As principal power has grown, the devastation of so many school chapters can be traced to intimidation of chapter leaders. When a chapter leader (CL) is sent to the rubber room, shockwaves run through the school. Unfortunately they do not run through the UFT hierarchy. Almost 10 years ago, Education Notes presented a resolution at the Delegate Assembly calling for protections for chapter leaders and an extraordinary response on the part of the union when CLs come under attack. The leadership opposed it, saying chapter leaders already had enough protections and it was overwhelmingly defeated. In June 2006, ICE's Jeff Kaufman at a UFT Exec Bd meeting called on the UFT to initiate its own investigations instead of allowing a biased OSI to do its hack jobs without monitoring. Randi Weingarten opposed it, saying it was too expensive. (Have you checked on how your dues are being spent?) It was turned down by a vote of 80-5.
A case study of a chapter leader recently sent to the rubber room
- Currently teaching pre-k.
- 35 years of teaching. Principal urging retirement since June 2008, and threatening if doesn't do so.
- Every time assisted a teacher, received negative letter(s) in file the next day.
- Resisted principal attempt to institute Lunch 'n Learn where teachers are forced to give up lunch hours.
- Sent to rubber room March 16, 2009. Three weeks later, principal instituted Lunch 'n Learn.
- Received charges from State Education Dept., School District Employer-Employee Relations Unit on March 19,2009. Charges include verbal abuse and corporal punishment dated from the 2007/8 school year, violating the 180day limit.
- Insubordination charges for refusing to sign letter on Feb 1, 2009 voluntarily resigning.
- UFT Response: Sit tight and do nothing. Not time to file an Art 2 (shouldn't tip your hand on type of defense).Also do not share info with fellow denizens in RR. Result: UFT cone of silence serves to keep teachers isolated.
Resolution on Teacher Reassignment Centers (Rubber Rooms)
- Chapter Leaders and others have been sent to a TRC after asserting members' union rights, questioning and challenging principals on illegal mandates and practices;
- In addition to Chapter Leaders, Leadership Academy Principals have also targeted teachers who show independence or otherwise are perceived as threats to authority;
- Sending teachers to the rubber room can be a career breaker for teachers, regardless of the merits of the charges;
- Threats of rubber room undermine UFT chapters and have a chilling effect on the professionalism and independence of all teachers;
- The number of teachers sent to rubber rooms has escalated since the beginning of mayoral control which has led to an increased level of autocratic rule in many schools;
- OSI has investigated in a biased manner;
- The UFT will set up hotline for Chapter Leaders sent to rubber room and there will be an immediate response, including a demand immediate information about charges against the teacher, immediate legal assistance, a letter to principals putting them on notice that without a substantive emergency reason for rubber room placement there will be counter charges of harassment based on union/age/freedom of speech issues.
- After an initial rapid investigation of the circumstances, where there is a determination of harassment, the union will organize a daily picketing of the school until the harassed Chapter Leader is reinstated.
- The UFT will come up with a means to monitor OSI investigations.
Ice supports the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) march/rally from Battery Park to Tweed on May 14. Join this growing rank and file movement. Details at http://grassrootseducationmovement.blogspot.com/