Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's All About The Kids (Except When It Isn't)

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.


maxutils said...

While you're entirely correct . . . what were the odds of you getting a math teacher anyway, unless your absence was planned well in advance?

KauaiMark said...

"...get whatever laid off teacher is next "on the list"

Yeo! That's why I probably won't get any calls for a couple weeks.

To answer maxutils question, Darren (and other teachers in our district) are allowed to call subs they know directly to arrange a replacement

The majority of my assignments are handled that way.

Michael said...

If you think the CTA really cares about children, you might be a democrat.

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Please don't get sick! That's terrible. :/

maxutils said...

KauaiMark . . . we can do that too . . .there are just about two math subs in the entire district.

momof4 said...

The supply might be greater if ed-world credentialism wasn't applied. As I posted on Joanne Jacob's site, I have a cousin, with a bachelor's and master's from a top engineering school and decades of experience in the industry, who was a volunteer math/physics tutor at a loca HS. Someone like that would be a better sub than someone with no subject-area background. A (now retired) headmaster at a top academic prep school said that private schools keep lists of people like that, along with former teachers. I have a friend that was on that list as a French sub-no ed credits or teaching experience, but went to a French HS in Brussels and on to a college French major. The head wanted to hire her full-time because her French was better than his current teacher.

Vulcan Archer said...

Hi! I'm trying to contact you via email (interesting news tip I thought you might like), but the link on your profile page isn't there another way I can contact you?


Darren said...

It's not really a link on my profile page--that would invite spammers! But considering that it's my Yahoo username, just add to the end of it and it'll work.

Anonymous said...

My school district employed the same policy for the past two years. My department head simply refused to use our automated system. He would tell our school secretary who trusted him to have his regular sub (retired department member) show up on time. Problem solved.

allen said...

The union's not responsible for this stick-in-anything-that-breaths policy.

Substitute teacher policy that was more concerned with getting someone - anyone - into a classroom rather then trying to find someone who could teach the class predates the formation of teacher's union. If unions had anything to say on the matter they'd have a million delicately delineated distinctions among teachers to boost the total.

Responsibility for the policy lies at the feet of the school board and is a convenience for the administration.

The foundational nature of the policy can really be seen in the fact that state legislatures had to get involved to make sure that teachers with special ed training are the only teachers for special ed kids. Otherwise the administration, with the tacit approval of the school board, would have stuck anything with a certification in front of the kids. Until the advent of such laws that's exactly what was done.

So it's the convenience of the administration, with no policy directive to the contrary, that produces the "next on the list" policy.

Darren said...

Yes, Allen, the school board and/or superintendent is ultimately responsible for everything that occurs in the district--but that doesn't get the union off the hook for pushing this idea.