The Rubber Room

Pop quiz!

What do you do with a teacher who

a) causes trouble

b) loses his / her cool

c) does something inappropriate

d) someone, for some reason, doesn’t like him or her

e) any of the above  — or other — reasons

The fill-in-the-blank answer for New York City school teachers: Send ’em to the rubber room, according to a This American Life story. A room where they’re exiled to sit — idle — for seven hours a day, months and years at a time for some true or fabricated trespass. Time spent with others who are in the same purgatory position. (Enter visions of Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit.”)

The story rang a familiar tone with me as I thought to the crap that I dealt with, slightly different flavor of a similar idea, and remembered a Seattle Times story about Glenda Williams, a vice principal who was exiled from her school and upwardly mobile career after she complained about sexual harassment. For her complaints, Williams was stuffed in a library with no duties, demoted to a teacher position and then held in purgatory when no teaching assignment was given to her. She sued Seattle Public Schools and a jury awarded her a $672,000 judgement for a hostile workplace and retaliation.

Oh the creative ways that human resources can dissuade employees from exercising their rights.

Trailer for the soon-to-be released “Rubber Room” movie, a documentary about the New York City Department of Education’s “rubber room” for exiled teachers, below.


3 Responses

  1. Thank you for posting this.

  2. Served time in the Rubber Room. Wrote novel based loosely on my experience, “Confessions of a Rogue Teacher”(IUniverse). To purchase call 1 800 – AUTHORS, or visit

    Process is long. Fire everybody who shouldn’t teach. Protect innoocent wrongly accused, or sent there for bogus reasons, namely retribution from school officials, themselves not always kosher. Speed up process.

  3. Served time in Rubber room and wrote novel “Confessions of a Rogue Teacher”,loosely based on my experience. Process is long. Fire those who don’t belong in a classroom, protect the innocent. falsely accused. Visit 1-800 – Authors, or visit

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