Did anyone hear the Human Resources episode of This American Life? If not here are a couple of curious items from this recent episode.
The rubber room in NYC public school district is where they send teachers who get in trouble, but not enough to fire them. Some teachers spend *years* showing up to a room where they sit all day and collect their full pay while waiting a hearing. There are actually several rooms where teachers can go; it seems each room has its own unofficial territory and leadership. And, amazingly, fights often break out concerning the only things—lights, where you sit, level of sound—they have control over. Listening to the absolutely ludicrous nature of this situation had me laughing uncontrollably; at the same time I felt a stinging sense of absolute futility.
The trailer of an upcoming (still seeking distribution) documentary on the rubber room:
See the NY times story about this http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/10/education/10education.html
Almost Human Resources
A retirement home for chimps which have been used in experiments and as actors. Most include forested lands but some also include human-like environments with televisions and rooms. Many of the chimps have become accustomed to doing human things so they do not want to cut them off from these activities. Charles Siebert, who is writing a book called Humanzee, discusses these strange yet amazing places.
Link to the TAL episode with both of these stories: http://www.thislife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?episode=350