“One More Shot At The Title”: MCCSC’s New Year’s Resolution

 

 

Remarks delivered by David Wierhake to the MCCSC School Board and Administration on Tuesday, December 13, 2011.

I would like to thank the Board and Superintendent DeMuth for granting me the time to speak out on behalf of all MCCSC substitute teachers.

But before I get started, I just want to say how delighted I was to see Dr. DeMuth in the audience at the Fairview Elementary School CODA Academy recital last Thursday. After only five lessons, my guitar student Christopher showcased his ease at finger-picking the acoustic guitar. We played a duet on a song I wrote called “Blue Santa”. Christopher did a fantastic job! I hope I live long enough to say, “I knew him when…”

We are nearing the one year anniversary of when I first addressed the Board (February 2011) regarding substitute teacher compensation or lack thereof. Many emails have been exchanged since that time; many ideas put on the table. When the 2011-12 MCCSC extended day made headlines, again the substitute teacher compensation issue came up. The Board elected NOT to increase the day rate for subs, and therefore indirectly administered a 15% pay cut to all dedicated guest teachers. I personally met  with Dr. DeMuth in August following the Board’s inaction and again put out the plea for fairness—a day’s pay for a day’s work e.g. if you want subs to work an additional hour, then find a way to pay them for said extra hour. My efforts proved futile. In fact, Dr. DeMuth said, “Why should we pay you more? We can get IU students for free.”

At that time many on the school board were of the mind that the ‘law’ of supply and demand rule and there will always be an adequate supply of willing—and desperate—sub teachers from our university community. But in reality, there actually has been a system-wide shortage of substitute teachers this year. Granted, this shortage varies from school to school, from day to day, but everyone I talk to within the halls of learning say that, “Yes, we are having a difficult time finding qualified substitute teachers.”

I put my heart and soul into every sub teaching assignment I sign up for. When I substitute in each and every school it is a win-win situation between the students and me; their smiling young faces enrich me and they are inspired by my experience, wisdom, and wit. It is not a win-win situation between MCCSC and myself as I am compensated for my time and talents at a rate that is slightly above minimum wage. (In speaking with two BHSS students today and I found out how dedicated they were to their part-time jobs. One young man works in the deli department at a local Kroger and the other pushes carts to and ‘fro at Walmart. We figured out I make about fifty cents more per hour than they do.)

So, where do we go from here?

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy addressed the graduating class of Vanderbilt University saying:

“You have responsibilities, in short, to use your talents for the benefit of the society which helped develop those talents. You must decide, as Goethe put it, whether you will be an anvil or a hammer, whether you will give to the world in which you were reared and educated the broadest possible benefits of that education.”

He went on to say that of the many special obligations incumbent upon an educated citizen, he would include one’s obligation to the pursuit of learning and the obligation to serve the public; to assist at every level of government the improvement of education for all Americans, from grade school to graduate school.

President Kennedy also said “…modern skeptics see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing.“


At Bloomington High School North recently I had the pleasure of walking into a classroom engaged in viewing the Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have A Dream” speech. Please allow me to use some of Dr. King’s choice words:

There are those who ask me—David Wierhake, when will you be satisfied? I can never be satisfied as long as the leadership of this corporation fails to embrace this very important issue. I can never be satisfied as long as a MCCSC substitute teacher is compensated less than a MCCSC school crossing guard. I cannot be satisfied as long as the administration puts more emphasis on material resources than human resources. No, no, I am not satisfied and I will not be satisfied until the substitute teacher in this progressive community is rewarded adequately to the tune of $105/day (which is the national average) and treated with respect for the professional they are.

How many of you recall the movie A FEW GOOD MEN? Do you remember the scene where actor Tom Cruise is on the witness stand and Jack Nicholson shouts out, “You want the truth? You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”

Again, quoting JFK’s remarks at Vanderbilt University (It) will still pass on to the youth of our land the full meaning of their rights and their responsibilities. And it will still be teaching the truth — the truth that makes us free and will keep us free.”

At Grandview Elementary School today it was a blessing to experience the K thru 3 Christmas music program. Bravo! At Grandview, they have their own code of ethics, but one thing rings out: “Do the right thing!”

I encourage the school board and administration to do the right thing. And, all I want for Christmas is an increase in the sub teachers pay rate that approaches the national average of $105/day in 2012.

Thank you and “Happy Holidays!”

David Wierhake

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