Sunday, June 6, 2010

Rubber Souls

They are true nowhere men and nowhere women. People who were in the rubber room and released back to the schools after being found innocent or fined for some infraction. Forever marked. Living in fear. Walking targets. Many become ATRs. Given the lowest level assignments. Forced to grovel for any crumb.

A lot of them are older - in their 50's. Many are second career people with not enough years in the system to retire, even if offered a buyout.

Then there are ATRs in this same age and pre-retirement status category. They go from school to school begging for a permanent job. I met one woman in her 50's who told me she was treated with a lot of suspicion by her younger colleagues when she got to the school, given a chance by a sympathetic principal – for teachers looking for jobs these people begin to seem like gods. She admitted she wasn't up on the new terminology at first, but learned fast. She was a jack of all trades and offered to do anything - even move people's cars when needed, giving up her lunch hours and preps, hoping the principal would hire her permanently for next year.

City Hall News chose UFT leader Michael Mulgrew as one of the 12 most effective labor leaders. with his 91% victory being the single thing they could point to (do you wonder what the results would be if the election were held today a scant 3 months later?)

Ask these nowhere people just how effective the Mulgrew/Weingarten UFT leadership has been.


  1. Why do most rubber room inmates continue to use the UFT lawyers? Is money everything? Maybe you need to invest in yourself?? Perhaps if we collectively approached a firm, we could get a good rate. What do others think??

  2. I asked what the new teacher evaluation scheme would look like for ATR's. I was told the city had to come back to the table in order to dream up with yet another scheme.

  3. There are many wrong perceptions about NYSYT attorneys. They may be motivated to settle as many cases as they can, but the private attorneys are not different in this regard. From all I heard and experienced, the NYSUT attorneys are pretty good after their clients, teachers, have passed the stage of settlement. Private attorneys whom cost thousands to retain, really do not provide much value to most cases which DOE demands a few thousands to settle.
    If termination is a really possibility, private attorney may provide some emotional support in addition to the legal services.

  4. I wouldn't automatically disparage NYSUT attorneys. There are many stories of people hiring lawyers and getting screwed. I witnessed one private attorney in action who was just so unprepared and tried to use bluster and attacks on the hearing officer and the DOE lawyer to bluff his way through. I think he lost a winnable case if the teacher had used an experienced nysut attorney.

  5. As to the issue of lawyers, a general remark is individual cases and individual attorneys vary. Experience and /or prior successes do not guarantee success in a future case.

    There are also more cost effective approaches. For example, one might want use the NYSUT lawyer because having a private attorney handle the entire case can be very costly (think $20K), but still consult with a private attorney as soon as one is sent to the Rubber Room since in many (all?) cases one gets no legal advice from NYSUT unless and until one is charged.

    It is probably very wise to consult with an experienced private attorney BEFORE being interviewed by the DOE investigator(s). The UFT sends someone to your interview(s) to "protect" your rights, but that person may not be particularly helpful as a reasonable person may expect.

    But the main point of this article is well taken: How well do folks fare AFTER one is sent back to the classroom. There is a good chance there may be issues some internal (emotional), some external.

    Personally, I think that keeping people in their buildings but reassigned to some clerical duty is not at all a good thing for many reasons. If this actually happens, some organizations should consider offer some support group services.


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