Hundreds of New York City teachers who are paid full salaries to do nothing while they await disciplinary hearings will be released from the city’s “rubber rooms” this fall, officials announced last week.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the teachers’ union announced a deal to reassign most of the teachers to administrative or nonclassroom work while their cases are pending.
About 650 educators, more than 500 of them teachers, are in the teacher-reassignment centers, costing the city tens of millions of dollars a year, including $30 million in salaries, officials said.
The teachers generally spend months or even years in the so-called rubber rooms playing Scrabble, reading, or surfing the Internet while still collecting full salaries of $70,000 a year or more. The city has blamed union rules that make it difficult to fire teachers, but some teachers assigned to rubber rooms say they have been singled out because, for instance, they blew the whistle on a principal who was fudging test scores.
The deal expands the list of charges for which school officials can suspend teachers without pay to include violent crimes.
Officials also agreed to increase the number of arbitrators who hear teachers’ cases from 23 to 39, and said they hope to catch up with backlogged cases by the end of the year. –AP
A version of this article appeared in the April 21, 2010 edition of Education Week as ‘Rubber Rooms’ for Teachers to Be Shuttered in N.Y.C.