Education

Is Our Teachers Learning?

New York City's worst teachers still get paid. According to Steven Brill of The New Yorker, the so-called "Rubber Room," the room that houses teachers with complaints of misconduct or incompetence against them for as long as it takes for a hearing, which can be three years. More than 600 teachers across the city spend their school year inside various Rubber Rooms receiving their normal salaries, accruing pensions, and like their classroom-bound counterparts, taking summers off. The existence of the Rubber Room highlights how difficult it can be to fire low-performing teachers in New York City, and underscores the standoff between the teacher's union and the municipal government. The divide is deep. One Queens principal said of the teacher's union president, she "would protect a dead body in the classroom," while a Rubber Room resident said, "Before [Mayor] Bloomberg and [school chancellor] Klein, everyone knew that an incompetent teacher would realize it and leave on their own."