Schools across the country are facing a substitute teacher shortage, with administrators exploring alternative and often creative ways to tackle the problem. Among the measures taken have been a pay increase and outsourcing substitute teacher recruitment to special agencies.
Geoffrey Smith, founder of the Substitute Teaching Institute in Utah, cites a survey showing that half the nation’s school districts are facing severe substitute teacher shortage. The Office of the State Actuary paints a grimmer picture, arguing that a Washington-wide survey in 2014 revealed that out of 94 school districts, 84 reported difficulties finding substitute teachers.
According to Holly Brantley of KFVS, Poplar Bluff, Missouri school officials have decided to raise substitute teachers’ salaries and offer more incentives as a way of making themselves more appealing to available substitute teachers. The officials have also recently approved a plan to install a software that will make teacher substituting easier.
The Highlands County School board in Florida is looking to outsource the process to a firm, Marc Valero of Highlands Today observes. Highlands is one of many school districts that are compelled to explore other options for accessing substitute teachers. The Affordable Health Care Act which expects school districts to provide health insurances to subbing teachers and the fact that a growing number of education students don’t choose teaching as a career path combine to make things difficult. Highlands considers assigning its teacher subbing to an outsourcing firm as a way of putting in place a more efficient subbing strategy despite it being a more costly solution.
Outsourcing firms seem to be a safe and reliable solution as substitute teachers often prove to be unreliable with their commitments. Not completing the evaluation process, failing to show up for subbing, and not answering their phones are among the issues schools bump into when trying to implement a thorough and effective substitute teacher system.
Megan Reust from Wane TV wonders whether politics is to blame for the shortage of substitute teachers. The Fort Wayne Education Association President, Julie Hyndman, asserts that the politically charged public education environment and the low salaries discourage qualified sub teachers from applying to what Hyndman considers a complex and demanding job:
“Everything has to do with student achievement according to the state test. I think that that would be one of the largest factors – being able to fulfill all of that. It’s a tough duty. It’s a tough job!”
Fort Wayne pays $95/day for substitute teachers, which is among the highest rates, but still not alluring enough to fill its sub positions 100%. In cases when substitute teachers don’t add up, schools districts get creative recruiting resource center teachers, move students to other classes or have school staff members oversee students until qualified teachers can be found.