Saturday, September 27, 2008

DC teacher shortage presents a contradiction with use of subs

It seems that there is areal fiasco in the Washington DC school system now with the homemade teacher shortage.

Chancellor Michelle Rhee had dismissed a lot of teachers (270 or more) for not making certification norms. Now, at McKinley Tech High School, as of Thursday Sept. 25, there were 91 classrooms without permanent teachers, with positions filled by substitutes.

The WJLA (ABC Channel 7) story in Washington DC, dated Sept 26, title “D.C. Parents Concerned About Alleged Teacher Shortage,” link here.

I had blogged about substitutes on Dec 13, 2006 and given a reference to substitute requirements in various states. I checked, and in the DC it appears one can teach with 60 college credit hours as a sub. I don’t know whether McKinley is using short term subs, or only subs that had been licensed, but it sounds as if the latter is not likely if Rhee has fired so many teachers for being short of certification. The whole situation sounds self-contradictory.

I’ve written about my own adventures as a sub in the northern Virginia systems. There is a tendency for subs to “expire” if they don’t have good experience with kids. If the teacher shortage is real, then school systems need to be serious about providing a lot more help with certification. People who might switch to teaching from other areas may be reluctant to make the financial investment into the licensure (usually 15-24 credit hours at a local university) if budget shortfalls in local governments threaten teaching positions, despite the shortage. Yup, the budget problems prevent the school systems from offering more aid for certification.

School systems and universities need to get their act together on this one. Do they really need more teachers or not?

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