Monday, June 29, 2009

AP's Karen Matthews Distorts Rubber Room Story to Fit Agenda

Many people learn to mistrust the media, which so often gets a lot of stuff wrong. So when they come calling, beware what you say and how you say it. AS often as they get things wrong, many also have their own bias and no matter what you say, they will distort it to meet the point they want to make. Fair and balanced? Blah!

When I was referred reporter
Karen Matthews from the AP, I could tell by the tone of her questions there was an axe to grind:

"I am working on a story about rubber rooms. As you probably know, the DOE says about 650 to 700 teachers are in these reassignment centers drawing their full salary for doing nothing. Is this something that you are concerned about? Are there people I may not have thought of who I should speak to about this issue?"

I was one of the people she spoke to. Nothing, not one word, of what I said, made the article.

Naturally, the rubber room gang was offended.

Judy Cohen said: I am embarrassed to be part of this article. I donated the photo to show the world the terrible conditions I sat in awaiting due process. Karen Matthews cherry picked things for her story that people said, including what I said. She had an agenda and I thought it was to help us. Who knew? When Jeremy Garrett, producer of The Rubber Room Movie, sent me her contact, I assumed she was an advocate for us. I was wrong. Somehow we must keep trying to get the word out otherwise we fade away in anonymity. Judith Cohen

Joy Hochstadt said:
Karen Matthews of AP called me for an interview about the RR. I told her the real story about the nonsense older teachers, whistle blowers were being accused of. How many people got sick there; how mean clerks are to professionals, how the fire stairs are blocked off, how they harassed me, but all she was interested in was the crap that she wrote about and I kept steering her to the real story until she said she had to call others! I would not speak to anyone at the tabloids but it appears AP is no better. The only fair story was in the NY Times by Sam Freedman. If no one agreed to speak to anyone but him then these other stories could not appear -- Matthews selectively took 1% of what I said, and 1% of what others said and made it into the rag she wanted or was being paid to make it into! Mumm in toto should the word to anyone we do not absolutely know and trust.

Here is TAGNYC's response:

To: Media

TAGNYC has so far received 11 emails forwarding to us a copy of the Associated Press article “700 NYC Teachers Paid to do Nothing”. The sentiment accompanying the forwards is one of anger, disgust, defeat, or all three sentiments. Representatives of TAGNYC were approached to speak to the reporter. We are extremely suspicious of the printed word which is often edited to fit the ‘sexy’ story the media wants to pedal and we cautioned people against speaking to the reporter. Although the article referenced the ludicrous nature of some charges, the main story of the article, and what people will remember, is that 700 hundred teachers are playing scrabble, cards, painting, etc., on the taxpayer’s dime. And this during a national fiscal crises!

So editors, DOE, UFT, New York City Council, NYS Legislature, lets get the FACTS straight. The facts are not ‘sexy’, but they reveal the truth that needs to be hidden so the private aspirations can be realized- political ambitions and increased paychecks and newspapers that sell. You know and we know: It is NOT about the children.


1. The Temporary Reassignment Centers (TRCs) are the crown jewels in Bloomberg and Klein’s plan to destroy teaching as a long term career in NYC’s inner city schools. The TRCs are the backdoor to the street. Principals can selectively place any teacher who is too old, costly, or outspoken in these rooms. In the majority of cases, competence has nothing to do with placement. This is the reason why the number of personnel removed from NYC schools has increased greatly within the last five years.

2. The TRCs were meant to hold personnel accused of ‘serious allegations’ that mandate removal from the school because such persons pose a ‘danger to the students" or the accusations warrant criminal investigation.

3. The Union contract does not protect the NYC teacher. State law, Education Law 3020-a, mandates that no tenured employee within the State of New York can be disciplined without a hearing. Suspension with pay is part of this law. The UFT copied this law into its contract.

4. The Union has decreased the protections NYC teachers get under the 3020-a Law. NYC teachers have less due process rights than our colleagues in the rest of the State. State law allows the UFT to modify the process .

5. The teachers and others in the Reassignment Centers (aka rubber rooms) have nothing to say about how long or how short their stay in the TRCs will be, contrary to the lie that Klein made in his February 8, 2009 interview on Eyewitness News Up Close. Repeat, persons in the TRCs have no way to hurry or delay the process.

6. There is nothing in the UFT contract which stops the DOE from assigning work to persons in the TRCs. The DOE is the employer and as such can assign tasks. Humans interact. It is not human to sit and stare for 6 hours 40 minutes.

7. A tremendous injustice is being committed against many competent and dedicated teachers. Incompetence should be rooted out but we can assure you that that is not what is happening. And that is a fact and can be investigated by anyone with the integrity to NEED to know the truth about what is happening in the inner city schools under the Bloomberg -Klein administration.


bcc: Press, Education Committee of City Council, NYS Assembly Education Committee, R. Weingarten, J.Klein


Matt said...

You fail to mention that the AP did have one fact completely correct. Rubber room teachers draw full salary while doing nothing. Taxpayers pay for them to do absolutely nothing. Sorry but facts are facts. The public school system is a complete and utter failure and must be abolished immediately. Not only it is terribly inefficient, it is also funded by extortion ("taxpayer money". What kind of lesson are children being taught when their education is funded in this manner?

Anonymous said...

Yes you do forget to mention that...

Anonymous said...

The health care system is a complete and utter failure and must be abolished immediately.

The American war effort in Afganistan is complete and utter failure and the army must be abolished immediately.