Education news. In context.
Diversity & Equity
Politics & Policy
Teaching & Classroom
Student & School Performance
Leadership & Management
Charters & Choice
Find a Job
How to be a Chalkbeat source
Republish Our Stories
Code of Ethics
Our News Partners
Work with Us
Compare and Contrast
January 23, 2019
Denver pays substitute teachers about $100 a day (when there’s no strike). Here’s how that stacks up.
Among the many reactions we’ve seen to Denver’s likely teacher strike, one standout has been surprise at how much the district pays substitute teachers.
January 15, 2019
Wanted: Furloughed federal workers who can step into the classroom
The government shutdown presents an opportunity for school districts needing professionals who can step into a classroom at a moment’s notice.
March 26, 2018
Child care substitutes are in short supply. A new Colorado law could make them a little easier to find.
The bill could make it easier for child care centers to staff their classrooms when regular teachers are absent.
July 28, 2017
Week in review: A raise for some Detroit teachers — no pay for others
The situation at the Detroit charter school where teachers won’t get their summer paychecks is a reminder about…
March 17, 2016
Rise & Shine: Opt-out movement gains momentum in Tennessee as more parents, students refuse state testing
October 3, 2012
City-union deal restores ATRs to long-term substitute positions
Teachers without positions who have been cycling through different schools each week will be assigned to more stable positions again, according to a deal that the city and UFT struck a month ago. Under the terms of a different deal struck to avert teacher layoffs in 2011, the city last year sent members of the Absent Teacher Reserve, teachers whose positions had been eliminated, to different schools each week. The purpose of the rotation system, city and union officials said at the time, was to reduce spending on substitute teachers and increase the chances of ATRs landing a permanent job. But the union found that some principals were filling their long-term absences with regular substitutes instead of allowing ATRs to cycle into them, according to union officials, in less extreme examples of improprieties alleged at Fort Hamilton High School. The practice let principals maintain control over their staff and allowed them to avoid hiring ATRs, whom former Chancellor Joel Klein characterized as “teachers who either don’t care to, or can’t, find a job.” So the union filed a grievance against the city over the rotation system. The city agreed to negotiate policy changes rather than contest the grievance and risk having changes imposed by an arbitrator. The main change, city officials say, is that any absence of longer than 29 days will be filled automatically, at least at first, by a member of the ATR pool. Previously, ATRs were supposed to fill "long-term absences," but that term wasn't defined, so it often did not happen. So starting next week, ATRs will be assigned to fill absences of 30 days or more when the vacancy is in their geographic and license areas. Only if there is no appropriate long-term placement will the teachers continue to work as itinerant substitutes.
September 18, 2012
Principal's retirement seen as 'imminent' as grievances mount
Teachers at Fort Hamilton High School don't expert longtime principal Jo Ann Chester to return when school starts back up on Wednesday. As more chronically underpaid teachers at Fort Hamilton High School seek redress, the school's beleaguered principal appears to be planning her exit, according to multiple people close to the school. As GothamSchools first reported in August, the Department of Education is investigating a cost-cutting payroll scheme engineered by Principal Jo Ann Chester, who hired teachers and paid them a lower substitute rate, even as they stayed on full-time for months. Some of the people taught for over a year. Previously, just two of the 14 eligible teachers had filed grievances for backpay. But that number has increased in recent weeks and is likely to include even more, a union official said, meaning the school could be on the hook for up to $300,000. Here are more details on the scheme from our August report: According to multiple sources, Chester contrived a system to use substitute teachers for more than a year at a time without adding them to the school’s teaching roster, which would have required them to be paid more, or bumping them up to different pay rate for long-term substitute teachers. Then, she fudged documents to make sure that the teachers did not show up in the Department of Education’s payroll system, the sources said. On daily attendance sheets and student report cards, Chester replaced each substitute teacher’s name with the last name of an assistant principal and the first initial of the first name of the sub. The probe seems poised to continue without Chester in charge at the 4,200-student Bay Ridge school. A source with knowledge of the school said she was planning to retire and that her departure was 'imminent'. Multiple sources said that Chester was not expected to return tomorrow when classes resume from the Rosh Hashanah holiday break.
August 1, 2012
Major payroll improprieties alleged at Fort Hamilton High School
The principal of Fort Hamilton High School is under investigation for underpaying more than a dozen new teachers, sources say. A scheme to underpay more than a dozen teachers at a Brooklyn high school has landed the school's longtime principal under investigation. The scheme, which investigators have been probing since this spring, could also put Fort Hamilton High School on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay to teachers so desperate for a position that they accepted one with low pay, no benefits, and little security. The Department of Education's Office of Special Investigations is in the process of investigating Jo Ann Chester, principal of the Bay Ridge school since 1999, a department spokeswoman confirmed. Sources close to the investigation say investigators have been digging into payroll practices at the 4,200-student high school since at least April. The school was already under investigation because of test scores that the city deemed suspicious. Last week, a grievance from a teacher who had been underpaid was sustained, entitling him to back pay, union officials confirmed. The scheme allowed Chester to circumvent three-year-old hiring restrictions and blocked the school from being assigned short-term substitutes from the Absent Teacher Reserve, the city's pool of teachers without permanent positions. It also saved the school hundreds of thousands of dollars.
May 5, 2011
Inside an online training program for substitute candidates
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly described the requirements for becoming a substitute teacher. We regret the error. An unusual online training is among the steps people must take to become substitute teachers in New York City schools, according to a person who recently took the training. The training covers topics ranging from the appropriateness of humiliating bullies to whether sneezing constitutes a classroom disturbance, according to screenshots of the tutorial provided by the person. (A slideshow of the screenshots is below.) One screenshot shows two photos of a woman on the phone. In one picture, she looks bored, and a thought bubble reads, “Hmmm…Did I leave my clothes in the washer?” In the next, she is shown laughing while she thinks, “That is so funny! What a great story!” The question beneath: “Which image shows a person who is demonstrating good listening skills?” The full requirements of becoming a substitute teacher are unclear. An earlier version of this post incorrectly pointed to the requirements for becoming a substitute paraprofessional. According to a Department of Education web site, substitute teachers who are not certified as teachers in New York State can work in classrooms if they have a principal's nomination and successfully complete certain "assessment and training components."
October 23, 2008
The day the sub did the grading
Have a Gneiss Day was in a for a welcome surprise when she returned to her classroom after leaving her classes to the sub…
In your inbox.
Chalkbeat New York
How I Teach
Ready or Not
Rise & Shine Colorado
Rise & Shine Detroit
Rise & Shine Indiana
Rise & Shine Tennessee
The Starting Line