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More Eye-Opening Facts about Who Is Teaching Your Child

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As long as there is a public school system and humans are humans who get sick, hurt, need to attend conferences and, as the

"Too many teachers are leaving their children's education in the hands of unskilled, untrained stand-ins."

"Too many teachers are leaving their children's education in the hands of unskilled, untrained stand-ins."

article to which you will be referred notes, home-and-garden shows, your child will from time to time run into a substitute teacher.

I doubt that I’m an anomaly; my memory of walking into a classroom to find a sub was akin to a neon sign declaring, “You’re off for the next 50 minutes – hooray!” Today’s New York Times op-ed piece by Carolyn Bucior titled “The Replacements,” tells the story from the other side – that of the substitute teacher.

For starters, it’s a good read – very well written. I hope Ms. Bucior was tossed into at least a few English classrooms. She’s working on a memoir about substitute teaching, so the article contains a lot of eye-opening facts for parents about who is teaching your child. Here goes:

  • 77 percent of American school districts give no training to substitute teachers.
  • 56 percent hire subs without a face-to-face interview.
  • Substitutes have no idea which children have medical issues.
  • Substitutes aren’t provided with basic rules to address behavioral issues.
  • In 28 states, principals can hire anyone with a high-school diploma or GED to sub. No state requires a teaching degree.

Besides being frustrated by a lack of training or support, substitute teacher Ms. Bucior is angered by how many days teachers are out of their classrooms. “Nationwide,” she writes, “5.2 percent of teachers are absent on any given day, a rate three times as high as that of professionals outside teaching and more than one and a half times as high as that of teachers in Britain.” Not to be overlooked is the fact that “teachers in America are most likely to be absent on Fridays, followed by Mondays.”

Overall, your school attending child will have a substitute teacher for just about a year, all told. “Taxpayers shell out $4 billion a year for subs.”

Among other remedies for this serious problem is a bill before Congress, the Substitute Teaching Improvement Act – to provide school districts with more taxpayer money to train substitutes. Additionally, the Department of Education is proposing schools report teacher absences if they wish to be eligible for federal stimulus money.

The article concludes, “Parents and educators should realize that too many teachers are leaving their children’s education in the hands of unskilled, untrained stand-ins.”

Two weeks ago Parent at the Helm reported on an insider’s expose of “unskilled, untrained” scorers of the all-important standardized tests. Today, a substitute teacher is exposing the same about her counterparts. These people are willing to talk. Are parents and taxpayers listening?

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One Response to “More Eye-Opening Facts about Who Is Teaching Your Child”

  1. Dave Saba says:

    ABCTE ( is a non-profit set up to help people transition into teaching at a very low cost through an online certification program. I wonder how substitutes would feel if they had to go through something like this in order to teach. The cost is $975 (there is $150 off in January if any parents are ready to get into teaching) – do you think that is too much to ask to get into the profession?

    We have over 250 hours of content and pedagogy to make sure people are ready for the classroom.

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