Guest Editorial: The Herald-Times 10 August 2011

HeraldTimesOnline.com

GUEST COLUMN

Sub teachers deserve a pay raise

HeraldTimesOnline.com
August 10, 2011

This guest column is by Bloomington resident, substitute teacher and former MCCSC employee David Wierhake.

In February, I appeared before the MCCSC School Board to discuss compensation levels for substitute teachers. I explained that the day rate for substitute teachers has remained flat for the past decade, while there have been incremental annual pay increases for both staff and teachers alike.

I also referred to the national average pay rate for sub teachers to be approximately $105/day. (Source: National Substitute Teachers Alliance). Everyone seemed surprised saying, “That’s interesting. No one has brought this issue to our attention before.” One board member suggested that someone take on this issue as a “graduate thesis,” intimating that said issue might be outside the interest of the school board. Such an issue deserves more than some pet educational exercise; it is a real life issue involving real people who not only depend on sub teaching income to survive, but who thrive and excel within our educational system.

Upon learning that the new school year would be extending the teaching day, I contacted school board president Jim Muehling via email regarding pay adjustment for subs. Human resources assistant superintendent Peggy Chambers is on record saying “the school system could not function without substitute teachers” and superintendent Judy DeMuth said via an H-T chat that “our substitute teachers have a most difficult job and are extremely important to us.”

If you ask someone to work an hour longer in a day, one would expect you would compensate them for that additional hour, correct? Last year’s rate of $60/day non-certified teachers and $70/day certified teachers will remain in place — no increase for that additional hour. Adding another $9-$10 to that base would be in Muehling’s mind “out of the question.”

Muehling made the “apples and oranges” comparison between sub teachers and licensed teachers — who receive health care and retirement benefits — saying that teachers only got a 1 percent pay raise. From Mr. Muehling’s perspective, “. in a university community we are in a position to secure an educated and talented substitute pool which plays some role in the law of supply and demand” rather than the “law of fairness and ethics.”

In Madison, Wis., home to another Big Ten university, substitute teachers are included within the teacher’s union — Madison Teachers Inc. — privy to the benefits of contract negotiation, wage progression, sick leave, and health benefits; a university community where an educated and talented substitute pool exists, but where the “law of fairness and ethics” overrule Muehling’s “law of supply and demand.”

As the new MCCSC budget(s) come under discussion, I strongly urge our school board to find it within their hearts to work whatever financial magic they can and increase the day rate for sub teachers to compensate this talented yet silent pool of fill-in teachers who keep our schools running successfully. In other school systems throughout the U.S., substitute teachers are treated with dignity and respect as the professional educators they are, and receive compensation commensurate to the essential services they perform.

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2011

http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/stories/2011/08/10/digitalcity.qp-9673972.sto

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