MCCSC Crossing Guards Paid More Than Twice The Hourly Rate Of Substitute Teachers

MCCSC School Board Meeting 23 August 2011

Comments delivered by MCSSC Substitute Teacher David Wierhake

I stand before you this evening with this red accordion in hand and my substitute teacher ‘Red Badge of Courage’ for no other reason than to make a point. I look out and in front of me I see the members of our school board, all elected by the community with the exception of Mr. Klein who failed to gain enough votes to serve on two occasions but who some how miraculously found his way into the boardroom by appointment. But I know Mr. Klein and the entire board take their jobs very seriously. But like the insides of this accordion, which by the way I on occasion take into the classroom, I cannot look into each one of your hearts to examine your moral and ethical makeup. And like an accordion, each one of you is different—different backgrounds, values, ‘tone and manner’ if you will.

The past three days I’ve filled in at Tri-North as a remediation aide, which is ‘housed’ in the ISD room. At most there are three students each period. They are not in trouble they just desire extra one-on-one assistance. Yet, I heard, “I don’t have anything to do.” When on any sub assignment I bring in books that I feel might interest students. My suggestions sometimes fall flat. I was moved after the first day to put up the sign: YOU CAN LEAD A PERSON TO KNOWLEDGE, BUT YOU CAN’T MAKE THEM THINK.

This bit of wisdom caused me to ponder yet another sign: YOU CAN ELECT SOMEONE TO A POSITION OF POWER, BUT YOU CAN’T MAKE THEM LEAD.

Everyone knows why I’m here. I’m speaking out on behalf of not only substitute teachers, but also all support staff members regarding fair and equitable compensation in light of the new extended school day.

School board president Jim Muehling said recently, “Data is critical.” In truth, ‘data’ is just data and can be manipulated to one’s own end. What is critical to making wise decisions is accurate, unbiased, and unfiltered information.

This past academic year sub teachers averaged $9.60/hr ($60/day 6.5-hour day). This year it’s $7.65/hr ($60/day 7.75-hour day). It’s interesting that Muehling was shaken by my suggestion of increasing sub pay rates to allow for the additional hour e.g. another $9-plus added to the day rate saying, “Suggesting the feasibility of a 15.4% increase is ludicrous in the mildest of descriptions…” Would Mr. Muehling—or the entire Board as Ms. Jeanette Butler is on record saying that Mr. Muehling is the official spokesperson and she would not comment further on this issue—characterize an almost 20% pay cut to sub teachers as “Ludicrous in the mildest of descriptions?” I certainly would. I can imagine that Mr. Muehling would consider no additional pay to sub teachers for that extra hour of work as ‘business as usual’ or the ‘law of supply and demand’.

FACT: Crossing guards made $15.68/hr in 2008. (What they are making in 2011-12 I know not, but I doubt they saw a 20% pay cut to their hourly rate.) Risking ‘life and limb’ entering into a 4-way stop with a hand-held STOP sign has its price, but twice the sub teacher hourly rate? Are said guards required to have 60 hours of college credit to oversee the safety of our walking-friendly children? “Top of the morning!” to this street-savvy group who now rise a bit earlier to earn their keep. No doubt the MCCSC ‘leadership’ has certain priorities regarding the compensation packages they sign off on.

On August 12th I met with new Superintendent Dr. DeMuth (Peggy Chambers of HR in attendance) regarding substitute teacher pay rates. She continued the same mantra as Mr. Muehling stating that the law of supply and demand rules and that the school corporation could get IU students for “free”. Everything is set, she said until January 2012, and then the administration would review this and other issues facing MCCSC. Then she waved multi-sheet document under my nose what she called a ‘study’ of sub teachers pay rates from surrounding communities. (She also referred to my ongoing email citizen comments as “barrages” and suggested that I had no power to ‘work with the school board’. (I had to enlighten her to the fact that the community elects school board members, and as such, I have all the power in the world to speak out as a citizen of both this community and the USA.) When I requested a copy of the report I was given this single sheet. As you can see this is nothing but a list of sub teacher pay rates corporation by corporation with no reference to school hours or length of day.

I would like to request that the Board take on an actual and factual study comparing not only neighboring school corporations regarding substitute teacher pay rates, but also other communities within the US that play home to universities or colleges. I have engaged in some research to augment the list that sub coordinator Patti Sparks supplied Dr. DeMuth and Ms. Chambers and would be more than willing to share this information or data.

In closing, I would like to quote Dr. Martin Luther King:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” and “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

And the issue regarding fair and equitable pay for substitute teachers within MCCSC sincerely matters to me.

David Wierhake

Bloomington IN

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