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Voices / A Forum for Community Issues | Community Viewpoint

Inner-City Schools Can Be Tough

November 14, 1998|DANA PERRYMAN | Principal, John Muir Middle School, L.A

There is a serious teacher shortage throughout the state of California, as witnessed by school districts going out of state to recruit teachers, numerous newspaper advertisements and recent legislation making it financially beneficial for teachers to remain on the job past traditional retirement age. Muir suffers from this same teacher shortage.

During the summer, I worked diligently to fill 19 open positions at Muir Middle School. However, due to circumstances beyond my control (job-related injuries and sudden teacher relocations), there are two positions where substitutes have been hired until the permanent teachers return from leave.

Mr. Hooe is confused about the status of many of our teachers. He assumes emergency credentialed teachers are long-term substitutes. This is not the case. The state issues emergency credentials to teachers who have a bachelor's degree and who are currently enrolled in the required credential classes. When a teacher is on extended leave, Muir usually hires an off-track teacher from a neighboring year-round school. This practice has met with much success. While it is true that there have been numerous substitutes in one particular class, on Oct. 29 an off-track teacher took over the position until the regular teacher returns. The district does not allow for the permanent replacement of a teacher who is on leave for illness.

If there were no lesson plans and/or roll sheets in particular classes, as Mr. Hooe's letter states, he could have sought administrative assistance in securing these items. All teachers at Muir are required to leave lesson plans and roll sheets when it becomes necessary for their classes to be covered by substitutes. In addition, emergency lesson plans are provided by each teacher and kept in the main office. Some substitutes come prepared in the event that a lesson plan has not been left.

Being a substitute teacher can be very difficult. Some students abuse or take advantage of the situation. Unruly students should be sent to their counselor or to the dean of discipline. Referral slips are included in each teacher's substitute folder. In addition to sending students out of class, it is appropriate for a substitute teacher to leave a note informing the regular teacher of students' misbehavior, so the teacher, upon his or her return, may address these problems with the students and their parents.

Inner-city schools can be a challenge. This is my second year at Muir Middle School and I assure you that all stakeholders in our community are continually working to improve the learning environment here.

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