Sunday, September 30, 2007

Who Really Belongs In The Rubber Room?

Leonard Brown, a veteran physics teacher at Cardozo High School, languishes in the New York City Department of Education Rubber Room these days after he was charged with "having made physical contact with a student" during a science demonstration when he asked her to push her hands up against him with all her weight.

Brown writes that he has been using this lesson for the past 18 years to demonstrate one of the axioms of Newton’s Third Law of Motion, which states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Brown says never in all that time has there been a complaint about impropriety during the lesson but nonetheless he now faces charges against him pursuant to the 3020a State Education Law.

This means the city is trying to have him permanently removed from the classroom and strip him of his teaching license.

While Leonard Brown sits in the Rubber Room awaiting his fate, another city employee continues to work unhindered despite some pretty serious discrimination and harassment charges made against him.

This city employee has been accused of the following:

* asking a female employee if she was giving her boyfriend "good" oral sex.

* saying "I'd like to do that" and "That's a great piece of a--" to describe women in the office.

* pointing out a young female employee and telling another female employee, "If you looked like that, I would do you in a second."

* telling a pregnant employee to "Kill it!" in reference to her baby and saying "Great! Number 16!" -- an apparent reference to the number of women in the company who were pregnant or had maternity-related status.

These are just some of the specific allegations made against this city employee.

There are others but they all add up to one thing - this city employee with immense power who supervises hundreds of thousands of other city employees has been accused of creating a work atmosphere where he and "other male managers at the company made 'repeated and unwelcome' sexual comments, overtures and gestures," and contributed "to an offensive, locker-room culture."

This city employee is of course Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg, as I posted here on Friday, has been hit with at least three sexual harassment law suits in the past. He settled one out of court, paying the accuser off quietly and insisting upon a confidentiality agreement in the case. Another suit was quietly withdrawn by the accuser after her lawyer and Bloomberg's lawyers met for some "discussions." His company, Bloomberg LP, is currently being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for gender discrimination after at least four female employees accused Bloomberg LP of discriminating against them either during pregnancy or upon their return from maternity leave.

Now it is true that the current discrimination allegations made against Bloomberg LP all allegedly took place after Bloomberg stepped down from day-to-day operations running the company, but the previous sexual harassment allegations were all made against Bloomberg himself and an argument can be made that the alleged gender discrimination practices currently pursued by the management of Bloomberg LP started when Mayor Mike himself was running the company (since all of the sexual harassment charges I detailed above stem from his time as CEO.)

I cannot fathom why it is that Leonard Brown, an 18 year teaching veteran who was simply trying to teach Newton's Law to students, sits in the DOE Rubber Room for months on end as the city cooks up reasons to fire him while Mayor Michael Bloomberg, accused of saying things like "That's a great piece of a--" and "If you looked like that, I would do you in a second" gets to run around Europe drumming up support and media buzz for his independent presidential bid.

I also cannot understand why there is not more outrage over these allegations from both the news media and the public.

Let's be honest here - wouldn't we hear a lot more outrage about these sexual harassment and gender discrimination charges if they were made against a teacher?

I know we would.

The teacher would be tried and convicted in the court of public opinion (otherwise known as the front covers of the NY Daily News and NY Post) while the UFT threw up their collective hands and said "Sorry, we've done all we can do."

And yet somehow Michael Bloomberg has managed to avoid serious scrutiny over some truly disturbing allegations that may or may not be true but certainly are much more troubling than what Leonard Brown is accused of doing in physics class and certainly shouldn't be glossed over the way they currently have been.
blog comments powered by Disqus