November 14, 2007
This one was about as unexpected as I-95 traffic tie-ups on Thanksgiving eve. If you make aspiring teachers jump through lots of hoops, don't allow school districts to pay more to instructors in high-need subjects or schools, and outlaw emergency certification, then districts will face teacher "shortages"--but they'll still find a way to get warm bodies into the classroom. The long-term sub is the solution du jour. Consider Flint, Michigan, which hired over 30 long-term subs at the beginning of the year even though its 15,000-student enrollment is shrinking. High-school senior Dominique Bolden says of her math class, "The long-term sub made the learning experience very challenging because the class was not understanding him. Sometimes he made it clear that he didn't understand himself." The district and the teachers union see a solution, though: require all long-term subs to be certified. In other words, just add more regulation! May we suggest another approach? Open the classroom door to talented people without traditional credentials, pay extra to those who teach high-demand subjects or take challenging assignments, and then watch the teacher "shortage" melt away.
"Debate grows over use of long-term subs in Flint and other school districts," by Melissa Burden, Flint Journal, November 11, 2007