Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Why it is Harder to Find Jobs: and Why it Oughtn't be Ex-Teachers vs. Subs”

By Anonymous

This is my third year being a substitute teacher for OUSD. I try to work as many days as I can, up to five days a week. And each year it seems incrementally harder to find work than the last. Talking to older subs, I have heard them say that they used to get tons of calls for jobs, back when it was all done telephonically, when the demand for needed substitute positions far exceeded the supply of substitute professionals, before the recession. But this year has been special. And although not an expert on the subject, I can tell you some of "what" has changed and also some of the "why.”

At the OEA Substitute Caucus two years ago, I remember sitting in on a Bargaining Session (with the same team in 2008/2009 as now in 2010/2011!!!) when there was talk about trying to "bargain" into the OUSD-OEA contract some "language" for rewarding long-time subs with some sort of benefits package. This idea was based on a precedent set in Los Angeles that substitute teachers who work at least 100 days in the previous year are awarded a form of benefits if they continue to work a certain amount of days the following year. Uninsured, this was and still is a very important issue for me. Ultimately the Bargaining team had to back off of this proposal. The following school year (2009/2010) there was a large number of teacher lay-offs in LA, and these laid-off teachers were given priority status over (regular) substitute teachers for acquiring substitute jobs within their district. At the time, this was a big deal because it became harder for long-time subs to maintain their benefits package through working consistently. This generated some animosity between the two groups. I don't know what has become of that situation today...

So, mirroring LA last year, OUSD has laid off a large number of teachers this year. I received a memo in the mail with some confusing jargon about teacher lay-offs that I thought was unrelated to how I go about getting jobs in this district. A fair number of my jobs come from teachers I have subbed for before, requesting me to come back, who put my employee ID directly into the system. Sometimes the secretary or assistant principal does this for them. But as I now understand it, this year there has been a change in the way substitute jobs are created. This request-method may have been replaced with a system where all jobs are listed on the Smartfind Express website to be offered first to laid-off teachers and second to (regular) substitute teachers. SO. That may be why there are less jobs on the system these days. This is what I believe the memo, which you may or may not have received, was trying to communicate.

A final point: This obviously won't generate the same ex-teacher vs. sub animosity it did in LA, particularly because benefits aren’t on the line. I still believe that this is neither groups’ fault. With no official contract and an attempted imposed contract still looming from last year (and the year before that), it is especially important to stick together as coworkers in the crazy profession of teaching: substitute or otherwise.

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