Every few years, the issue of public school teachers in rubber rooms gets explored. These are teachers who have been removed from duty—whether they've been rightly or unfairly accused— while their cases are investigated...and all while they are still paid. (Remember the Bronx school bomb scare allegedly caused by a teacher? Well, that teacher was upset that he might be transferred to a rubber room over allegations he punched a student.) Now the Associated Press delves into the bizarro world of the rubber room, the holding pens where teachers are kept.

The AP describes the scene, "The 700 or so teachers can practice yoga, work on their novels, paint portraits of their colleagues — pretty much anything but school work. They have summer vacation just like their classroom colleagues and enjoy weekends and holidays through the school year...Because their union contract makes it extremely difficult to fire them." The teachers are still paid $70,000/year; the United Federation of Teachers said that while the UFT and Department of Education have agreed to reduce the teachers' time in rubber rooms, "No one wants teachers who don't belong in the classroom. However, we cannot neglect the teachers' rights to due process."

One teacher, Jennier Saunders, who spent about three years in a rubber room (or "reassignment center") because she was "charged with having a student sit in my class with a hat on, singing," said, "Most people in that room are depressed." Another, Michael Thomas, said he was in the rubber room for over a year after accusing the assistant principal of fudging test results, "The principal wants you out, you're gone."

Some try to make the best of it: Judith Cohen, (pictured, in the rubber room) who says she was "charged with using abusive language when a girl cut her with scissors," said, "The day just seemed to crawl by until I started painting." David Suker, who claims he was in limbo after being (falsely) accused of throwing a student's test sign-up sheet in the garbage during an argument, said, "It's sort of peaceful knowing that you're going to work to do nothing."

John Stossel also covered this for Reason in 2006 and the Village Voice looked at rubber rooms in 2007—one teacher said, "It's high school on steroids. Or maybe a mixture between a minimum security prison and a senior home."