Since the landscape of public school teacher contracts has changed recently there has been some grumbling from the bleachers about teachers being compensated an extra $15 an hour if they are called upon to substitute for another class during their scheduled preparation period. Having been a substitute teacher over the years, long and short term, I have an opinion about this which I would like to share.
There are certain occupations within our society that should be revered and appreciated, even if not understood, such as doctor, nurse and teacher, among others. They serve society at large, require a vast amount of personal responsibility and effort, and help shape the future of the world.
You should not be trying to screw them out of a lousy $15 because there was a shortage of substitutes one day. That $15 per hour would have gone to whoever substituted that day so it’s not exactly an extra expense, it is merely being distributed to the people doing the job.
That lost preparation hour means doing the work at home, maybe at a great inconvenience, maybe not, but taking work home is nothing unusual for teachers. The least that should be done is compensate them for the unexpected hour. Do you think so little of the teaching profession that you would want to say to teachers, “Your time isn’t worth $15 an hour”? The public has entrusted these professionals with their children, and some will see and interact with the children more hours of the day than their parents, and yet you think so little of them that you would nickel and dime them to death?
Early in my first stint as a substitute, a long term assignment, I remember thinking,” Whatever they pay these teachers, it’s not enough” and after many more experiences I still hold that opinion. Even if all the children were perfect ladies and gentlemen, which they aren’t, and everything ran smoothly every day, which it doesn’t, the course of preparing, presenting curriculum, correcting papers, essays and tests can easily run into overtime at home. I won’t even go into the personalities they have to deal with because you know what your kids are like.
There isn’t enough space in this newspaper to print all the challenges a teacher faces each day or the rewards they experience in a career, one that they have chosen for better or for worse, but one for which they should be well compensated. If you want to pay Walmart prices for your doctor, lawyer or teacher you’re going to get what you pay for.
It’s easy to judge someone whose shoes you haven’t been in. When I read about the wages and bonuses earned by corporate CEOs I think they make an exorbitant amount of money but the fact is I have no clue whatsoever what they do to earn it or exactly what their job entails. But I do know what teachers do and I do know that they deserve what they’ve bargained for and they don’t deserve to have school boards, taxpayers or a tyrannical state governor stabbing them in the back. Not for $15.