NYT Education Writer: Putting 1% of Public School Teachers in Rubber Rooms Is "Understandable"


New York Times education writer Michael Winerip has a piece up today criticizing the way that Steven Brill treats public school teachers in his new book Class Warfare: Inside the Fight to Fix America's Schools. Along the way Winerip inadvertently reveals how New York City can continue tolerating its intolerable "rubber rooms" for teachers not good enough to teach but not bad enough to fire:

Until this project, Mr. Brill, 61, had rarely written about education. Nor was he well acquainted with public schools — he graduated from Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and sent his three children to private schools.

The book grew from his New Yorker article two years ago about rubber rooms, where the city's most dysfunctional teachers spent idle days, collecting salaries while waiting months or years for their cases to be resolved. "I see a guy asleep with his head on a desk and alarm clock," Mr. Brill recalled in an interview. "I see another guy, if he were in a room with my daughter, I'd call the police."

There were 744 teachers in rubber rooms at the time. For some, that is understandable in a system of 77,000 teachers; to Mr. Brill, it was a prime example of a union more interested in protecting its members than in educating children.

Mr. Brill, a writer ("Teamsters," 1978), lawyer (Yale '75) and entrepreneur (founder of Court TV and the American Lawyer publication), knows that every story needs a villain or an evil force. In "Class Warfare," the problem is not the poverty the children experience, the violence they see in their homes and neighborhoods or the lack of vocabulary that the sons and daughters of adults who did not finish high school often take with them to kindergarten.

The villains of Mr. Brill's story are bad teachers coddled by unions.

Emphasis mine, because of wow. Reason on rubber rooms here.