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.

2 comments:

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

Fidgety this is an excellent analysis of the situation. However, I have a question for you:

Is it any different in a school about to be closed?

As you know I was released from the rubber room. The DOE refuses to tell me why I was there in the first place and why I was released. Of course I don't want to go back(humm after seeing my school --maybe lol) What you describe in this post sounds very much like the dysfunctional schools I have worked for the last 20 years and my school that is essentially "a corpse".

My point is "what's the difference?", as Jack Nicholson says in "The Departed". Rubber room or failed school the situation is the same.

Fidgety said...

Dear Justice, Thank you for responding to my post. I have been away so long that I wondered if anyone remembered my blog. You asked, "What's the difference?" Good question. After rereading my original post, the first thing that comes to mind is, "geography". The other is, "illusion." The atmosphere of fear, the secrecy, the lack of camaraderie amongst colleagues and the cut throat, stab-you-in-the back environment bears a great resemblance to the school from which I came. The only difference is the illusion. The presence of an operating school building provides a great facade to the parents and the public that the status quo is being upheld. The teachers are working under the assumption that the union will protect them, that the principal will act in their best interest and that their jobs are safe as long as they are not fighting the system. Hence, the illusion remains intact.