Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chapter Leaders and Rubber Rooms

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/


Anonymous said...

What! It is our understanding that you called upon the union to work with you when you were sent to the rubber room. You personally called the president and was she not responsive? This was mentioned at the delegate assembly. Why not include the entire story Jeff?

Chapter leaders in the rubber room, as well as all members receive personalized attention from the Union and they are all provided with an attorney.

Jeff, why be disengenious...you should know and share the special actions that the union takes on behalf of the union reps. Care to share info on PERB charges??? Or do you want to complain and exclude attempts made on your behalf as well as other chapter leaders...convenient!

Chaz said...

How about SCI investigations? They lie more than OSI.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering why I feel like I just read only part of a story.

Anonymous said...

I have recently decided to leave teaching.

It is unbelievable to me the amount of disrespect and harassment one must suffer, as punishment it seems, for experiencing the desire to help kids learn.

Kids, good luck. Some teachers have had it.

Anonymous said...

As a start the principals who file frivolous charges against veteran teachers should be named. This, of course, will be over the muddled protests of the union leadership. I am not saying that they themselves should be sent to the rubber room on trumped-up charges...just named. Let's show some guts.
As it is now there is no down side for principals to dispatch teachers to rubber rooms. Why WOULDN'T they continue to do just that.
And to the first anonymous: Nice try at misdirection. the post is not about 'Jeff' at all. Please re-read the posty or stop your own disengenuous commentary.

Anonymous said...

Wrong, at the exec board, Randi did not say it was too expensive! What I attempted to point in utilizing Jeff as an example (as you did in the blog..so following the lead) was that his Union through support behind him while he was chapter leader. Was it one time or two times that the principal was removed? And having an attorney assigned and taking the case to PERB, all the way. Perhaps the findings were not suitable, however support was provided to him as a chapter leader and as a member..as it should be. Let's be clear, the blog referenced Jeff...and let's get the facts straight.

Anonymous said...

Jeff is mentioned but he is not the point. I believe, unless I am seeing things, the story is about the current practice of banishing Chapter Leaders and other veteran teachers to rubber rooms. The blog included an extensive description of the 35-year teacher (not Jeff) and Chapter Leader currently banished to the rubber room.
One would think principals would be rather circumspect in their dealings with chapter leaders. Apparently not.
Your response focused on Jeff, which reminds me, Why doesn't the union hire investigators of its own? Or at least augment the NYSUT attorney's office with investigative paralegals?
As a start, how do you feel about publicly naming and shaming these principals?

Anonymous said...

Once a chapter leader is in the rubber room, the principal should be named and shamed.

ed notes online said...

Anon 6:29pm/6:51am
Clearly these comments can only be coming from Randi herself based on the detail she provides and her focus on Jeff. There is no one else in the union who pays so much attention to this stuff and at the DA Wed she said she read the resolution on the blogs.

Notice the lawyer tactic she uses so often to change the terms of the debate to Jeff rather than the way the union has allowed chapter leaders to be threatened. Our case study and the union's advice to "sit tight" while the staff in the school are now learning and lunching during their lunch hours is indicative.

And note how she had the resolution rewritten and passed out as their motion, taking out a few things that gave it teeth. So much for a "grandstanding opposition without meaning" as quoted in the Unity leaflet handed out Weds.

You can pass any number of resolutions but with a collaborative union without spine nothing will change for chapter leaders under the gun just as it didn't when Ed Notes raised an even stronger resolution 10 years ago and Randi opposed it. How have things been going for chapter leaders since then?

Randi- don't you have more important things to do - like selling out the teachers in Washington DC?

Under Assault said...

This back-and-forth exposes the crap out the UFT mindset:

Make deals when you want to, abandon CLs and delegates when it doesn't matter much, and undermine them in all kinds of ways when you politically need to.