Monday, September 07, 2015

Slumming for Subs

The Philadelphia schools outsourced the hiring of substitute teachers, to a firm called Source4Teachers.  According to an article in the Inquirer on Aug. 31 ("Philadelphia searching for thousands of substitutes," by Kristen A. Graham).  Source4Teachers if offering a rate of $75 to $90 per day for uncertified substitutes and $90 to $110 per day for certified substitutes.  When the school district hired substitutes it was $126.76 for uncertified, $160.10 for certified, and retired teachers could earn more than that.  So this is a pay cut, although the company does offer health care and retirement (no details on these were offered in the article).

In the school system were I live the school day is seven hours long.  Teacher, and subs, need to arrive at least a little early to get settled and probably don't head out the door as soon as the last class ends.  There is bound to be paperwork somewhere.  A $75.00 day would come out to $10.00 per hour or less, for someone with a college degree, and possibly a master's degree.  The top rate for certified subs doesn't quite equal $15.00 per hour.  A spokesman for the firm is quoted in the article as saying "A lot of these teachers are not in it for the money.  They find themselves missing teaching, and have caught up on all the books they want to read, and now they crave being back in the classroom."  The Source4Teachers CEO suggests that people who hope to get a permanent job with the schools will substitute as a way of getting their foot in the door.  Their ads will highlight the "social value of teaching."

Teaching does have great social value, and I don't know a single teacher who went into that line of work for the money, but shouldn't social value have some connection to economic value?  Why are people who are doing good expected to do it for little or nothing?  I'm really looking forward to seeing articles discussing the reasons why bankers and hedge fund managers should work for peanuts because of the social value of what they do.  Or superintendents ... why aren't superintendents and assistant superintendents expected to work for $15.00 per hour?  I'm sure there are some retired superintendents and administrators out there who have read all the books the want to read and would be thrilled to step back into the educational stew just for the social value of it.  Or corporate CEOs and company spokesmen, maybe they could work for $10.00 or $15.00 per hour, because there is social value to their jobs, too!

If the city and the state want good schools they have to pay for them.  (BTW, state legislature, where's that budget?)  Every student deserves trained qualified teachers, fluent speakers in languages classes, AP instructors with degrees and work backgrounds in those areas, art and music teachers who have some talent and familiarity with those areas.  Even subs should have some familiarity with the subject matter.  I don't think anyone wants to walk into a classroom without having any background in the subject matter they are expected to teach.

Good schools cost money.  There's no way to do it on the cheap.

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