This past Sunday, Showtime’s Season Finale of “The Affair” featured a NYC rubber room!! I could not believe it. I thought that rubber rooms were reserved for documentaries like “The Rubber Room” or “Waiting for Superman.” As someone who is well versed in education policy it was great to see a mostly coveted education practice making its way into the public sphere through the realm of television.
The video doesn’t offer commentary. In the show, we see Noah, the main character having sex with another person in the school, then going into the principal’s office, then showing up at the NYC Dept. of Education. There he punches a time card and sits down. He learns from his neighbor, Victor, that Victor has been waiting 2 years for his resolution to come of the accusation. Noah asks if he can get a newspaper and the “proctor” says “If you leave this room, you are quitting your job. In order to keep your job, you need to be in this room until 3:15 everyday.”
Noah asks if he can use the restroom and the proctor says “You need to give me your license and I’ll give you a hall pass.”
Later, when he admits to his wife that he’s been accused of sleeping with someone at his school and hasn’t been to work, she says to him, “You’ve been in the rubber room?” Like it is something everyone knows about! Except, apparently this reviewer of the show:
What the hell is a rubber room? Did I hear Helen right when she was talking to Noah about his many bed buddies during their time apart? That’s what she said when referring to him being caught with another teacher in school, right? Is that some sort of weird Montauk slang? I’ve never heard it, though then again, I could just be crazy.
Everyone else got it:
He casts a lascivious eye to a pretty fellow teacher at school and proceeds to have sex with her right there in the classroom. But he’s busted and sent to some sort of grown-up detention for disorderly teachers. He arrives at the Department of Education and learns that he just has to sit around and kill time indefinitely. His seat mate, Victor, who has read Infinite Jest twice is incredibly well read and has been hanging out in this “rubber room” for two years. Noah decides to make use of his time and start back on his book.
Sexual recklessness has had consequences personally and professionally. Helen has kicked him out of the house; schtupping in the classroom after school has resulted in Noah being removed from the classroom. (The idea of a detention room for teachers who are suspended with pay is a solution with ‘government bureaucracy’ written all over it.)
Noah was sent to the infamous NYC Dept. of Education reassignment Center or “Rubber Room”, a not very nice holding pen where teachers who have been accused of wrongdoing wait for their hearings. They do collect full pay as they are technically not guilty of anything during the wait.
As a teacher of 39 years for NYC I am proud that I never had to spend a minute in the “rubber room”. They were supposed to do away with that wonderful establishment of punishing us and giving us secretarial duties in some cases. It was not a happy place especially if you did nothing wrong.
Interesting.. I’m a young teacher and have never heard of such a thing. Is it only for professors with tenure? Or is it something used on the East Coast?
New York City. You might be able to find the New Yorker article on it and there also was a documentary film made about The Rubber Room a few years ago
May be unique to the NYC Dept. Of Ed, but boy is it infamous here in NY.
I worked in the Board of Education for a couple years as a school secretary. There is a “rubber room” and they do nothing there, but get paid for it. Most of the time its cause the teacher did something indecent, immoral or aggressive.
I have a friend who has been in the Rubber Room for 2 years because one of her students jokingly reported to a friend that she never checks for homework 😦 even if true, does not meet any of the above criteria 😦
You can thank your teacher’s union for the rubber room!