses, those who desire a shred of seclusion often retreat to the 'phone booth' which is in such a remote location, one would forget that it actually leads upstairs. This barren phone booth (aka stair well) is within 5 foot of Mr. Warden's invisible wall-less office. From the time a teacher enters the "phone booth', he is live prey for Mr. Warden. While you are making that important call to your lawyer, insurance company or bookie, Mr. Warden will be watching. With nothing better to do, Mr. Warden will conspicuously watch your butt. Yes, he will actually make sure that under no circumstances does your butt ever get a chance to rest on the dusty cold stairs. Resting your butt is not an option in Mr. Warden's phone booth. Rest assured that if you get lost in your phone call and forget this rule, Mr. Warden will be there to disrupt your phone call and remind you. Why, because as Mr. Warden explains, "It is a fire hazard and people will not be able to walk by if you are sitting on the steps". The truth is, that staircase is never used by ANYONE except the RR teachers. What Mr.Warden doesn't tell you is that he wants nothing more than to make your phone booth stay as cumbersome as humanly possible.

March 13, 2010

"The Regulations"

Mr. Warden, keeper of the reassigned teachers loves enforcing the 'regulations'. The regulations say, "Only one chair per person". Mr. Warden says that if anyone is caught using more than one chair, he will have to tell the custodian to remove the extra chairs from the room. Perhaps you had better do that Mr. Warden...I don't think that I can control myself from using more than one chair- especially since no one else is using them.

March 10, 2010

Overheard: Truth or Myth?

Alot of information passes through the RR on a weekly basis. Since the inmates are really kept out of the loop about current issues, much of the hearsay is never confirmed. It is highly likely that when a RR inmate meets with a UFT rep, NYSUT lawyer or OSI officer they will return filled with ideas that often fuel discussions and/or arguments about what is true and what is not. It is also highly likely that if one tries to get the facts from the UFT about OSI or NYSUT or vice versa, one will come up even more empty than before they started. Try asking two UFT reps the same exact question and you will receive two completely conflicting answers. Do they both work for the same organization? Sometimes I wonder. So here I go. I have two Truth/Myth unconfirmed rumors today. You decide.

1. A newly reassigned teacher was told by a UFT lawyer that he does not need to report for an OSI investigation if he is tenured (which he is). It would certainly help a lot of teachers to know whether or not there is any truth to this.

2. During a winter storm or other inclement weather which prevents you from reporting to your assigned school, it is acceptable to report to the nearest DOE school within your travelling range.
A recently retired teacher informed me that this was agreed upon in our contract several years back. As far as she knows, it still remains. Is this the Truth or is it a Myth?

Feel free to comment...

March 8, 2010

Teachers Speak

"Now that this group of teachers who are in the excess group have got such negative exposure in the national media (FOX, MSNBC) I am praying that Klein will lift the hiring freeze. i have ill family back in NYC and want to relocate badly. Please give me updates."
July 10, 2009 at 4:23am ·

What a pompous moron. This ignorant comment and others can be found on the Facebook Page, "Teachers Speak" from a licensed teacher who describes himself as, "A quality edicator sees their students as individuals with a history, a culture and takes time to know them. The problem is all the leadership sees is a collective of data and test scores." (I held myself back from correcting his spelling and grammar errors...) His profile also reads,"Edicator examining the problems facing all teachers and students both in and out of the classroom -our nation is in an education emergency with 100,000 teachers out of work (Wall Street Journal Report) and budgets being slashed in every state - it is time for teachers and families to fight the poiticians and bueracrats for a strong system of education for our kids and jobs for quality educators."
Isn't it pathetic that a fellow teacher sees the abuse of other teachers as a great opportunity to secure a job for himself? Sounds a bit barbaric.
Hmmm...Maybe he should go looking for a job elsewhere?

March 2, 2010


Friday morning...and just about that time when everyone is settled in their seats, Foodie decides that he is hungry. When he gets up from the corner he has barricaded himself in, everyone else must get up too. In order for him to pass, tables and chairs must be moved. Like a dream-scene in a movie, Foodie slowly makes his way to the refrigerator. He shuffles his feet and you can hear the sound of his nylon pants shifting as he walks. It has been suggested that Foodie sit somewhere else. Somewhere less restricting; where he won't disrupt the order of things. It is mentioned that perhaps he should sit right next to the refrigerator. As he heats up his pre-breakfast meal, Foodie looks at no one. He just stares into space. He methodically unwraps the three bags that protect his plastic utensils. There is an eerie blankness about him. While conversations are going on closely around him, he says nothing. He sluggishly makes his way back to his seat and once again, it is musical chairs.
Five minutes later, Foodie is up again to pace the room. Every once in a while he spontaneously jerks his knees forward and waves his arms, startling anyone in close proximity. Recently, he has made eye contact with one of the women and spontaneously lifted his arms, snapped his fingers in the air and proceeded to gyrate his hips in a swiveling motion. 'Exercise', he calls it, but with a heavy lisp which sounds more like, 'ex-ther-thise' I call it just plain, "creepy".
Foodie has been in our reassignment center for only 2 months since he left the one in Staten Island. When teachers transfer over here, there is usually a good reason and most often, it is not of their own choosing. Everyone knows that this isn't the most favorable of Reassignment 'destinations'. I can safely say that this guy didn't have many fans in Staten Island.
Foodie eats his pre- breakfast meal and then leans back to take a nap. Fifteen minutes later, breakfast. Thirty minutes later, brunch. After that, he leaves the room and an hour later he returns with a full bag of groceries, I mean uh.. lunch. Back and forth like an expectant father, Foodie consumes meal after meal... Foodie leaves the room and roams the first floor of the building. He is told by the warden that he cannot 'roam the hallways'. Foodie retreats into the men's room for a good half an hour. It is reported that he just stands in there,(just staring and standing!)- creeping everyone out while they do their business and leave.

February 28, 2010

The Untold Story...

There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.
~ Maya Angelou ~

After a 5 month retreat, I am back and bursting with mental overload. The brutal honesty coming from the many blogs that I follow has incited me to pick up where I left off...wherever that was...
I am not about to divulge the details of my personal 'untold story', but to tell of the pain I've endured in having to remain silent for so long. I am referring to the untold story, the events that resulted in my reassignment. The story that still eludes me and haunts me in my sleep. The same story that I have relived each and everyday for the past two years. It is like waiting in a doctor's office for an appointment and they never call your name...

It is a story about teaching in a school whose veteran principal is suddenly replaced with an inexperienced amateur- fresh from the "Leadership Academy". Sound familiar?? A rookie principal so "unacquainted" with the chancellor's rules, regulations and articles of the teacher's contract that he couldn't recognize them even when they coincided with simple common sense. A principal who believes that the rules only apply to his staff and not to himself; That 'ignorance' is an acceptable excuse for his own negligence. A principal whose extreme passivity risked the well being and safety of an entire class. A story that has estranged me from my colleagues who live in fear that the principal will retaliate against them. As the CEO of the school, Mr. Principal can do whatever he wants. In an attempt to cover the mistakes of his barely ripe, untenured Academy graduate ass, I was instantly made to 'disappear'.
This is the untold story that the "useless" UFT still has no regard for. The story that the Office of Special Investigations twisted and mangled so badly that it is unrecognizable. The one that the UFT chap still can't recall..."What happened again?"... each and every time he reluctantly drops in to the reassignment center. The story that my principal denies any responsibility for. Not being able to tell my story is like holding my breath under water...

While the media criminalizes and exploits the "Rubber Room Teachers" every chance they get, the UFT exploits them with silence. On a personal level, the UFT reps that I have dealt with are unresponsive and lack any form of empathy for the trauma endured by the reassigned teacher. They are even more insensitive when it comes to acknowledging the conditions in the rubber room. It is obvious that the reassigned teachers are pretty low on the totem pole of importance in the eyes of the UFT.
Yes I know, everyone in the Rubber Room has a story and mine is not unique. It is a story of truth that if ever told would result in most of America homeschooling their own children.

Did you hear about the teacher who saw what no one was supposed to see & heard what no one was supposed to hear? You probably haven't. He is in the rubber room. And, somewhere in the school where that teacher worked is an administrator who is resting easy because that teacher and what that teacher knows is no longer a threat to him.
Have you heard about the social worker who called a parent whose child was failing math and in turn was accused of threatening the parent's life? She is here in the rubber room too.
Or... the school aide who brought in a cake and lit a birthday candle for a homeless child who would otherwise have nothing to celebrate? The odds are high that you probably haven't heard because she has 'disappeared' to the rubber room for almost three years, along with her untold story. Not being able to tell my story feels like being trapped on a subway car to nowhere...

When one is 'disappeared' to the rubber room, their voice is disappeared too. Instead of advocating for the reassigned teacher, the UFT intimidates the teacher into silence by advising them not to trust or share their story with anyone, including the people whom they meet in the RR. This silence adds to the oppression and pain of the already traumatized teacher who has been banished from their school. Not being able to tell my story is like being permanently stuck in an elevator...

There is a room full of untold stories from seasoned teachers who actually worked with children and liked their jobs. A room full of talented, dedicated people who somehow believed that their administration shared their vision of what it meant to educate. People who, in spite of working in schools with moldy ceilings, asbestos, broken windows, no air conditioning and faulty loudspeakers came in to work everyday to be there for the kids. They spent their own paychecks to buy the basic essentials for their classrooms while the administration hoarded the chalk and copy paper under lock and key.

In the rubber room, the teachers and their 'inconvenient' truths have been temporarily silenced and buried. There is nowhere for them to turn, no support for the truth. It is no accident that they are kept to wait so long. Meanwhile, the UFT continues to patronize the Mayor for the sake of 'contract' negotiations. Regardless, Chancellor Klein and Mayor Bloombucks aren't playing as nice. They still blame the Union for everything that is wrong with public education. They are free to generate more lies about how tenure is the main problem, how bad the teachers are and how well the public school system is doing under their reign of terror.

September 24, 2009

They Come and Go...

He was here in June with his head buried in a pile of lawyer's papers, pausing only for food and water. Ahmad mostly kept to himself, alternating activity between sleep and prayer, trying to ease his constant stress and preoccupation with the outcome of his long drawn out hearing. Now they are both gone. Returned to the unknown 'Abyss' of the Bloom-Klein public school system. Several fellow occupants disappeared over the summer, whereabouts unknown. Word has it that Rem settled his case and has to pay a hefty fine over the next two years. No one really knows for sure. In an atmosphere encompassed by fear, no one really knows the truth about anything and everyone knows not to ask. Unless information is offered, you really cannot know the teacher, (the person) who has been sitting next to you for the past two years. It is the way that they, (the DOE) want it. The way it was designed. The Rubber room atmosphere takes it toll on the best and the brightest.
I have watched so many reassigned teachers come and go as I sit and wait for my hearing date to come up. Most of the time, those who were here first, leave first...but not always. Overall, it is an endless and indefinite wait with no explanation. No one knows what they're really waiting for. Wait and sit. Sit and wait. It's a good day when no one bothers you. It's an even better day when the person next to you is out and you gain another chair to put your feet up on.
Most teachers who pass through these doors are oblivious as to why they are here. Arriving in shock and denial, teary eyed or angry, it is only a matter of time before they are trudging in here daily, resigned to the fact that they are powerless. The Rubber room has become the only place where we sit amongst those who also know what it's like to be "railroaded".
The passage of time has a way of removing the layers of armor, the layers of anger and the will to 'fight the good fight'. Anxiously making phone calls, writing letters and shuffling papers separates the newcomer from one who has done some time in Teacher Jail. The pain and suffering of this treacherous waiting period is further magnified by the fact that the UFT doesn't come to your rescue the way you expect or are told that they will. The reality that they will not save you or even try is a tough pill to swallow. They are not even that 'upset' to learn of your demise. They will inevitably be the first to remind you (for the billionth time) that you should be happy that you are, "still getting paid"- when they aren't dodging your phone calls.
Unfortunately, the door is still swinging open and more teachers are daily being sent here. Sustained by the silence of its' victims, the Union that has turned its' back on them and those who think that it could never happen to them, the DOE's best kept secret is alive and kicking.

September 1, 2009

All I Ever Needed to Know ... I Learned in the Rubber Room.

All That I Ever Needed To Know...I Learned in the Rubber Room (Mental Preparation)

1. Most people don't like air conditioning.
2. The world will never stop for you. Husbands get sick, children graduate, parents die, the mortgage must be paid, birthdays are celebrated, people get divorced and Jury Duty notices still arrive in the mail-(hopefully)...all while in the rubber room.
3. Good people won't steal your stuff. Find one decent person whom you can trust to watch over your stuff while you're in the bathroom.
3. If you don't want anyone to know your business, don't be the FIRST to share it!
4. Racism and prejudice are alive and well in the Rubber Room. Respect and tolerance isn't.
5. There is another rubber room. It's called the "Teacher's lounge".
6. No one ever gossips about other people's 'virtues'.
7. There are some things that aren't even worth explaining to your BFF. (Reassignment is one of them.)
8. The UFT is NOT your friend. (If you're disappointed with their inaction, it's your fault for having expectations.)
9. A friend is someone who doesn't want to see you fall flat on your face. Deal with a major life crisis and then take a good look around. Real friends don't get spooked.
10. Your principal doesn't really like you. You're just young and underpaid.
11. If you think it can't happen to you, it probably will.
12. Being in the rubber room is a punishment designed to get you so frustrated that one day you will just get up and quit. Being guilty or innocent is not a factor here.
13. If you still "don't get it", you are correct.
14. There is no logical answer to, "Why?" when dealing with the DOE.
15. My own chapter leader thinks that the UFT is "useless" and she couldn't be more right.