Thursday, January 14, 2010

Teaching: there is no substitute

Always loved the Porsche ad that used that tag line. In the case of teaching it really is true and you can see it first hand in an op-ed by Carolyn Bucior in the New York Times called "The Replacements". I blogged about the numbers of substitute teachers and the impact on students over at our ABCTE Blog. Essentially there are over over 176,000 substitute teachers adversely affecting over 2.6 million students every day!

That is horrible!

But how do you solve this? The teaching profession should fight this just as hard as they used to fight alternative teacher certification. Using their logic, would you send in a substitute nurse, lawyer or doctor if the licensed professional was ill that day? Would you send in a substitute engineer who didn't even have a college degree to take over the engineering duties designing the bridge that day?

In the rest of the world, you take absenteeism into account when you are staffing your organization. If you have to staff 30 positions and you know that 5% will be out on any given day, you hire the 31 or 32 people - depending on how you want to round. You don't use "temps" unless you are in a high growth mode and can't get the talent. These would be full time, well trained people who could take any class is someone were out. If not, they help with planning, tutoring, training time etc. If there are more people out, the administration has to fill in that day. It is what the rest of the world does - why not our schools?

Efficiency and productivity starts with better staffing models. In this case, it is really an easy fix and the students win.