How the Teachers Union Was Tougher than Microsoft

Joel Klein was able to impose his will on the Microsoft Corporation, much to consumers’ detriment, but he made less headway against the Education Blob. Perhaps ironically for someone who had served as an antitrust enforcer, his first great accomplishment as chancellor of the New York City schools was to centralize control in his own office. Calculating test scores accurately revealed that they barely budged during his eight-year tenure. As for the “rubber rooms,” where teachers accused of gross misconduct sit around for months or years, drawing full pay – made famous in the documentaries “The Rubber Room” and “Waiting for ‘Superman’” – Klein got them formally eliminated. But teachers who can’t be fired are now making six figures for doing clerical work. Maybe, in the words of “Waiting for Superman,” Klein changed the system from “rubber rooms” to “dance of the lemons.”