The Rubber Room Still Exists

In 2008, This American Life did a story about New York City’s “rubber room”—a place where teachers accused of wrongdoing go to wait disciplinary action. The teachers sat idly in this room all day waiting for their matter to be cleared up, which often took years, and they were paid their full salaries to basically do nothing. After a lot of bad press, Mayor Bloomberg and the city’s teachers’ union finally agreed to shut down the “reassignment centers” in 2010.

Except they really never shut down. The Daily News reports that teachers are still bouncing around in rubber rooms, costing taxpayers about $22 million a year. One middle school teacher sat in an unused girl’s locker room for 13 months and collected more than $78,000 until he was finally fired last year for what he says was over an argument he had with his school’s principal. Michael Mulgrew, the head of the teachers’ union, says that the system has improved, but it looks like they still have a long way to go.

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