With the flu season now in high gear, the need for qualified substitute teachers is most apparent. But the problem will persist long afterward for reasons that should surprise no one (“Pay, prep key in Mich.'s push for substitute teachers,” The Detroit News, Jan. 8, 2018).
It begins with the absurd pay. Why anyone is willing to accept what most districts offer is beyond me. For example, subs in Michigan make between $85 and $100 a day. Plumbers make more than that an hour when travel time is factored in. Then there is the lack of support provided by most schools. Even the most detailed lesson plan left is no assurance of students behaving.
Instead of lowering the necessary credits to attract more subs, why not require that each district establish a list of qualified subs who have been provided specific training for the job? They would be paid a retainer for the entire school year to ensure they would be available when needed. When summoned to pinch hit for a full-time teacher, they would be paid a supplement. My proposal would be expensive, but if we’re serious about impressing on students the importance of making every school day count, I believe it is indispensable. As things now stand, most students view the appearance of a sub as a signal to kick back and relax.
The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.