I've written about this before, but since it's that time of year again, I get to do an updated post on the subject.
My district and local union have agreed on a stupid policy regarding substitute teachers. Because we had to lay off many teachers, those teachers get first dibs on any substitute assignment that occurs. At first thought this sounds like a good idea--these laid-off teachers get some income as we determine if more full-time openings come available--but upon closer inspection it's the most anti-education plan that could be devised.
From what I understand, there are no math teachers among the laid-off teachers. So if a math teacher calls in sick, he or she cannot request a math teacher (or, in my case, cannot contact an awesome retired math teacher) as a substitute. Instead we get whatever laid off teacher is next "on the list". If I were to call in sick, I'd get a laid off third grade teacher--who probably isn't capable of teaching trigonometry or statistics. In other words, I'd get a babysitter, and my students wouldn't get any instruction that day.
And my district and local union agreed to this.
I can kinda see why the local union would want this, as their job is to "protect" teachers. On the other hand, though, a union that always claims "education first" and "children are our special interest"--how can they justify a policy that clearly deprives children of instruction, for the benefit of teachers? And why would the district, whose job it is to educate students, agree to this? Why would they not stipulate an entirely reasonable condition about credential area?
As someone who cares deeply about the education of the students in his charge (and who averages 3 missed days of school a year, except for the big ski accident), I am both mystified and mortified by this substitute teacher policy. My students deserve better, and in fact we could do better--but neither the union nor the district wants to.
And that's sad.