Little Rant about the Teachers’ Union

February 19, 2010 at 3:43 pm 14 comments

I’ve been meaning to post this story for a while and finally have time.  Just an interesting tidbit from the trenches.

My mom has worked for a few year substitute teaching in the CPS high schools.  She was always willing to go to even the worst schools so she was called quite often to teach.  I need to have her write a post about it.  It’s utterly depressing the lack of skills these kids have (OK, I’m officially old to be calling teens “kids.”)  She often comments half-jokingly that my 6yo son can write better sentences than half the kids she sees.   I think even worse is the random smart kid who is out of his element but has no other options.  Many of the schools have daycare centers for the girls with babies (which most either have or are pregnant.)  Subbing is a pretty easy gig because most of the teachers don’t leave actual lessons, but just instruct the sub to have them read or work on something independantly.

So for a couple years, my mom would call in each night and get an assignment in the morning.  I think one year her daily rate was $120 (that’s 6 hours) and then went up to $150 which is a pretty good set-up.

So this year, September comes and she calls each night.  Nothing.  And more nothing.  It wasn’t until December that she finally got a call (in the thick of illness season.)  After getting her paycheck for that day, she’s found out that her daily rate has gone up to $250, due to Union rules.

So if I’m a principal and I can choose between a $120/day teacher or a $250/day teacher (or even $90 which is what I think the new ones start at) who do you think I’ll pick?   So the work has totally dried up.  My mom has continued not to be called again this year and would be perfectly willing to work for the $150 again and actually WORK rather than get nothing.  But Union rules is Union rules people.  The Union really thought that by installing hefty raises each year that those teachers would still get work?  It’s just one of those things that doesn’t make sense to me.

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Good question…. Prescott Closing – So this helps explain it….

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. chicago parent  |  February 19, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    It makes sense to me. The least experienced subs make the least money & get the most gigs. Just kidding. It must be terrifically hard to make a living as a sub. I can’t imagine that a sub gets any support from the admin & is faced with a class of misbehaving students.

    Nothing personal against subs but I think that any regular teacher requesting a sub should be put through the ringer. He/she should need to justfiy why this sub is needed — unless at the point of death, subs should be not allowed. Any teacher requesting a sub should be required to assemble a complete lesson plan and the sub called must be competent in that subject. The frequent use of subs in cps is just another way cps short changes its students. My son has never learned anything when a sub was present. Probably not the sub’s fault — perhaps no lesson plan. Last week, he had a sub for most of his classes — a retired gym teacher “taught” his math class — the students were instructed to read from their text books.

    I would like to see fewer subs used throughout the system. Perhaps the folks from above can tighted up the system.

  • 2. hopeful  |  February 19, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Actually, your mom not being called may have something to do with the number of displaced teachers. When a school closes, through Ren2010, union teachers are guaranteed pay for one year. They are then required to sub wherever they are called to 4 days a week. They are given one day a week off to go on interviews, look for work, etc…
    My father is a retired teacher (HS) who subs for extra income. Since the above policy was instituted, he has been called to sub about half as much. Displaced teachers are given first priority and there are a LOT of them.
    I am a little confused about the $250 a day. That doesn’t sound right. I would bet there is some kind of a mix up down at central office. Presently, sub pay is $140 for a day. I know this because I have subbed. Your mom might want to dig a little deeper before they come back to her asking for their money back.
    As for teachers not having lesson plans, that is something principals have TOTAL control over. They need to be asking for emergency lesson plans that are kept in the main office, so if the sub goes in and there are no plans, they can access something to use. This was the policy at my old school and most teachers I knew used to either email in plans, or would actually come in at 7 a.m. to write up plans for the sub and then go home sick as a dog.
    I do think teachers have too many sick days. Currently all teachers get 10 sick days and 3 personal days. Each year. And they can accumulate over the life of the teacher and actually “buy” a year of service if enough are saved up. Personally, I believe that first year teachers need that many sick days because you really do get every single illness that passes by. But after that, I’d like to see it be a policy of 5-6 sick days and 1 personal days. We teachers get enough days off and can schedule doctor’s appointments and other personal issues after school or on days off.
    Lastly, schools do often use subs instead of teachers to save money, but regular teachers are paid way more than subs. I would be interested to hear more about the $250 a day subbing work, because seriously, if they are paying that, it would be enough to get me to walk into a high school instead of an elementary school.

  • 3. Really??  |  February 19, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Really and why? ? My husband (a certified teacher with a Masters degree) subbed last spring at the $130.00ish rate and even though he is no longer doing it he still gets calls from a certain Northside high school on a regular basis. I have another friend who is subbing this year and she sure didn’t mention that huge jump in pay.

  • 4. Former Chicagoan  |  February 20, 2010 at 8:27 am

    What about subbing in private and/or charter schools? I’m guessing their teachers are not unionized.

  • 5. cpsobsessed  |  February 20, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Thanks everyone – I’m going to have my mom read the comments. We’ve both questions the pay hike (since clearly in CPS mistakes are possible) but trying to find where to get it resolved is a major headache.
    As it is, she’s spent an insane number of hours trying to get paid!

  • 6. rodentface  |  February 20, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    The contract between the Board of Education and the Union is an *agreement*. The parties involved, through an official vote of their respective members, mutually agree to the rules contained therein. In fact, the title of the document is “AGREEMENT Between the Board of Education…and CTU”. There is no such thing as a ‘Union rule’.

    Regarding substitute pay, I have listed direct quotes from Appendix A of the Agreement between the Board of Ed and the CTU that govern substitute per diem rates effective July 1, 2009.

    Appendix A

    1K. Day-to-Day Substitutes

    i. Day-to-day substitutes who hold a valid Type 39 substitute certificate and who do not have a bachelor’s degree in education shall be paid as follows:
    $105.16 for a 6.25-hour day

    ii. Day-to-day substitutes who hold a valid Type 39 substitute certificate, who have a bachelor’s degree in education and who have fewer than one hundred days of service shall be paid as follows:
    $141.99 for a 6.25-hour day
    $162.28 for an 8-hour day

    iii. Day-to-day substitutes who hold a valid Type 39 substitute certificate, who have a bachelor’s degree in education and who have one hundred or more days of service shall be paid as follows:
    $148.78 for a 6.25-hour day
    $168.78 for an 8-hour day

    1L. Retired Teachers.
    Retired teachers shall be paid the following per diem rate:
    $224.97

    The information can be found on p. 182-183 of the printed version and p. 184-185 of the PDF version. [I have no idea why those pages numbers are different.]

  • 7. Anyone get a SE high school letter today?  |  February 20, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    They were supposed to go out yesterday

  • 8. Yehudit  |  February 20, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    I am the Mom who was written about as the not-called substitute. Perhaps the $250 was a mistake– I don’t know, but for the rates that were quoted from a Union manual, I was frequently paid more! Why– I sure don’t know.

    What I want to emphasize is that I am a good substitute and I don’t depend on the teacher having left lesson plans. I have developed trivia tests for almost every subject– literature, history, government, –even one for Black History Month which the students really enjoyed. I always took a bag of little prizes for correct answers. The tests are fun for the students and it helps keep order in the classroom where mayhem can easily occur.

    The other thing I think it is important to mention is that I genuinely like the students. Some subs come in and do not engage or interact with them — they take attendance and read the newspaper.

  • 9. cps teacher  |  February 21, 2010 at 3:04 am

    I’m also seconding the person who talked about the displaced teachers. That is why there have been no sub jobs.

    Displaced teachers are already getting paid, so they get priority for sub placement.

  • 10. hopeful  |  February 21, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Yehudit,
    Thanks for serving children while their teachers are not there! A good sub is worth her weight in gold! I, too, have seen subs (and regular teachers for that matter) sleeping, reading, screaming at kids and a whole host of other things that should never happen. Thanks for being one of the good ones!

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  • 14. Maggie  |  September 3, 2016 at 8:38 am

    A teacher’s union’s purpose is to protect hard working, honest teacher’s jobs. Good subs are so worth it for teachers. I have been teaching for 25 years. It is a stress when I have to be out on days when I can’t pick my sub. If I know them, I can trust that they will do the lessons I leave for them. Depending on the age of the student you must plan accordingly. I appreciate the sub that takes the job seriuosly and does what is expected. Those that read newspapers or ignore the students are a shame. It should be more than babysitting. Students can still get work done without the teacher being there…

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