It's an obsession with him, perhaps stemming from a message he gets from his superiors at Team Zuckerman that this is a story they want covered every few weeks, perhaps originating from something darker and more Freudian.
In any case, it's a subject he comes back to over and over and over.
Today, he and Rachel Monahan have a rubber room piece in the Daily News that reports the city spends $29 million a year on salaries for 326 teachers and administrators who have been "accused of abusing kids, breaking rules or just being lousy educators."
The gist of the article is, why can't the city fire these "expensive educational pariahs?" What changes need to be made to the process that will give the city the ability to fire these criminals?
The underlying assumption is, these people are guilty and the process needs to be changed as soon as possible so that the city can fire them.
Chapman and Monahan get quotes from both a DOE spokesman and a union official to press their respective sides of the issue, but the language in the article leaves little doubt that these 326 teachers languishing in the 2013 version of the rubber room are pervs, incompetents, malcontents and freaks and they should be fired.
But this article, like so many of the other DN articles on the rubber room, perv teachers and other misconduct cases, is misleading to say the least.
A commenter on the article leaves the following:
The tone of this article is so misplaced. Of course nobody wants a person who abuses children or sex fiend in the classroom. But the article makes it seems that the majority of teachers who have been re-assigned are people like that. Nothing could be further from the truth. Bloomberg and his cronies want the ability to have an incompetent Principal (and so many of the new Principals are not educators or not capable of truly determining whether a teacher is incompetent but that's for another day). I know a case where a politically powerful parent's kid did no work, failed every exam and the teacher refused to pass the student. The parent went to the Principal and suddenly the teacher was up on charges of incompetence and other unspeakable things which were simply not true. As soon as the special investigator looked into it, it became clear the teacher was being framed but the DOE would not put the teacher back in the classroom. Cases like that are much more common than the other way around. Before you take a person's livelihood around, that person is entitled to a fair impartial hearing. Not according to Bloomberg who says if the Principal says you are incompetent than you are incompetent.
Another commenter writes:
The vast majority of those sent to the rubber rooms are returned to duty with the finding that they did no wrong. The others sit because the DOE is incompetent in pursuing charges against those who should be fired. A large number are also sent to the rubber rooms for asking the wrong questions or not drinking the Bloomberg Kool-Aid. One teacher was just re-asigned for complaining that materials for the new curriculum have not arrived. That is absolutely true in hundreds of schools, but the Daily News is recycling these old rubber room stories instead of reporting on the real news. The real news is that it is October and Bloomberg and Walcott have failed again, hurt students and schools by failing to deliver materials for the new curriculum.
Indeed, the DN is recycling the old rubber room stories and continues to do so over and over, trying to sell readers again and again that any teacher accused of misconduct, abuse, or incompetence must be guilty, does not deserve a fair, impartial hearing and should be fired immediately.
And of course some readers believe the lies told in the DN - readers like Dell:
Why are they not in jail? Forget about getting paid. They should be locked up.
To which another commenter replies:
Dell, the reason they are not in jail is most likely because they committed no crimes. Though the Daily News uses only the vague example of "abusing" kids (telling a kid his presentation was boring is considered abuse), there are people in rubber rooms for a variety of reasons. The one thing all of these teachers have in common is that they are being ACCUSED of something. None of them have been found guilty of anything, however. The Daily News wants readers (like you) to misunderstand and think that pedophiles have immunity from the law if they pay dues to the UFT. Obviously, that idea is ridiculous. Again, the Daily News and its resident d-bag Ben Chapman constantly rehash old stories to make teachers look bad. The agenda couldn't be more obvious.
Indeed, there is an agenda behind the rehash of these smear stories.
And I dunno about you, but when I see the same name on the by-line of these stories, I start to think the reporter has a jones for this kind of thing.
I start to wonder, what's this dude's problem that he keeps going back to the same well time and time again to write the same old untrue accusations and insinuations?
It would be one thing if he were doing an honest job of reporting and giving readers the real story - that while a handful of teachers are truly guilty of the charges they are accused of, many of these teachers are guilty of nothing, that many have simply been accused of misdeeds but once these accusations are looked into by a fair and impartial hearing officer, these people are exonerated and yet still they languish outside the classroom because the city won't put them back to do the jobs they're being paid to do.
But that's not how Ben Chapman works the perv teacher or rubber room beat.
Ben and whomever he co-writes these stories with always frame the articles with "accusation = guilt," always sell the message that "powerful teachers union" protects the "pervs, freaks and pedophiles" from justifiably being fired.
It's a smear job, plain and simple.
It's growing old and stale because it's the same story time and time again and in the end, it's not true.
But the DN never lets a little old problem like facts or truth get in the way of telling a story they want to tell - and neither does Ben Chapman.