A Peek Into Future America - Don't Look If You Scare Easily

Discussion in 'Economics' started by ByLoSellHi, May 7, 2009.

  1. http://www.latimes.com/news/la-me-t...story?track=rss


    L.A. Unified pays teachers not to teach

    About 160 instructors and others get salaries for doing nothing while their job fitness is reviewed. They collect roughly $10 million a year, even as layoffs are considered because of a budget gap.

    By Jason Song

    May 6, 2009

    For seven years, the Los Angeles Unified School District has paid Matthew Kim a teaching salary of up to $68,000 per year, plus benefits.

    His job is to do nothing.

    Every school day, Kim's shift begins at 7:50 a.m., with 30 minutes for lunch, and ends when the bell at his old campus rings at 3:20 p.m. He is to take off all breaks, school vacations and holidays, per a district agreement with the teacher's union. At no time is he to be given any work by the district or show up at school.

    He has never missed a paycheck.

    In the jargon of the school district, Kim is being "housed" while his fitness to teach is under review. A special education teacher, he was removed from Grant High School in Van Nuys and assigned to a district office in 2002 after the school board voted to fire him for allegedly harassing teenage students and colleagues. In the meantime, the district has spent more than $2 million on him in salary and legal costs.

    Last week, Kim was ordered to continue this daily routine at home. District officials said the offices for "housed" employees were becoming too crowded.

    About 160 teachers and other staff sit idly in buildings scattered around the sprawling district, waiting for allegations of misconduct to be resolved.

    The housed are accused, among other things, of sexual contact with students, harassment, theft or drug possession. Nearly all are being paid. All told, they collect about $10 million in salaries per year -- even as the district is contemplating widespread layoffs of teachers because of a financial shortfall.

    Most cases take months to adjudicate, but some take years.

    Kim, 41, has persisted the longest.

    He argued unsuccessfully in a lawsuit that he was the victim of disability discrimination. Born with severe cerebral palsy, he has limited use of his limbs, must use a wheelchair and requires a full-time personal aide (who is paid about $14 an hour by the district). He declined repeatedly to be interviewed, as did his attorney, Lawrence Trygstad.

    Kim's long-term stay in paid professional limbo highlights how long it can take to move through the thicket of legal protections afforded educators in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second-largest.

    "It's a glaring example of how hard it is to remove someone from the classroom and how the process is tilted toward teachers," said school board member Marlene Canter, who recently proposed -- unsuccessfully -- to revamp the disciplinary process.

    National issue

    The problem of what to do with teachers in trouble extends well beyond Los Angeles Unified. But not every district in California, or the country, handles it the same way.

    In New York City public schools, which make up the country's largest district, teachers are confined to "rubber rooms." About 550 of the district's 80,000 teachers spend school hours "literally just doing crossword puzzles, waiting for the end of the day" until their cases are resolved, spokeswoman Ann Forte said. Some have been there for years.

    In Chicago, the dismissal process moves faster and the 30 teachers waiting for their cases to be resolved are assigned clerical tasks. "They've got to be doing something," senior assistant general counsel James Ciesil said.

    San Francisco Unified employees are either sent home or assigned to tasks such as working in warehouses, doing inventory or answering phones, said Jolie Wineroth, the district's senior executive director for human resources.

    "I don't want to give anyone a free vacation," she said.

    Former union leaders say teachers in the Los Angeles district used to be assigned non-teaching jobs when they were housed. "They should not just sit there like zombies," said Hank Springer, United Teachers Los Angeles president from 1975 to 1980.

    cont'd: http://www.latimes.com/news/la-me-teachers6-2009may06,0,6604006.story?track=rss
  2. This is location specific. Look for it to become nationwide soon.

    Four years of rent-free living, kept well fed and warm...

    I actually feel sorry for these people.

    They are being anesthitized by their government.

    Government does nothing but kill aspirations, motivation and incentives.


    Cheryl Gerber / For The Times
    Behind Belinda Jenkins’ FEMA trailer is the gutted home where she lived before Katrina. She says applications for rebuilding money were held up by questions about the house’s title

    Post-Katrina trailer residents fearful as eviction day looms

    FEMA, having pushed back its deadline several times, says the last 4,600 dwellings must be cleared by May 30. But many occupants are poor, ill or elderly, with no place to go, housing advocates say.

    By Richard Fausset

    May 6, 2009

    Reporting from New Orleans -- Belinda Jenkins was picking up her diabetes medication Tuesday afternoon, and worrying about being away from the trailer she has lived in since Hurricane Katrina trashed her house.

    Jenkins, a disabled 53-year-old, is afraid the Federal Emergency Management Agency is scheming to take the flimsy box away. So she keeps a handwritten note taped to the door, asking officials to at least call her cellphone so she can come back and get her stuff.

    Belinda Jenkins, 53, says her family can’t afford the rents that have soared in New Orleans since the storm. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has threatened legal action against trailer residents who don’t leave by May 30.
    (Cheryl Gerber / For The Times)
    May 5, 2009

    "Thank you," the note reads. "Have a bless day."

    FEMA may not be so sneaky about it, but it definitely has designs on the trailer. About 44 months after the storm, the agency is now ready to shut down the most expensive -- and flawed -- emergency housing program in its history.

    Federal officials, who have postponed the trailer deadline numerous times, say they have finally arrived at May 30 as the firm date for emptying the 4,600 remaining FEMA trailers in Louisiana and Mississippi.

    Jenkins and others recently received a letter from the agency stating that the trailer program technically ended May 1. The letter threatened legal action against residents if they are not out by the end of the month.

    Even now, however, the program is proving difficult to end. Housing advocates say that many of those who remain in the trailers are among the Gulf Coast's most vulnerable residents -- the poor, the ill and the elderly. And they are worried the residents have few other options on a crippled post-storm landscape.

    Last week, the co-chairs of the Louisiana Advocacy Coalition for the Homeless wrote to acting FEMA Administrator Nancy Ward, imploring her to extend the deadline to keep the residents from being thrown out on the streets.

    Jenkins said she and her longtime boyfriend, a construction worker, can't afford the rents that have soared in New Orleans since the storm. Inside the stripped and gutted house behind her FEMA trailer, she pointed out a bed frame that her boyfriend recently brought in. She said he's been talking about sleeping there.

    "I don't have no plan right now," she said, sobbing. "I don't know where I'm going to go."

    The fate of these remaining trailer-dwellers has raised, perhaps for the last time, some fundamental questions about FEMA's response to this unprecedented disaster.

    FEMA was initially criticized for its sluggish rollout of the trailers, and again when many of them were found to have dangerous levels of formaldehyde. But the sheer scope of the response remains staggering: The agency provided more than 143,000 households with temporary housing units in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

    Though federal law prohibited FEMA from providing emergency housing for longer than 18 months, officials repeatedly extended the deadline in acknowledgment of the scope of the destruction. At the same time, some local governments -- worried about blight and eager to move on -- used zoning and permitting rules to pressure trailer residents to get out of the units and into more permanent housing.

    Clark Stevens, a FEMA spokesman, noted that the solution was always meant to be temporary. And in interviews Tuesday, a number of Louisianans agreed with FEMA's decision to end the program. Contractor Billy Griffin, 47, suspected that some people had grown comfortable in their free digs.

    "Somehow they've got to be forced out of there," he said.

    But housing advocates say a significant number of remaining residents are the victims of bureaucratic bungling and a housing market that still poses problems for the poor.

    In Mississippi, 53% of those still living in trailers make less than $20,000 per year, according to data compiled in March by Gov. Haley Barbour's office.

    Barbour, a Republican, has asked the federal government for 5,000 additional subsidized housing vouchers.

    In Louisiana, housing advocates point to state programs that have done little to help. A much-touted plan to build tiny, permanent "Katrina cottages" -- funded with millions in federal money -- has not produced a single unit.

    A $869-million state program, also federally funded, targeted more than 18,000 damaged rental units, but had resulted in fewer than 1,200 repairs by late March, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper.

    "With all the resources that have come down at our disposal, if we can't think of a way for these people to get into something better, then shame on us," said Laura Tuggle, an attorney with Southeast Louisiana Legal Services.

    Louisiana has doled out federal rebuilding money to more than 90% of the remaining trailer residents. But that hasn't always solved their problems: Last summer, the nonprofit advocacy group PolicyLink found that two out of three Louisianans who received rebuilding money did not receive enough to cover needed repairs.

    That is one of the dilemmas facing Nancy Hirschfeld, whose tiny house in Slidell was blown down in the hurricane. The disabled 67-year-old said the state gave her $28,000, which wasn't enough to rebuild.

    Hirschfeld owns the land where her trailer stands, and she has numerous pets, including chickens and geese. These days, she is shopping for used trailers and preparing to move into a tent.

    "What else am I going to do?" she said.

    Belinda Jenkins said her household's application for rebuilding money was held up because it was unclear who held the title to her boyfriend's house.

    A few minutes after returning with her prescription, Jenkins was met by a FEMA subcontractor's employee, holding a clipboard.

    "I've just come to check on the trailer -- is it already vacant?" asked the worker, Joann Barrett.

    "No," Jenkins responded. "And I'm so scared. . . . Please don't let them take it."
  3. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?sched=1286

    Teachers In New York Paid Full Salaries For Months or Years to Do Nothing


    350: Human Resources

    The true story of little-known rooms in the New York City Board of Education building. Teachers are told to report there instead of their classrooms. No reason is usually given. When they arrive, they find they've been put on some kind of probationary status, and they must report every day until the matter is cleared up. They call it the Rubber Room. Average length of stay? Months, sometimes years. Plus other stories of the uneasy interaction between humans and their institutions.

    The Rubber Room story was produced by Joe Richman and the good people at Radio Diaries.

    Note: we're doing the Rubber Room story with some filmmakers who are making a feature-length documentary about the Rubber Room. Learn more here.


    Host Ira Glass talks with a veteran Human Resources administrator about what it's like to fire people, and why it helps if you don't actually use the word "fire." (7 minutes)

    Act One. Rubber Room.

    We hear from New York City school teachers about a secret room in the New York City Board of Education building. Teachers are told to report there, and when they arrive, they find out they're under investigation for something. They have to wait in this room all day, every day, until the matter is cleared up. They call this bureaucratic purgatory "the rubber room." Some teachers have been stuck in it for years.

    This story was produced by Joe Richman, Samara Freemark, and Anayansi Diaz Cortes of Radio Diaries.

    We first heard about the rubber room from a documentary by Jeremy Garrett. There's a trailer at rubberroommovie.com. Jeremy's looking for funding to finish the film, and a distributor. (23 minutes)

    Song: "Waiting Room," Fugazi
  4. I didn't read the whole story yet, and let me start by saying I feel very bad for this lady. That being said,

    How the hell can she afford a cell phone and not be able to pay rent?

    Was this addressed in the article?
  5. Never mind the fact that her boyfriend, who is moving in with her in the trailer, IS A LAID OFF CONSTRUCTION WORKER, who can't seem the time to fix up the house that sits, decaying more with each passing month, behind the free for four years so far FEMA trailer that she is desperately clinging to.
  6. I will maintain this one as my most cherished conspiracy theory.

    The oligarchies and plutocracies that run the western world are multigenerational in nature. They made critical errors in the French Revolution and the Civil Rights Movement. They had an overabundance of literate but underutilized citizens. This group of thinking people with too much time on their hands started difficulties with their respective governments.

    After making concessions, these governments instituted methods to keep the citizenry in check.

    1. Keep them at war. War with a foreign power, terrorists, the corporations, each other, anything but the government.

    2. Keep them distracted. Keep them supplied with opiates directly, or encourage endorphin producing activities such as food and games. Sexualize the females early, so that men will covet them and they will submit.

    3. Keep them in debt. Early sexualization of the youth leads to unplanned breeding, which leads to all kinds of debt producing mechanisms.

    4. Keep them slothful. See number 2.

    5. Keep them dumb. Encourage anti-intellectualism in the youth. Social promote the youth. Blame any systemic failures on the frontline classroom teachers to crush their morale. They will stop teaching and start giving A's.

    These methods consistently applied will keep the masses in such disarray that they will seek, " a little sumthin against the wind".

    And government will b there.