Rubber Room on “This American Life”

Yesterday, I heard a pretty interesting story on the public radio show “This American Life.” The overall theme of the show was called “Human Resources,” and it will be available at this link (I think?) starting on Monday. The lead story was “The Rubber Room.”

The rubber room is essentially a holding facility for teachers in the New York City school system who have been suspended for something and are awaiting some kind of hearing and/or reassignment. Basically, these people have to show up to this place and do nothing (well, they can play cards, sleep, chat, etc.) for seven hours a day and get paid for it. On face-value, this might seem like some kind of scam. But as the story suggests, it is far from a happy-go-lucky kind of arrangement. Interesting stuff.

They are trying to make a documentary movie about this, and there’s a web site called where you can view a trailer, learn more about the whole set-up, etc.

One thought on “Rubber Room on “This American Life””

  1. Dear,
    While preparing for my 7 and a half minutes of fame on Montel William’s Air Across America Radio show yesterday, May 8th, I checked out your article on the Rubber Room. Would love to talk about it.
    My self-published, first person point of view novel, Confessions of a Rogue Teacher(iUniverse, 2008), takes the reader through its Dantean Labyrinth.
    Though my fictional protagonist Manuel Quesada has some of me, it’s not me. I wrote a novel, not a memoir. A memoir holds faithful to events, often stranger than fiction, and characters, often bigger than life. A novelist creates his own universe, rearranging the world and altering time to better tell a story. But my universe conforms to real life and a world more real still, peopled by true flesh and blood characters, some rogue teacher, not all good or all bad.
    Don Quixote is and isn’t Miguel de Cervantes. Huck Finn is and is not Mark Twain. Manuel Jesus Quesada is and is not George Colon, though there’s a lot of Jorge in him, Papo from the South Bronx.
    Mr. Colon never physically fought a student after his first year, when he was jumped outside South Bronx High School while trying to stop a fight. Mr. Quesada does in his twentieth year. Mr. Colon came close in the last of his very difficult thirty years – but never did, as many colleagues did.
    Unlike Mr. Quesada, Mr. Colon overcame the temptations of flirting female students and controlled his own passions – unlike many of his colleagues.
    His emotional involvement with students and fondness for own words did land him in the Rubber Room of lore and legend where rogue teachers go when plucked from the classroom and assigned administrative work. After the bureaucrats decided he didn’t pose a threat to children, Mr. Colon returned to a classroom, without having to stir.
    His UFT lawyer took care of everything and Mr. Colon enjoyed his R and R from the great school wars, shuffling papers, doing crossword puzzles, reading novels and working on his other novel, Blair House. No lessons to plan, no papers to grade. Not a bad life, really, although he did yearn for chalk dust. He even got a bonus when payroll failed to deduct the many sick days he took and he wound up with a little extra cash on his retirement this past June. And yes, the system paid a substitute while he took his rest.
    Rage at indignities suffered at the hands of a troubled student and the indifference of administrators and deans overcome Mr. Quesada, unlike Mr. Colon, and the bureaucrats yanked out of his classroom. Unlike Mr. Colon, he goes on a downward spiral and in a weakened state, he can’t resist the temptations of his teacher’s pet. Like all protagonist, Manny Quesada must resolve his own problem.

    Attach, find bio and sell sheet. Thanks.

    George Colon

    851A Underhill Avenue Confessions of a Rogue Teacher
    Bronx, New York, 10473
    Home: (718) 892-5169 1-800 – AUTHORS

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