Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Children First - Break Up Those Classes

I talked to the AP today who said there were 7 teachers absent but they can only afford to hire 1 sub from now on. They're splitting the classes. It's hard to believe that parents or teachers aren't complaining about all these split ups.

Thus reports a NYC substitute teacher. Beside splitting up classes (imagine the impact of splitting 6 classes) it can also mean pulling prep teachers to cover classes, which means either teachers lose their preps or kids get piled into the auditorium for a mass prep. Or the reading or math or ELA specialist are pulled to cover the class. But I bet there's plenty of lost preps and some intimidation if teachers try to get paid. (We used to file class size grievance violations when they piled kids into our classes and they backed off a bit. And we also enforced payment for missed preps which cost the school money.)

Our correspondent continues:

You may not be aware of the main problem with subbing this year. Schools don't have budget for subs. 2 schools I previously worked at told me at the beginning of the yr. that they weren't hiring any subs this yr due to budget cuts. My regular school was calling me irregularly and finally just stopped in mid Dec. They have only 1 sub they're calling this yr. They've told their teachers not to call sub central. I'm hardly getting any jobs from SC and other subs aren't working much either.

I'm surprised not to hear more about this situation.

Sc did call me a few times including a nice school. It illustrates well the 5th point [in Accountable Talk's list] in how to improve the schools - Get Rid of supervisors. The first time I was there everything seemed so relaxed I kept mentioning that to different teachers. Everyone had the same response – that's because the principal has been missing for 6 wks. They probably can still hire a bunch of subs since the principal is not there to say they can't afford it.

In schools with ATRs, they are functioning as subs. But there are apparently not enough ATRs. The DOE solution is simple. Close enough schools to create enough ATRs so you have enough subs. After all, why pay someone $150 a day when you can pay them $300 or more?


  1. Norm:

    This is more of Tweed's children last program.

  2. My school doesn't hire subs. (Accept for the per deim who is hired every day to cover the SAVE room, even when there are no children assigned to her room. Then she was assigned to help out in the office. As CL, along with my committee, we were able to stop that.)

    We are a small school, only 13 classes, and on some days we have had 5 teachers out (because of going to calendar days at Teachers' College). 3 or 4 classes have been split on the same day, including PreK (principal expained that was because it is a small class). And our CTT classes only have 1 teacher when 1 of them is absent, Also, no para subs have been hired.

    But the principal complains that the problem is teachers are abusing their absent days.

    And TC is very expensive, even if subs are not hired.

  3. Thank you Norm. It's true that there is massive attrition of subs. Substitute teachers are the worst treated and most neglected in our union.
    As an officer of thr UFT Per diem committee I have been trying to help fix these problems and many others like firing subs using an arbitray "do not call list", calling subs at random to dificult schools, and then saying they have deficiencies in "classroom management", etc. Allowing Sub Central to "progressively discipline" subs when those who run the registry have never subbed a day in their life, nor have they formally observed subs in the classroom. Veteran subs are being placed on the Ineliegible List Using Sub Central's internal "monitoring" system, and sending "do not call" letters to subs in the mail for alleged incedents as far back as 2004!!Using Sub Central as "reasonable assurance" to deny unemployment benefits. Double booking subs to schools and then sending them home without work or pay. Telling schools that Sub Central MUST be used when the D.O.E. and the UFT know that it is an optional system.
    I will post more on the decimation of subs at a future date.
    We must organize in order to move the powers that be to deliver us from these human rights abuses.
    But subs are frightened and many will not file grievances.
    A rally at Tweed would be a start.

  4. The teachers in my school were wondering when the next UFT election is coming up. Some suggested we start attending the ICE meetings to organize to defeat the mayor and Randi. A couple of teachers thought that a new UFT president might just be compromised like the current one, but we all agreed that we can't let them just pick us off one by one anymore.

  5. Anon 11:25
    A fuller response about the elections will be forthcoming in a main line blog post.

    Please feel free to attend an ICE meeting (next one is Jan. 16 -see sidebar). If you'd like we can also arrange a separate meeting with some of us and the people in your school to discuss a range of issues.

    The Jan 16 meeting has a full agenda so me may not get to any schoolwide issues you have but there will be a discussion on the elections both for chapter leader this year and the general elections in 2010.

    Contact me offline to arrange a meeting at your school or in the vicinity if you wish.



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