Ripped From Which Headline? "Rubber Room"

Slate's Culture Blog
May 25 2010 11:09 AM

Ripped From Which Headline? "Rubber Room"

We all know that

Law & Order
June Thomas June Thomas

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

Advertisement

rips its stories from the headlines

but which headlines? Now the series has come to an end, and for the last time ever, Brow Beat has matched

L&O'

s plot points to the events that inspired them.

May 24, 2010, "Rubber Room"

These Are Their Stories
An online video leads the police to a Web site where "Moot" is counting down the days until he attacks a New York City school. The detectives treat the threat seriously and assume it is coming from a student. They try to find Moot by tracking down teachers he has complained about on his site, but they find themselves stonewalled by the teachers union and the board of education. They eventually discover that Moot is Rick Benson, a teacher who was the subject of a malicious student complaint. While his case was under investigated, he was sent to a temporary reassignment center or "rubber room." His girlfriend abandoned him, and Benson became psychologically unhinged. The cops track Benson to a school in Queens at the very moment when he's started a shooting spree. Detectives Lupo and Bernard accost Benson before he kills anyone, though three students were injured. (This makes the final Law & Order a rare episode without a murder.)

This Is the Real Story

As Steven Brill chronicled in an August 2009 New Yorker story , hundreds of New York City schoolteachers who have been accused of misconduct or incompetence are sent to "rubber rooms" while their cases are considered:

Watched over by two private security guards and two city Department of Education supervisors, they punch a time clock for the same hours that they would have kept at school typically, eight-fifteen to three-fifteen. Like all teachers, they have the summer off. The city's contract with their union, the United Federation of Teachers, requires that charges against them be heard by an arbitrator, and until the charges are resolved the process is often endless they will continue to draw their salaries and accrue pensions and other benefits.

On April 15, 2010, the New York Times reported that the mayor and the teachers unions had agreed to bounce the rubber rooms. Instead, "teachers will be assigned to administrative work or nonclassroom duties in their schools while their cases are pending."

TODAY IN SLATE

War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The NFL Has No Business Punishing Players for Off-Field Conduct. Leave That to the Teams.

Meet the Allies the U.S. Won’t Admit It Needs in Its Fight Against ISIS

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.

Medical Examiner

How to Stop Ebola

Survivors might be immune. Let’s recruit them to care for the infected.

History

America in Africa

The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.

New GOP Claim: Hillary Clinton’s Wealth and Celebrity Are Tricks to Disguise Her Socialism

Why the Byzantine Hiring Process at Universities Drives Academics Batty

Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 3:29 PM The Fascinating Origins of Savannah, Georgia’s Distinctive Typeface
  News & Politics
History
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM America in Africa The tragic, misunderstood history of Liberia—and why the United States has a special obligation to help it fight the Ebola epidemic.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
  Life
Education
Sept. 23 2014 11:45 PM Why Your Cousin With a Ph.D. Is a Basket Case  Understanding the Byzantine hiring process that drives academics up the wall.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 8:38 PM “No One in This World” Is One of Kutiman’s Best, Most Impressive Songs
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 23 2014 11:37 PM How to Stop Ebola Could survivors safely care for the infected?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?