Letters to the editor

Ohio’s substitute teachers should have education degrees

Dear Editor:

Education majors know that finding a full-time job teaching will be next to impossible if they don’t have connections. Teachers are being laid off left and right. Both are facts. Most education majors will have to substitute teach. Good luck.

Why is a minister teaching 10th-grade science? Why is an unemployed marketing major trying to teach first graders to read? Why is an unemployed Ancient Greek language major teaching math?

I’ll tell you why: It’s because in Ohio a substitute teacher can have a college degree in anything, and if he has a friend in the school who will hire him — instant job! Never mind that these people never had the desire to be teachers! Let’s hire them anyway!

The schools try to “cover themselves” by saying these people have “short-term” sub licenses, good for up to 5 days. In actuality, this only means that the preacher can teach 10th-grade science for 5 consecutive days, then his friend in administration puts him in ninth-grade math for one day, then back to 10th-grade science for another 5 days. The cycle is repeated for the entire school year.

Why do I care? It’s because I graduated from Kent State with a triple major in education. My combination was considered so grueling on the students that Kent State doesn’t even offer it any longer. That is MY dedication to Ohio’s children. I have a long-term sub license as an intervention specialist from kindergarten to 12th grade, and I can short-term sub in any subject or grade. But I don’t have “connections,” so am I called in to substitute teach? Oh sure, maybe three or four days a month when some principal somewhere can’t get one of their “non-education” buddies in for the day they deign to call me. I have spoken to “pseudo-subs” who have worked every single day this school year because they have a friend who is the principal, or the secretary who calls the subs, etc. One even told me it was “a whole lot easier than factory work.” In what universe is this fair to the students?

If Ohio was fair, just and cared about the education in public schools, then every Ohio school would be using an education graduate (a real teacher) for substitute teachers. (Believe me, there are enough of us out there.) The unemployed marketer shouldn’t even be considered, because that marketing major has no more idea about teaching reading than I have about marketing.

Schools try to argue that they need these non-educators on the sub list so the can be assured enough subs are available. This is a smoke screen. I have “made the rounds” of many schools to make sure my name has been included on their sub list. In striking up conversations with the office employees, I have learned that on the average day 20 to 25 percent of subs on the list are called. The people who actually schedule the subs gave me this figure.

But what if the lists dropped every non-education major — let’s say doing this reduced the list by 50 percent (an extreme number). Simple arithmetic tells us that there would still be an excess of substitute teachers, but every one of them actually went to college to become a teacher!

You education majors jumped through the hoops and put up with the necessary nonsense to become teachers. Are you going to let these “pseudo-subs” take your work away from you? Enough is enough! Write or call your senator and representative and demand that the first requirement for substitute teachers must be that they have earned a degree in education. After all, do you want to flip burgers when that philosophy major is subbing for eight months of the school year?

Dean Livesberger

New Washington, Ohio