ISHPEMING TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLUC) - Students all over the U.P. have been going to school to see an unfamiliar face at the front of the classroom.
The need for substitute teachers has increased over recent years due to teachers taking more time off, according to NICE Community School District Superintendent Bryan DeAugustine.
He says this is because teacher pensions have decreased and the cost of health care has increased, resulting in educators viewing time off as a fringe benefit. DeAugustine says this isn’t only an issue in the U.P.
“This is across the nation, we’re seeing that teachers who miss ten or more days over the course of the school year has crept up into the upper twenty and lower thirty percent depending on where you are,” said DeAugustine.
NICE Community School District says teachers taking time off mixed with the small sub pool has caused some obstacles, but they are grateful for their hardworking staff who are willing to help out one another.
After this story aired and was posted to social media, DeAugustine offered the following statement"
"I want to write a quick apology to our teaching staff regarding the Mining Journal article and TV 6 broadcast regarding substitute teachers. I’m usually more careful about how I speak with the media. My points about teachers taking more days off in the modern era than in the past was part of a broader range of comments including how well our teachers help out their counterparts by filling in when and where they are needed, and how a severe reduction in pensions and the rising costs of health care have made personal time off a more important fringe benefit.
"I also mentioned that this is not just a regional or local issue and talked about how nationwide we are seeing teachers missing 10 or more days reaching into the upper twenty to low thirty percent range. (“Nationwide, 28 percent of teachers were absent for more than 10 school days during the 2015-16 school year.” By Alex Harwin and Debra Viadero, June 5, 2018, Education Week)
"I also went on to speak about how teachers are utilizing these provisions that they bargained for in their collective bargaining agreements and that society is seeing similar trends in manufacturing and even pro sports; i.e. pro athletes are missing more games than their predecessors to take care of themselves physically and in terms of their mental well-being. Teachers are not doing anything wrong, teacher attendance is simply one more piece of the substitute teaching puzzle.
"I’m not trying to shift blame or play the victim. To be clear, I am not blaming our news agencies or reporters at all. I said what I said to both media outlets. My comments did come out much more negatively in print and in the broadcast than I intended. I apologize for being careless with my words and will be more careful in the future. Words matter. What and how my words are heard or read matters much more than what I thought I said or what I intended. This lesson will stick with me and help me be a better person and a better educator."
The link to the Facebook post statement is also embedded below.