In an attack on teachers unions, Dick Morris falsely claimed that, because of New York City's contract with its teachers union, 4,000 "incompetent" New York City teachers "go to rubber rooms every day" where they "read the paper and watch TV." In fact, the New York City teachers union opposed the "rubber rooms" and the city has closed them while streamlining the disciplinary process for teachers with the union's approval.
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Dick Morris Falsehood: 4,000 Bad Teachers Being Paid To Watch TV In "Rubber Rooms"
Morris: NYC Is Paying Teachers Who "Are So Incompetent They Are Not Allowed To See Students." On Fox News, Dick Morris claimed that, while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is currently unpopular because of the bill he recently pushed cutting bargaining rights, this perception will change once the public learns more about teachers unions. As evidence, Morris stated that, because of a union contract, New York City has been unable to fire 4,000 teachers who "are so incompetent they are not allowed to see students. They go to rubber rooms every day and read the paper and watch TV and we pay them full salary." From Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
MORRIS: Americans realize that it is only by limiting the power of the teachers union that you can get rid of bad teachers, promote good ones, and give parents the choice as to where to send their children. And now that Walker has taken those issues off the table in the collective bargaining process, real education reform can happen.
DICK MORRIS: And there will, of course, have to be lay-offs in any case in the schools. The question is who you lay-off? In New York City, I'll give you a great example, there are 4,000 teachers that are so incompetent they're not allowed to see students. They go to rubber rooms every day and read the paper and watch TV and we pay them full salary. We can't fire them because of the union benefits.
Mayor Bloomberg has to fire 4,000 teachers. He wants to fire those teachers, and the union agreement won't let him. He's going to have to fire all the new, young, enthusiastic, creative teachers who we've hired in the last three years. So it's things like that that are really going to drive people nuts.
And when you understand that that's what the union contract is about and that's what Walker has saved Wisconsin from, I think he's going to do very well. [Fox News' On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, 3/10/11]
In Fact, The "Rubber Rooms" Were Closed In NYC With The Support Of Teachers Union
New York Times: June 28, 2010 Last Day Of 'Rubber Rooms' For Teachers. From The New York Times:
Monday was the last day of school for the city's 1 million students. But at the "rubber room" on West 125th Street, it was also the end of an era.
For the last several years, teachers accused of incompetence or wrongdoing have been forced into rubber rooms, formally called Temporary Reassignment Centers, where they receive a full salary but do not work while they wait for the Department of Education or a hearing officer to decide their fate. But in April, city officials and the teachers' union agreed to eliminate the rooms, which had been a source of embarrassment for all. Beginning in the fall, those teachers will perform administrative duties or be sent home if they are deemed a threat to students. [The New York Times, 6/28/10]
NYC Dept. Of Education: Closing Rubber Rooms Was A "Landmark Agreement" With Teachers Unions To Fix Process For Dealing With Those Charged With Incompetence Or Misconduct. The New York City Department of Education reported that the decision to close rubber rooms in New York City was a "landmark agreement" with the teachers union, to fix a "broken process" and "ensure that [teachers] do not have to wait for months or years to have their cases heard":
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Michael Mulgrew today announced a landmark agreement to eliminate temporary reassignment centers, or "rubber rooms," where teachers accused of misconduct or incompetence are assigned pending resolution of their cases. Under the new agreement, most teachers accused of misconduct or incompetence will be assigned to perform administrative work in Department of Education offices or given non-classroom duties in their schools while their cases are resolved.
"Despite everything we've accomplished together to improve our City's public schools, we still have major reforms and improvements to tackle--and that is exactly what we are doing," Mayor Bloomberg said. "Fixing this broken process gets us all back to what we want to be doing, giving our kids the education they need and deserve."
"The rubber rooms are a symptom of a disciplinary process that has not worked for anyone--not the kids, not the schools, and not the teachers," UFT President Mulgrew said. "This agreement is designed to get teachers out of the rubber rooms and to ensure that they do not have to wait for months or years to have their cases heard." [NYC Department of Education, 4/15/10]
Teachers Union: Fixing Rubber Rooms Problem "Has Been A High Priority For Me." In a statement published by the Huffington Post, president of United Federation of Teachers, Michael Mulgrew, stated rubber rooms "don't work for schools, students or teachers." From the Huffington Post:
Rubber rooms, where New York City teachers can sit for years while being investigated or while going through a hearing process, don't work for anyone. They don't work for schools, students or teachers.
Fixing this problem has been a high priority for me ever since I became President of the UFT eight months ago.
In a groundbreaking agreement between the UFT and the Department of Education, we have agreed to shut the rubber rooms down; from now on teachers under investigation or facing charges will generally be employed in administrative tasks in schools or DOE offices.
Closing the rubber rooms is an important step, but in order to ensure that the overall teacher disciplinary process is both faster and more fair, we have also established limits on how long investigations and hearings may take. [Huffington Post, 4/15/10]
Teachers Union: Disciplinary Process For Teachers Will Now Be "Faster And More Fair." From Mulgrew's Huffington Post piece:
Closing the rubber rooms is an important step, but in order to ensure that the overall teacher disciplinary process is both faster and more fair, we have also established limits on how long investigations and hearings may take.
There will be a cap of 60 days on how long most teachers accused of misconduct can be removed from a classroom while being investigated and before being charged. For teachers accused of incompetence the limit will be 10 days. Teachers not charged within these time limits will be returned to their classrooms; for those whose investigations result in charges, we have made arrangements to speed up the hearing process, including plans to increase in the number of arbitrators who hear such cases.
Why is this important?
Teachers sitting in rubber rooms cost the Department of Education an estimated $30 million a year, an unacceptable expense as our schools face dramatic budget cuts. We expect to realize substantial savings by shortening a process that now can take years into one that takes months or even weeks. [Huffington Post, 4/15/10]