Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Leonie Haimson for UFT President

I can't tell you how many people have said Leonie Haimson would make a better UFT leader than you know who. Here she responds to a reporter's question on rubber rooms with a more rigorous defense of teachers in a way I have never heard from the UFT, which tries to obfuscate (throw up flack) the issue so as not to make it appear they are making too much of a defense of teachers.

Q from reporter:
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 am copying this message to Patrick Sullivan, Manhattan rep to the PEP who has made this one of his central concerns. Yes I think all parents are concerned about the incredible waste of manpower and money involved in more than 600 teachers sitting idly in the rubber room, month after month, when class sizes are going up and kids do not get adequate attention.

Not to mention the violation of human rights this entails. No charges are brought against these teachers for years at a time. Some of them haven’t even been informed of what the allegations are that were made against them. In some ways, it’s our Guantanamo.

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters

I was contacted by the reporter and sent this message
I'd be glad to give you some background on many of the people in the rubber room, who are indeed being paid to do nothing. But that decision to have them do nothing is not theirs, but the DOE's. I can guarantee there is some useful work they could be doing even if they have to be away from kids. Leonie hit the nail on the head about Gitmo.

Yesterday I spoke to a former colleague who has been in the RR for 3 years. Another colleague recently got out after 14 months. The "charges" against them are rediculous. Yet they are forced to sit in the same space with some teachers who are truly disturbed. That is like putting people who get parking tickets in the same cell with murderers. The goal is to make things so untenable they will resign.

Most RR who get back to their schools (and most do, some after a serious fine) are so scarred and scared they are never the same and wouldn't talk on the record because they think they are permanent targets.

The other day I was at a robotic tournament and a young lady who was volunteering was doing a fantastic job. One of the organizers was so impressed he said we have to get her more involved and introduced me. In our brief conversation she told me she is a former Teach for America who is a grad of the rubber room, which led to her leaving teaching. She said she would love to expose what is going on.

Norm Scott
Commentary on education:


NYC Educator said...

Best idea I've heard in a long time.

Leonie Haimson said...

I have never been a teacher, am not eligible to run, and would make a terrible union leader!

But thanks anyway Norm.

ed notes online said...


Well, Randi was also never really a teacher and we can do for you what was done for her - wave a magic wand and make you eligible. As for a terrible union leader, a major role is to make a rational defense of teachers, parents, students and a democratic educational process. No one does it better than you.

Ceolaf said...

Randi was a teacher -- though admittedly so that she could be a UFT leader and not for very long.

Leonie is right. She would not be a good UFT leader. Being a union leader, especially the leader of a large union like the UFT, is not an easy or simple job. Unless one has a good idea of the various aspects of such a position, it is silly to suggest that anyone for the position.

ed notes online said...

I was being just a bit facetious. But there is irony in that a parent leader has been so much clearer on so many issues crucial to teachers than the UFT leaders.

ace said...

Reading this article seriously angers me. Thousands of people have lost their jobs in this s**thole economy and yet these "teachers" are paid to do NOTHING. ALL of these 700 teachers need to be given the pink slip pronto. There are more QUALIFIED individuals than these 700 teachers that can DO the job and make a difference in kids lives.

These 700 "teachers" are NOTHING but a WASTE of taxpayers money. I'm surprised there's not a lynch mob organizing in New York. These teachers give others a bad name. They give the whole education/school system concept a bad name. Nobody needs to wonder why education in general is a "joke".

This article is just sickening beyond belief.