Gov. Chris Christie’s operation of the Newark schools wastes some $25 million a year in public funds to pay teachers who don’t teach–teachers who spend all day in so-called “rubber rooms” or at home, doing nothing to earn the money they are paid. It’s something he’ll never bring up in his presidential campaign trips to Iowa or New Hampshire–but New Jersey’s governor is OK with no-show school jobs in the state’s largest city.
This site has acquired a document, dubbed “Managed Choice,” that lists the names of 402 instructional employees who spend their days doing nothing and getting paid for it because they have lost their positions but cannot be taken off the payroll because most have perfectly good records. Ninety percent of the instructors are tenured. They are called “educators without placement”–or EWPS. They did not choose to be idle and they hate it–but it was Christie’s decision to put them there.
At a conservative estimate of an average salary of $60,000 per teacher, that represents some $25 million a year in taxpayer funds flushed down the sewer of corruption and ineptitude that is Christie’s control of the Newark schools. The figure is probably much larger because many of the EWPS teachers are experienced and at the higher end of the pay scale.
The list also does not include the scores of administrators who also have been transformed into “educators without placement”–or EWPS. That would add millions to the money wasted by Christie’s agent in Newark, state-imposed superintendent Cami Anderson.
Anderson’s administration faces a deficit of at least $57 million this year, a fiscal hole the Glen Ridge resident managed to dig for herself and the Newark schools in her more than three-year tenure. Christie, who constantly praises what a great job Anderson does, rewarded her wasteful spending and ineptitude this year by giving her another three-year contract. Christie owns the corruption in the Newark school administration. Unlike his claims about Fort Lee and the blockade of the George Washington Bridge, his stubby fingerprints are all over this scandal. He knows about this waste of public funds and he has encouraged it to continue.
One administrator EWP is Tony Motley, the former principal of the Bragaw Avenue School, an institution handed over to a privately-operated charter school chain whose principals have close business and personal ties to Anderson, former state Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf, and former Mayor Cory Booker, now a United States senator. Motley, a vice president of the union representing school administrators, was one of five principals removed from their jobs early this year for raising questions about Anderson’s “One Newark” plan. He never got his job back.
A few weeks ago, Motley told me he did “nothing” in his EWPS rubber room at 2 Cedar Street, Anderson’s headquarters. At times, he worked on his doctoral dissertation, he said.
The EWPS list for teachers is dated July 31, 2014. Some of the names may have been removed from that list–others have been added. Earlier this year, the Newark Teachers Union estimated that at least 300 teachers were EWPs so the number is apparently growing. No precise tally as of this date is available but hundreds of teacher and other school employees, through no personal fault of their own, are drawing paychecks without working.
The document bears this warning in, appropriately, red ink: “**Confidential . Internal use ONLY. Please do NOT redistribute** Internal Candidates – Available for Managed Choice.”
It’s no surprise Anderson would want to keep this list confidential, a secret. It is evidence both of massive waste of public funds and her ineptitude–all on Chris Christie’s watch. Neither he nor his education commissioner, David Hespe, has done anything to stop it. They are complicit.
EWPS are not teachers who have been brought up on tenure charges–or suspended. Most of these educational employees are in good standing. The huge list of unused personnel is a direct result of what Cami Anderson’s backers in the media call her “bold and sensible” reforms–like, for example, so-called “Renew schools.”
Anderson is claiming “Renew schools” are doing well–and The Star-Ledger unquestioningly echoes the boast–but she refuses to release the statistics that would prove her right or wrong. What is known about “Renew” and other “redesigned” schools is that principals willing to back Anderson are given a free hand in firing teachers without cause and sending them to EWPS central. They hire their friends and the people they don’t like go off to rubber rooms and collect salaries without providing educational the services they are capable of doing–and licensed to do.
Worse, Anderson is committed to hiring scores of Teach for America (TFA) graduates–and, indeed, she has been hiring them while sending veteran teachers to EWPs centers. Anderson herself was a TFA executive and the organization supports her goals of closing neighborhood schools and expanding charters.
They can’t be taken off the payroll because they haven’t done anything wrong–they apparently just haven’t struck the fancy of principals who want to “renew” their staffs.
Anderson tried to rid the schools of these teachers last year when she sought to obtain a waiver of lay off procedures from the state education department. Hespe hid the request in his vest pocket, never accepting or rejecting it–but that doesn’t mean he won’t bring the waiver up again.
The expensive transformation of teachers into professional zombies hanging around the Limbos of schools and 2 Cedar Street reveals a pattern that proves it’s part of Anderson’s distorted policies. The dismissal of teachers is not random and is not spread equally among all schools in all wards of the city. Rather, many teachers have been let go from schools in the South, West, and Central Wards that have received the Christie regime’s special attention, while the North and East Wards generally are untouched:
- Louis Munoz Marin–25
- William Horton–25
- West Side–20
- Newark Vocational–17
- Barringer Arts and Humanities–13
- Newark Bridges–13
- Louse Spencer–12
- Madison Street–12
The types of teachers assigned to the rubber rooms also reflect what Anderson is doing to disrupt Newark’s neighborhood public schools. By type of teacher, these are the most likely to lose their positions to “renewal” or “redesign”:
- Elementary school teachers–90
- Special education teachers–61
- Guidance counselors–23
- Physical education teachers–19
- Social workers–16
- Mathematics teachers–15
- Art teachers–13
- Technology coordinators–13
Some might also see a pattern in the rate of participation of assistant superintendents in the exiling of teachers to the EWPS gulag. Gary Beidleman presided over the most–with 79, followed by Roger Leon, 59, and Brad Haggerty, 51.
Anderson’s rubber rooms are only part of the story of how state control cheats Newark’s students and taxpayers from throughout New Jersey. Another side is the failure of Christie’s agent to provide appropriately licensed instructors for Newark’s children. In its next installment, this blog will introduce readers to a teacher who, after spending two years as a EWPS is now teaching outside his license–way outside his license.
You fail to mention Cami’s close relationship with Teach for America and her agreement with so-called grant from Wal-Mart to hire TFA’s..or is that Part II?
Wonderful article, Bob. Please don’t forget to include how Cami “fired” all of the district’s department chairs and then rehired them as vice principals of each department at a higher salary!
Explains here disdain for TeachNJ-she was expecting to fire them all without due process.
This all began when Anderson thought that seniority rights would be taken away with the tenure reform legislation. Anderson lied to State Senator Ruiz about who she placed in the EWPS pool. Anderson claimed that she found 80 teachers who were ineffective and needed to be fired but tenure protected them. If Senator Ruiz would eliminate seniority, she could begin to fix the Newark schools by removing them.Thankfully, Ms.Ruiz questioned this with the NTU and found that none of these teachers had any negative evaluations. In fact, all were rated satifactory or better.What they all had in common was that they all had 25 plus years of service. This was her way to fire more expensive teachers and replace them with her cheaper,Teach for America clones.Because of her deceitful tactics, seniority rights stayed in place and she was stuck with this pool of excessed teachers. To add insult to injury, Corey Booker also asked that these “ineffective” teachers be removed in a Star Ledger article.
IF you in any way think Teresa Ruiz is looking out for the best interests of hard working, effective, dedicated public servants in the NPS (or any other school district in the state), you are sadly mistaken, misinformed or perhaps too good natured to take the full measure of a NJ politician.
Never did I misinterpret the meaning of Rubber Room. The said it’s a room for educators without placement,and are being paid. However,speaking of Special Needs Students;my son is a special Need student-who status was changed to General Education. He was placed at Barringer S.T.E.A.M. School. He’s a freshman; he had six(6) schedule changes since the opening of school. His IEP suggest extra (Special Needs) help in various subjects; the school isn’t equipped with FACILITATING his needs;this is where it becomes so OBVIOUS as to what and why the STATE OF NJ elects to control the money,and throw our children under the bus-may they’re in need of Special Services or not. Watch those people who control the money;they’re the same ones who’ll call those who are undereducated,and the drop outs SAVAGES; AS THEY AND THEIR CONSTITUENTS walk away with BILLIONS of dollars.
It sounds like your son is supposed to have in-class support, meaning a special education teacher supporting the special needs students in a general education classroom. They still don’t have that? They didn’t have it last year. . What’s the excuse this year? C’ mon people, these special needs students come to the schools with extra funding. Give them their services. Where is the money???
Another Staffer– can you direct me to officials that are concerned about my son receiving his due Special Needs education?
I understand that Ms. Ruiz is only going to do what she is told to do. Especially after the situation that her husband found himself in. I think she didn’t like being deceived by the superintendent and reacted to it. The only interests she has are for herself.
@ Phillip Battle, I hope you see this because there is no ‘reply’ after your question/comment.
Firstly, your case manager should have given you a copy of your Parental Rights in Special Education (PRISE) at your son’s IEP meeting (and at every IEP meeting). In the back of that booklet there are forms you can use to register a complaint about concerns related to your child’s special education. Secondly, on the Procedural Safeguard’s page (at the end of the IEP which you should have been given a copy of) it lists contact information regarding parental concerns. Unfortunately, parents are not apprised as often as they should be about avenues to address valid concerns such as the one you brought up. If you contact SPAN (http://www.spanadvocacy.org/), they will help you. Also, since your issue is not just an individual one, but a systemic concern, you may want to register a complaint with the Education Law Center (http://www.edlawcenter.org/). Best of luck! I hope your son gets everything he needs, and is entitled to. Concerned parents, such as yourself, can make a big difference. Not just for your child, but for all the children who are not getting the services they are entitled to.
I apologies for the delayed response. However,I Thank You for your advice and ENCOURAGING WORDS. Your courage and concern is NEEDED in an environment that BREEDS greed,and disloyalty to the effort of educating those who are under represented by the CORRUPT BUREAUCRATIC GOVERNMENT.
No this all begin when Christie vowed to dismantle public education to support charter schools where the curriculum is dummied-down & administered by uncertified nonprofessional
First of all I am offended by the reference of “rubber rooms”. I’m sure you are referring to special needs children. I read the first paragraph & scanned the rest and that word has been used numerous times. Don’t you think a more appropriate word could gave been used. Shame shame. I guess whoever wrote the article knows nothing about special needs children. So to me I have no interest in the content of the article
Bob Braun: I am not referring to special education children at all. The non-duty placement of teachers and the use of the term “rubber room” dates back to the 1990s in New York City. See http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/08/31/the-rubber-room. The term also is used in Los Angeles–http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/02/21/10465939-where-do-problem-teachers-go-las-rubber-room?lite.
Please Google the term and you will see it is not used to describe special education children. Indeed, an online publication called the “Special Education News” refers to “rubber rooms” without any reference to special education children but rather to the placement of teachers.
It is now commonly used in Newark. I frankly have never heard of its reference to special education children.
@ Jackie –
That is what the Superintendent and her people call the rooms that the EWPS sit in. THis was not a term created by Bob or the teachers.
So what is implied here with the typical yellow journalism is that the school system was fine before Christie. Maybe someone should check the record. I don’t have time for this. This system has always been bad. Until their is a significant emotional change it will not change. This is like trying to catch a moving train. Too many people have an agenda that is not in the interest of the kids. If these teachers are not doing good why do they not move onto a system where they can do some good and resign. Lets be real. Is it ethically right to collect a check for work not done?
Bob Braun: No, that is not the implication at all. The explicit point of the piece is that a sitting governor is promoting policies that result in paying public employees not to work. They are doing that at the direction of the superiors they must obey or lose their positions. That makes the superiors responsible, not the employees–and that means, ultimately, Chris Christie. What are the ethics of that?
Don, if you would really look at the past record of Newark you would know that Newark had $63 million dollars before the state took over. Afterwards it went down to zero! The state has proven that it can not handle the education of individual cities. Jersey City, Camden, Patterson and Newark are proof enough that the state should leave education alone to the educators and not the politicians. If you and the rest are concerned about bad educators, then get rid of Cami and her rubber stamp administration. By the way, one of the Asst. Superintentend Roger Leon is a yes man that is on a short line to approve any of Cami garbage.
This is not only a waste of money but of talent. I worked for the Newark School district from 2002-2012 and after reviewing this list I recognized many names. All of the teachers and administrators who I recognized were and are excellent educators who did their job well. I am not surprised at how disrespectful Gov. Christie, Superintendent Anderson and her cronies are towards dedicated educators and tax payers. The Newark School system under Anderson and Christie is depriving its students of a good education by not having these dedicated, talented and experienced educators in the classroom. Libertarians like Senator Rand Paul will have a field day in 2016 by going after Gov. Christie for wasting tax payer money, limiting the local government of the people of Newark and hurting the children by depriving them of experienced and highly qualified educators. If they do not, they would be fools.
Excellent reporting, Bob. How does the Ledger not get one single scoop in their backyard?
Lastly, has anyone seen standardized test scores in Newark since they were released to Dr. Anderson in August? I wonder how they compare to 2011, the last year prior to her arrival?
Christie would do for America what he did for New Jersey.
not “for America” but “to America”. Chris Christie would do to America what he did to New Jersey.
This is sickening. These are good teachers that want to work with children and teach. We all got into to help the kids and with these clowns at the helm we are more occupied fighting for our jobs than ever before. When can we go back to just teaching and being satisfied with our jobs?
Once again Bob, you’ve highlighted the weaknesses of Cami’s One Newark Plan, along who fuels her dream: Christie! Nevertheless, the article does hurt some very, very good teachers – because it infers that all of the EWPS are either in a school – doing nothing or, sitting at 2 Cedar doing nothing. This is not, entirely true. There are many EWPS who are actively working at their assigned sites and contributing to the daily educational needs of the Newark students. Unfortunately, the EWPS list – which has been mysteriously “deleted” from the Web, does not show this and it’s distrurbing for those of “us” who have clumped together with the “others” who, in reality, should’ve been terminated, ions ago!
Bob keep up the good work you are doing by exposing Gov. Christie and Cami Anderson’s war against the people of Newark. There seems to be confusion about what passes for so called school reform in Newark, which is Christie and Anderson led on behalf of corporate and outside interests with an intent on diminishing the teaching profession and the power of the community. As opposed to what real reform should be, which is an effort from the community, educators, local businesses and local government. Reform directed from the Governor and the Superintendent without the community’s input is not reform, but more of a dictatorship, where the only voices heard are the voices of the powerful. Bob thank you for keeping us informed, because waiting for the mainstream media we would never know the real story.
Great reporting Bob, I want to see you on Bill Maher, discussing these issues. You and Bill have much to talk about.
That would be fantastic! Bob, you belong on TV, explaining all of this horror in Newark, NJ. Only you can do the job that needs to be done. You’re FANTASTIC!
Bob Braun: (blush) Thank you.
Thank you for opening our eyes! Amen
Another key point which is missing is that if a teacher refuses to work an extended day and year, they are placed in the EWPS pool. Principals are replaced in SIG, New, and Renew schools because the extended day violates CASA’s existing contract. Instead of negotiating a new contract with them, they replace them with new hires who agree to work the extended time for little or no pay. This trickles down to the teachers who are given the option of accepting a nonpensionable stipend of $3000.00 (which is well below the state’s hourly minimum wage) or become EWPS.
For this $3,000.00 stipend teachers are REQUIRED to work two (2) FULL weeks in August – full days, four (4) Saturday’s throughout the school year, PLUS one (1) hour extra each school day. That totals to a minimum of 293.90 extra hours. Broken down this comes to $10.2075 per hour. (This figure was calculated by the new school day of 7.35 hours times 10 days in August plus 4 Saturdays plus 1 extra hour for 191 days. Students attend 185 days, staff attends 191 days.)
Then to add insult to injury this $3,000.00 stipend isn’t given to the people that worked these hours until much later than they worked it. $1,500.00 is supposed to be given to them at the end of December and the balance ($1,500.00) at the end of June.
If someone worked these hours, but left before the stipend was distributed, this person is not paid for the time worked. How is this fair?
There will be people that will tell people that work at these schools that it was their choice to work at a renewed school for this $3,000.00 stipend. I will state that on one hand this is true, on the other hand many people felt that had no choice. People need to work and earn a living. People are and were afraid not accepting a position at a renewed school would put them out of a job, or in the EWP position that Bob is mentioning in his blog. Many people felt they had no choice.Newark Public Schools is taking advantage of its employees. They continue to disrespect the community, students and people that live and work in Newark. They continue to destroy public education and demoralize the people that are trying to make a difference in the lives of the students.
In addition to these required additional hours, this does not take into account the hours required for all teachers(regardless of what type school they work in) to attend the Open House, two Parent / Teacher conferences and a number of other hours that the school may have added to the day for parents to come to the school and see what is happening in the school, i.e. PTA/PTO events, meet the teachers nights, game nights, read to your children nights, etc. NOR does it take into account all the FREE hours staff freely give of themselves to grade papers, set up their classrooms, create lesson plans, report grades into the system because NPS no longer supports personal computers for teachers to input grades from home, and many more hours for various reasons staff stays at their school doing school work. Heck, it doesn’t even take into account all of the personal money teachers spend on supplies for their students and their classrooms.
I could go on and on, but until teachers and other employees stop being their own worst enemies and get verbally involved in what is happening we will continue to be used, abused, chewed up and spit out.
What is sad is that so many teachers and employees won’t speak out because the new TEACHNJ law and ACHIEVENJ evaluation system can now be used against those that do speak out without actually stating that is the real reason they are being poorly evaluated. Suddenly people that were effective teachers are becoming ineffective? How is this possible? Is it because they spoke out? Many of the people I speak with say this is what happened to them. Others are afraid it will happen to them. FEAR is a very powerful way to keep people in line.
That is one powerful way of keeping people in line. But that’s not how they’re doing it at NPS.
They are allowing the vagueness, the obfuscation, and the willful distribution of disinformation create a climate of hysterical anxiety among the teachers.
Plainly, they’ve divided and conquered. By propagating unclear messages, people don’t know what is true or not; and without knowledge of the truth, or intelligence of the reform movement’s true intent, people simply gather in forums like this, exchanging conspiracy theories, asking irrelevant rhetorical questions, or making honest demands of a corrupt system.
The truth is, the players of the ed reform movement are a small posse of cattle rustlers, and everyone else is just a cow being herded. So long as everyone is content to be grazing it will continue to be business as usual. When the teachers make up their minds to start using their minds, you know, the way they complain they wish their students would, then maybe things will change. Until then, don’t expect to see the running of the bulls. Just sit back and enjoy NPS’ production of “Blazing Saddles.”
First Hand I thank you for this information. It is very revealing of what is really going on in the Newark school system. I dealt with this type of persecution. For nine years I was a Proficient teacher held in good esteem by my students, peers and community, then all of the sudden I was an unsatisfactory teacher. That school year the school I worked at was run by new inexperienced administrators, some who had been in the classroom no more than a few years and all of the sudden were administrators. One of the new administrators was a former Teach for America teacher and an ideologue. When I began to question their poor judgement, I became “persona non-grata”. I eventually left the system and moved on. Last I heard two of those administrators went to the Paterson School District and were fired for fighting in front of people from the state. They revealed their true “scum nature” in front of people from the state department of education. The Teach for America ideologue is still there. Cami needs her people after all. By the way the school is still a mess. Unfortunately students are the biggest losers under Cami and her cronies.
On your federal Income Tax use Form 2106 to report unreimbursed business expenses. Especially if you coach a sport, do lunch duty or any of the after school activities
How on earth can this be allowed to go on, and be legal? How can Anderson bring in TFA scabs while having qualified, certified, veteran teacher on payroll, and making them do nothing? This should be illegal. Lawsuits should be filed. WHERE IS THE UNION in this? Why is this not going to the courts? Where is the NAACP protesting the rubber rooming of minority teachers in favor of the younger, whiter TFAs? Where is the outrage? Where is Al Sharpton? Where is Rev. Jesse? Why are not the rubber roomed teachers outside headquarters picketing or peacefully protesting?
You have to vote when Christie term is up. No court intimidation all the NPS suits will begin being processed and the handcuffs will come out for the ex-Governor and the ex-Superintendent of The Newark Public Schools. Do not vote for Booker. Try writing in The Newark Mayor instead,
I agree that Bob needs an Instragram or Vine Video blog! He is the only journalist with true writer ETHICS! He checks his facts and just provides the truth on what is occuring in Newark Public Schools.
On another note Bob; what has happened to Senator Rice investigation and the lawsuits against the One Newark plan?
As a parent we need unification and to take this to a legal system because at this point this is plain abuse and baised approach; in addition to how can we sit back and watch Cami Anderson and the crew to hurt our children.
Preface: I DO NOT support Cami Anderson but I think this article is a bit misleading. All EWPs are not sitting downtown. Many are in schools, doing something – maybe not something they like to be doing but they are doing something. Perhaps, they are in disciplinary positions. They cannot be long-term substitutes in positions for which they are not qualified/certified, according to the union. They may only sub for a couple days in a specific placement.
Also, Horton and Belmont-Runyon, as examples, became Renew Schools at the end of last year. ALL staff becomes EWP and can apply for their jobs back. If they aren’t hired back, they can apply to other schools where their were vacancies. By the end of July, mid-August, many of those people found new positions.
As for the tech coordinators: They were all dumped, the name of their position was changed, and were hired back doing the same thing they did before.
I’m not saying that anything this administration is doing is positively moving this district forward. There is a witch-hunt for educators they can ax and the tactics are pretty shady. No one feels safe; morale is at an all time low. There are subs in many classes and TFAs all over the place; new principals from far away lands that didn’t know what they were getting themselves into… and a decreased special ed department. The whole mess is a mess of huge proportions.
All that said, there are not hundreds of people sitting downtown on a daily basis. Some are because they couldn’t be placed but many others are on school sites, like I said, “doing something.” Part of the problem is the elimination of programs, like shop – if you’re the tenured shop teacher and it doesn’t exist anymore – you are EWP and you might be placed in a school in a non-teaching position.
Disclaimer: I am a teacher. I don’t work downtown; I have no allegiance to Anderson nor her buddies. I have been an EWP and got through that humiliation to continue to teach.
I have been “there .. did that” … What is the plan(s) to correct this wasteful situation?????
[…] Bob Braun asks The Big Question in his Oct 23 2014 article Bigger than Bridgegate? Christie’s $25 million in no-show Newark school jobs. Newark educators benched by Christie’s people are costing New Jersey taxpayers $25 MILLION […]
These comments are but a fraction of Governor Christie and his administration’s management style. Examples of poor budgeting and management is a constant within the administration licensed by the lack detailed understanding of State Departments and Divisions and the overall impact on systems which meaningfully service poor and needy. Shared sacrifice is not and has not been a value of this administration. Additionally, the budget committee has repeatedly discussed the revenue side of Governor’s fiscal budgets finding, over projections and overall deficits at years end.
Example: the Center for Hispanic Policy Research and Development had a budget of 3.2 million dollars, which provided case management services assisting the delivery of Human Services across the State. The funds supported 30 Hispanic Social Service agencies providing employment to more than 300 bilingual/bicultural residents. The administration redirected the application of the funding to economic development causing lay-offs. Those layoff’s cost the state more than 5 million dollars in unemployment benefits.
Governor Christies latest poling is recognizing that his motives are self serving and not to the best interest of the needy in the state.
Example: His trip to England was permissible through an Executive Order which he signed and allowing private donations to Public Officials. He, Governor Christie turns out to be the very first to benefit from his own Executive Order. A Bull in a China Shop, self-Interest anybody?
If the website has obtained the documents, how come that are not being shown? Also how come there is not one quote from anyone either pro/con this topic to help make it credible?
Bob Braun: I did post the documents but took them down because they contained the home addresses, telephone numbers and SSNs of the teachers assigned to rubber rooms. If you don’t trust me, I suggest you contact either members of the school board who discussed the rubber room problem at some length or OPRA the school district.