I used to think of this as a case of good work if you can get it, but it’s really more like great not working but getting paid anyway. There was a time when teachers unions across the country came under significant public scrutiny and pressure over the use of so called “rubber rooms.” These were holding centers where teaches who were suspended for reasons ranging from minor administrative infractions to sexual assault of children sat around collecting their pay while their cases were handled. This went on for years at a stretch in some cases. But once the taxpayers who pay the bill for all of this caught wind of it, the practice was eventually abolished.
Or was it? The New York Post has been trailing the culprits in the Big Apple for a while now and they’ve discovered that the rubber rooms are back in style.
In one of the “reassignment centers,” 16 exiled educators sit in a city Department of Education building in Long Island City, Queens, including a dozen packed into one room — where they do virtually no work.
They listen to music, do crossword puzzles, chat — and as this exclusive Post photo reveals, doze on the taxpayer’s dime.
The rules forbid beach chairs and air mattresses, but not nap time. The teacher sprawled on the floor, pulled a wool hat over his eyes to shut out the fluorescent lights and slept.
Others prop up two chairs to recline or just lay their heads on the table. “It’s gone right back to the way it was in the old days, an old-fashioned rubber room,” one banished teacher said.
The Post has a charming picture of one diligent educator sprawled out on the floor wearing camouflage pants with a wool cap pulled down over his eyes as he catches up on his beauty rest. He looks terribly comfortable, and all the more so because he’s drawing his full pay thanks to the generosity of New York’s taxpayers. The state Department of Education refused to comment to the Post as to how many teachers are currently enjoying this fabulous work situation, but it’s estimated that between 200 and 400 of them are napping on the public dime for a total bill in the range of $15M to $20M per year.
Interviews with some of the teachers reveal just what a burden it is for all of them.
While the city promised to keep removed educators busy, the Queens exiles say they only occasionally oblige requests to do menial tasks like stuffing folders or making copies. Others refuse to do such work, calling it “demeaning.”
They mainly just kill time to get through a six-hour, 20-minute day.
“I’m so exhausted from being in this place doing nothing,” one said.
I wonder if any of them are the teacher who crashed the drone into the US Open? Or the one arrested for having sex with a 12 year old student? I’m sure they’re still on the payroll because you don’t want to lose talent like that.