SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Red Sector Rubber Room

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Red Sector Rubber Room

In 1984, Canadian power trio Rush released Grace Under Pressure. On tis album was a song, Red Sector A. Many thought that it was about the Holocaust, the camps in particular, though neither singer extraordinaire Geddy Lee nor drummer and lyricist Neil Peart claimed it so.

Geddy Lee's (real name Gary Weinrib) parents were both in the camps and met in a relocation center. According to an interview in 2004 in, Geddy told his mother's story to Neil Peart. "Neil took that sentiment and wrote [the lyrics to] 'Red Sector A," said Geddy. In fact according to Geddy, the album Grace Under Pressure, "is about being on the brink and having the courage and strength to survive." See the tie in to the teachers in the Rubber Rooms?

Now in now why can we ever compare teachers in the Rubber Room to the brutality of the Holocaust. But the same mindset is apparent in the leaders of the Third Reich and the Bloomberg administration. Let's take a look at the lyrics to Red Sector A.

All that we can do is just survive All that we can do to help ourselves is stay alive

Exactly what teachers in the RR are going through. Just survive. Not stay alive psychologically for another day.

Ragged lines of ragged grey Skeletons, they shuffle away Shouting guards and smoking guns Will cut down the unlucky ones

Teachers have just become some line of non-entities while awaiting some unknown reason or fate for being where they are. Guards at every RR monitor and report back to superiors regarding the teachers. They won't be cut down with guns, but cut down with reprimands, psychological guns.

I clutch the wire fence until my fingers bleed A wound that will not heal A heart that cannot feel Hoping that the horror will recede Hoping that tomorrow we'll all be freed
Some RR's have that proverbial wire fence, some like the one at Geirge Washington High School have a real wire fence. Teachers psyches are wounded, perhaps permanently, they turn feral, and unfeeling. They hope, pray and dream of tomorrow will be better, that this hell on earth will cease.

Sickness to insanity Prayer to profanity Days and weeks and months go by Don't feel the hunger Too weak to cry

Does this really need to be expanded on? Self explanatory.
I hear the sound of gunfire at the prison gate Are the liberators here? Do I hope or do I fear?

The gunfire is OSI, and SCI investigators coming to talk teachers. Intimidating teachers into talking without union representation. If they do, they might go free. If they don't they could stay. Forever.
For my father and my brother, it's too late But I must help my mother stand up straight

Teachers see their fellow teachers one day, and the next day, poof! They're gone. Where did they go? Were the cleared, were they terminated? Last year a teacher in the Manhattan/Bronx RR died. Not in the RR, but at home. He was diabetic. Want to bet the stress didn't help him? At the Bronx RR a teacher had a stroke. Stress again.
Are we the last ones left alive? Are we the only human beings to survive?

Are they? What is going on outside in the real world. A world with no windows, or in a basement, or cut off from their colleagues?



"There but for the Grace of God go I"

SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL has often been harshly criticized for comparing the realities of being trapped in the Kafkaesque world of the so called NYC Dept of Education Rubber Rooms, to the life experiences of Nazi concentration camp victims.

Those who hurl these undeserved criticisms simply fail to understand that SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL does not intend the reader to take his comparisons of Rubber Rooms and concentration camps literally, but in a symbolic sense.

I just participated in being interviewed for an upcoming TV News Special on the NYC DOE's infamous Rubber Rooms.

Interestingly, many of those interviewed spoke of the fact that a major goal of the Rubber Rooms as envisioned by the DOE is to intentionally break down one's spirit and the "will to go on" among those incarcerated in these 21 rst Century abominations.

I have personally witnessed with horror how once strong and proud Educators, once confined to the Rubber Rooms for extended periods of time, one, two and three years or more, begin to undergo rather dramatic personality changes.

Some become quiet and turn noticeably inside themselves. The topics of conversation change markedly compared to their pre Rubber Room years and life's priorities evolve and change until many of these dedicated Teachers begin to wither away- both mentally and even physically.

A very dear former Teacher colleague of mine, a prime example of this concept, literally wasted away before my eyes and died shortly after his eventual "liberation" from our particular RR gulag, after more than two years.

I still see him sometimes, with vivid clarity, pass before my eyes. A talented and inspiring teacher, he was removed on some petty excuse because he once spoke out at a Faculty Meeting when one of Joel Klein's high ranking stooge/lackeys was present in the school Auditorium.

At that moment, I vividly recall thinking to myself as though it were yesterday- "this teacher has just effectively signed his Death Warrant".

And as Fate and subsequent events were to prove, - he indeed literally had.



"There but for the Grace of God go I"


People often ask me, as I remain in my fifth Rubber Room gulag, (this one a small windowless room with no readily available fresh drinking water or fresh air, and continue to undergo my Second NYS 3020-a Teacher Hearings, why I do not simply retire and leave the schools system.

In fact, for quite some time, after a very long teaching career, my Retirement benefits far outstrip my salary. I am virtually losing money by not leaving the system.

Only those who were in the concentration camps or know individuals who were, can understand what the Rubber Rooms can do to the human mind.

For many victims of the NYC DOE Rubber Room gulags, there is the acute and perpetual awareness that "giving up" is precisely what the DOE hopes will be the final result of one's being condemned to the Rubber Rooms.

That is why so many falsely accused, innocent educators hold on as long as they are mentally and physically able to do so.

Just as for the countless victims in Hitler's concentration camps, over half a century ago, sometimes "holding on" becomes their only means of expressing one's simple human dignity, self respect and psychological self worth.

Every person, in this instance, every teacher, who has ever been falsely and unjustly accused of something by the New York City Dept of Education can understand and identify with these words.

In a strangely hard to understand way, perhaps difficult to comprehend fashion, sometimes in Life the best one can hope for and the only Justice, (for some, an almost bizarre form of revenge), is the act of refusing to "give up and give in" to a monstrously corrupt system that has taken away from them everything they ever valued and held dear in Life.

And so one reaches that point where one must decide if he or she will allow themselves to be crushed or, alternatively, even if "running on empty", remain standing. And thus "survive".

For the latter group of dedicated NYC Teachers, as they continue to battle those sorry excuses for human beings, the countless Pigs at the Educational Trough, the Babarians in Suits, at the Schoolhouse Gates, who have temporarily hijacked our beloved Public Schools system, there remains that conviction, so forcefully articulated by Nietzche:
"That which does not succeed in destroying me, makes me stronger".

It is that type of inner strength which made such individuals such truly great and inspiring Teachers in the first place.