Frances Scalise’s letter in response to “Sub shortage strains schools” (CDT, Sunday) rang true for me and for other would-be substitutes.
Retired teachers who possess the state-required background checks and certifications are a great source for school districts but represent a small number of what is needed by the districts.
Those interested in substituting may be deterred by the legal requirements — three background checks that must be renewed and are mandated by the state, cost almost $50 and can take up to six weeks for processing, plus a current teaching certificate or an emergency certificate issued by the district Central Intermediate Unit.
This is just the bare minimum. Private schools require an additional state arrest conviction report, drug-screening test, completion of a youth protection course, a third-person reference letter and three other standardized forms. All of this is for the possibility of work maybe three or four times a month.
For those who want to enter the teaching profession, there’s also the growing recognition of what’s called the “sub-trap.” Substitutes who spend the effort and money in maintaining certifications and are good at substituting become favored by schools, but only as substitutes. Recognizing the difficulty in maintaining a pool of qualified substitutes, the schools don’t often hire them as full-time teachers.
Fixing this and many other challenges in the education industry requires a fundamental change. What other government or corporate profession has the same structure? None I can think of. But I can think of a better way.