Daily Archives: December 10, 2010

The ridiculousness of the “rubber room” in NYC. And a cool homecoming game for a kid named Jimmer

There is a place, in New York City, where public school teachers go who are being investigated for misconduct. They are paid their full salary, and often for years, sit around and do nothing while the caterpillar-like pace of the justice system in NYC schools plays itself out.
It costs the city $30 million per year, to pay teachers, many of whom don’t deserve to be called that, to sit around and do nothing. (I first heard about this, and was outraged since I’m the child of two outstanding former New York City teachers,  last year on a fabulous “This American Life episode. Check it out here.
It’s disgusting, a waste of time for these teachers and a waste of serious money, too.
Until this year, when mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to finally close the “rubber room,” and ordered cases to be sped up.
Except, as the N.Y. Times reported this week, the “rubber room” sorta still exists. Many of these educators are doing nothing, all day, while being paid. Some do a little.
It’s unbelievable to me that there isn’t something more productive the city can have these teachers do with their time. And it kills me that teachers who are totally guilty (and some of them certainly are) still get to keep their salaries and twiddle their thumbs all day, because of all-powerful teachers union and because justice is so slow.

You want one of the reasons education reform is so slow coming to this country? Look no further than the Rubber Room.

**When I worked there from 2002-2005, I grew to really like the tiny town of Glens Falls, N.Y. It’s only an hour from Albany, the people are nice, and sure, there’s not much to do, but it’s a friendly little place where I had great fun.
Anyway, there haven’t been a ton of great athletes from Glens Falls in, well, ever. A few here and there (who remembers wrestler Hacksaw Jim Duggan? Anyone?), but not many.
A few years ago, though, this kid named Jimmer Fredette (yeah, that’s really his first name) started making noise at Glens Falls High School on the basketball court. I saw him as a freshman, and the kid was phenomenal. Sweet jump shot, great driving ability, and a winner’s mentality. Fredette grew up to lead the team to the state championship game, and now is a senior at BYU and a sure-fire NBA draft pick next year.
One of the wonderful things about college basketball is that oftentimes, during superstar’s career, a team will schedule a game in the star’s hometown so his old friends and family could see him play.
That happened with Jimmer and BYU Wednesday night; they flew 2,000 miles across the country to play a game at the tiny Glens Falls Civic Center, where the game was sold out. How big of a deal was this? ALL other high school basketball games within 30 miles were cancelled Wednesday, so everyone could go watch the local hero return a conqueror.
Of course Jimmer’s team won, and everyone went home happy, and it was just a nice moment for a kid who’s done everything right to get to come home and be embraced by those who knew him when, and have supported him so.
Very rarely in December does  a man living in Florida wish he’d been in snowy, upstate New York on one night.
But I definitely wish I’d been there to experience the “Jimmer Game.”

**And since it’s Friday and you’ve read this far, go ahead, take a minute and watch this hilarious scene from a great “West Wing” episode.