Monday, May 12, 2008

Major "newseum" sources need to report on substitute teaching issues


I’ve written about my own experience as a substitute teacher on this and on my main blog several times, and noted some problematic areas in how substitute teaching works in many states. There are often questions about the lack of licensure, and in the fact that some substitutes, especially some retirees, may not have experience communicating with younger children or low-income students needing specific kinds of attention and communication, especially in the matters of classroom discipline (or “classroom management”) and motivation. Sometimes the best subs are ex-military.

I’ve tried to cover some of the more subtle and esoteric aspects of these problems on the blogs. However, I think the problems are so pervasive and widespread that the “journalism establishment” – the “Newseum World” – needs to cover it in detail. I think that major newspapers in this area (The Washington Post, and I count the Washington Times) need to cover the problem with detailed stories. (I could add USA Today, but its stories tend to be brief, synoptic, and high-level. More detail with anecdotes is needed here.) I think this is a good subject for a report on ABC 20/20 or something like Anderson Cooper 360. The stories should be developed and reported in the professional and “objective” manner commensurate with the ethical standards of major journalism companies.

The media admitted to the need to cover this after the John Mark Karr episode in 2006 (he had been a sub) – the need to look at how we hire and retain subs – but then got quickly forgotten.

Here is a reference from 1997 from Eric Digest, “Not Just a Warm Body: Changing Images of the Substitute Teacher,” link here.

I will help any such effort in any way that I can.

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