Substitute teacher shortage has Inland school districts scrambling for solutions

Newsom had $5 billion put in the budget to spend over the next few years to help children make up for the loss of 18 months of education.  It includes extra hours in the day of education.  It will not happen.  There is a major shortage of teachers and substitute teachers.  On October 1, or the operative date in your school district, teachers will be FIRED for refusing to take the jab.  In fact government schools will make the education crisis worse—by policy.

“A shortage of substitute teachers this school year has left Inland districts scrambling for educators to fill K-12 classrooms each day. Without bountiful pools of guest educators to use in a pinch, school officials have had to think resourcefully to ensure students have an adult to lead instruction.

The coronavirus pandemic undoubtedly changed the landscape of substitute teaching, officials say, sending longtime guest educators down a different career path this fall.

You also have teachers that understand forcing kids to wear masks is unhealthy, keeping them isolated and told repeatedly during the day that if they do not comply they will be sent home—or die.  Real teacher’s love children, do not see them as an experiment.  Hence a teacher shortage.

Substitute teacher shortage has Inland school districts scrambling for solutions

With unprecedented teaching vacancies, district officials continue to search for permanent solutions

By Brian Whitehead, Press Enterprise,  9/24/21  

Adrienne Vollmer became a substitute teacher a decade ago to be with her kids all day.

Dorothy Bailey became one three years ago to give back.

In 2021, the two Moreno Valley Unified educators are among a disappearing breed.

A shortage of substitute teachers this school year has left Inland districts scrambling for educators to fill K-12 classrooms each day. Without bountiful pools of guest educators to use in a pinch, school officials have had to think resourcefully to ensure students have an adult to lead instruction.

The coronavirus pandemic undoubtedly changed the landscape of substitute teaching, officials say, sending longtime guest educators down a different career path this fall.

Vollmer and Bailey are among those who stayed.

“I’ve always respected the teaching profession and respected teachers because they contributed so much to my life when I was younger,” Bailey said. “I never forgot that. Eventually, I became an educator and administrator, and when I retired, I wanted to give back what was given to me.

“Substitute teaching,” Bailey continued, “was a way I felt I could do that.”

Added Vollmer: “One thing we all had to remember, and personally, I did, is that the students still need us, now more than ever.”

The Communications Workers of America Local 9588 represents about 650 substitute teachers in San Bernardino and 285 in Rialto, negotiating their wages, working conditions and other daily necessities.

Teresa Hunter, a union leader, said recently myriad factors spurred by the pandemic contributed to the current shortage of substitutes.

“Many teachers have told me that having never had this life experience of having to leave everything you know, your occupation, to stop cold and have to stay in that space for a year and a half or so, they have a different perspective now,” she said. “You have now changed how you want to spend the rest of your life.”

A number of substitute teachers lost family members to COVID-19, Hunter said.

Some substitutes, she added, lost their own battles with the disease.

“A lot of us know each other, and the ones that did not survive, it became known to the community of guest teachers,” Hunter continued. “That had an impact. Most of us, we had a different thought when we first entered the pandemic, and now our outlook on life has changed. We did not expect that.”

Moreno Valley Unified is one Inland district that has boosted daily and long-term pay for substitute teachers to entice those on the fence about taking jobs.

On a recent school day, 70 of the 176 teacher absences in the Riverside County district went unfilled, Superintendent Martinrex Kedziora said. In such an instance, district officials, county Office of Education managers, school principals and administrators, and other substitutes adjust their daily schedules to help.

Ingenuity abounds in the region.

“There’s a lot of strategic thinking, logistical thinking, in trying to figure out how best to fill spaces,” Kedziora said. “We need to make sure there’s someone in the classroom that students can depend on being there and also take care of them.”

Kyley Ybarra, assistant superintendent of personnel services for Riverside Unified, said out of the 719 substitute teachers in the district’s system, more than half have yet to pick up a job this school year.

As a result, the district averages up to 35 unfilled positions a day.

Before the pandemic, Ybarra said, rarely did Riverside Unified have an unfilled post.

“We did not think (filling positions) would be as hard as it is,” she added, “but we knew there would be hurdles.”

With unprecedented teaching vacancies, district officials are searching for permanent solutions.

Since the California Department of Education now requires substitutes only have a college degree, Riverside Unified officials have connected with graduate students at local universities to expedite them through the substitute system, Ybarra said.

In all, the district has placed about 125 student teachers in classrooms this school year.

Moreno Valley Unified also is actively recruiting alumni who have graduated college and live in the community, Kedziora said.

Job fairs have been scheduled, too.

“We’re doing some things we haven’t done before to try to be creative,” Kedziora added. “We know we have to try every method to get people for our positions, especially since everybody is trying to get people.”

Marcus Funchess sees a light at the end of the tunnel.

The assistant superintendent of human resources for San Bernardino City Unified said recently finding substitutes has always been challenging, but between the fallout of the pandemic, the need to quarantine teachers who test positive for the virus and a smaller pool of substitutes from which to draw, this school year “is very, very different,” he said.

“I’ve never seen it like this before.”

Before the pandemic, San Bernardino City Unified had upwards of 1,000 substitute teachers at the ready, Funchess said.

A third of those subs did not return this fall.

While some substitute teachers became full-time teachers over the past year, Funchess said, most left the profession for one reason or another.

The San Bernardino school district presently is soliciting candidates around town. Those driving near the 215/210 freeway interchange can see a billboard advertising opportunities to sub. EDJOIN, the popular education job board, is another resource, Funchess said.

“It won’t be an overnight process,” he added, “but we believe we can overcome this over time.”

San Bernardino City Unified needs about 350 substitutes daily, Funchess said, and whereas the district filled close to 100% of daily teaching vacancies pre-March 2020, that fill rate has hovered around 85% this year.

By December, however, the district expects to see better fill rates based on the recruiting strategies in place now.

Until then, Funchess said, there’s a way for the community to help.

“This is a very challenging time for all school districts,” Funches said. “I would ask for those in the educational field, those in the community, to be patient as school districts work to solve these complicated issues. I believe we can do it, but we need everyone’s patience, we need everyone’s support.

“Teachers need your support,” Funches added, “and district personnel and officials need your support.”

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. The covid19 is an issue clearly.

    More important is the issue of discipline in the class room, on campus, and parental attacks on teachers they don’t “think” have the right attitude.

    I have been asked many times to go back to teaching, and / or sub. The answer is the same… When kids that act out in the class, chronically late to class, do not do home work when they are capable and then the parents or advocate groups blame the teacher there is no reason to take the jobs.

    I have one friend who will only sub in private schools where the rules are defined and enforced.

    There you go….want more teachers change the way the schools are run.

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