Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Problem With Idle Teachers? Hire More Arbitrators

The news about New York City's idle teachers went national today, highlighting the tens of millions spent on teachers that sit around all day on the taxpayers' dime. Several hundred of them exist here and there are many other cities, like Los Angeles, that have a similar problem because teachers who are in limbo are protected by their unions so that they aren't just thrown out on the street because some kid or fellow educator accuses them of wrongdoing. It is a great story because the waste of money is just ridiculous. Yet the solution is incredibly simple.

From The Huffington Post:

Teachers awaiting disciplinary hearings around the nation typically are sent home, with or without pay, Karen Horwitz, a former Chicago-area teacher who founded the National Association for the Prevention of Teacher Abuse. Some districts find non-classroom work _ office duties, for example _ for teachers accused of misconduct.

New York City's reassignment centers have existed since the late 1990s, Forte said. But the number of employees assigned to them has ballooned since Bloomberg won more control over the schools in 2002. Most of those sent to rubber rooms are teachers; others are assistant principals, social workers, psychologists and secretaries.

Once their hearings are over, they are either sent back to the classroom or fired. But because their cases are heard by 23 arbitrators who work only five days a month, stints of two or three years in a rubber room are common, and some teachers have been there for five or six.

Being in the "rubber room" for up to three years is appalling. Having 23 people who work once of twice a week to remedy teacher misconduct situations is simply a bad case of mismanagement. So let the teachers keep their strong protections, this isn't a case of a union having too much power. If anything, with so many people making complaints about other teachers for minor infractions (just read the rest of the article to get a picture of what I mean), the teachers need to be properly protected until an arbitrator can determine if there really was a problem in the first place.

The simple solution of course.....hire more arbitrators, or simply make the ones the city has work more hours. Easy. Simple. Case closed.