Koonlaba: What You Thought About Eliminating Substitutes?

11164757_10206497932583916_3464456028614437679_nLast week, I shared an article that discussed how some high schools are eliminating substitutes. Instead of attending class with a substitute,  students are allowed to go to a common area and work on online assignments. The schools say it is a natural extension of technology use in education. They also claim to be saving tens of thousands of dollars. Another plus they claim is that it teaches students responsibility, trust, and time management.

I monitored the comments to that post on Facebook, Twitter, and this blog.

Here are the comments that saw some positive potential in this idea:

“Given the poor quality of attention and skill that many substitute teachers offer, I think this is a great idea. For $100 a day most subs are just bodies in the room for legal purposes. Long term subs however are a different story, obviously.”

“[My child’s] most challenging subject is math and we need a BIG math score on the Dec 12th ACT. Yet, during October, her math class had a substitute who couldn’t teach the material. The students used another teacher’s lesson plan and materials to self-teach. In some ways, it was good because some of the students taught in a way that helped her “get it” but others not so much. I didn’t raise a ruckus at [our school] because we knew it was short lived and it’s the only problem we’ve had with academics in 12+ years in this district.

Some thought this was not a good idea and noted the cons:
And there’s no one “teaching” at the common area? In Calif. that’s illegal.”
Certainly not feasible at my school. Our kids are not very autonomous, at least not in a responsible way. A huge bunch of them don’t even do their work if you’re standing over them. Of course I teach mainly bottom-quartile freshmen.”
“Of course, we know that no one is super autonomous at that age. Because their frontal lobes are not fully developed. I would have been a frustrated parent if my son had to go to a computer room when his teachers were out. It felt he was much safer with a human in the room!”
“Having worked with teens for over twenty years I am sure they stay on task and are using the time productively and not surfing the net or playing games or listening to music.”
“This is just another instance where money is taken away from education and justified in saying students will have a lesson in responsibility, trust and time management. If experience has found that this is not happening with the students in the classroom, how can it occur when there is no one around for accountability?”
“I wonder if its success would lead to eliminating teachers, as well. The logic is the same. I think “No”, based on those grounds.”
I enjoyed reading the comments to this post. You guys offered some insight. I learned a lot from reading these. Please keep sharing your opinions. This is how we build a culture of dialogue around education that is authentic.
Amanda Koonlaba is an elementary art teacher in Tupelo, MS. She is a contributor to MSEdBlog. Her views are her own and do not represent the views of any other entity.

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