Q & A with CTU Substitute Delegate
By Jim Vail
|CTU Sub delegate Burma Green spoke with Second City Teachers about the perils of subbing in CPS.|
Second City Teachers spoke with Burma Green, the Chicago Teachers Union substitute delegate about the problems substitute teachers face here in the city. As more schools close and veteran teachers lose their jobs, more teachers must substitute. Yet the schools continue to face a shortage of substitute teachers, which a grievance filed by Susan Zupan, a delegate at Taylor Elementary School, revealed how the Chicago Public Schools have withheld money from adequately funding the cadre pool where day to day subs can stay at the school.
Second City Teachers: How long have you been a teacher?
Burma Green: I started my career at Joseph Medil Elementary School in 1993.
Second City Teachers: Why are you a substitute teacher now?
Burma Green: My position closed.
Second City Teachers: What are the problems with being a substitute teacher?
Burma Green: The problems with being a substitute teacher is low pay, no benefits and the lack of respect by students, staff and colleagues. The first person we meet is usually the clerk. The majority are rude and insensitive to substitute teachers. Many times we are not allowed to follow the teacher schedule, and if you ask why, it seems as though you are asserting your authority. As a result, you are told to take it or leave and don't come back. Or they may have security escort you out of the building. I was called garbage by an administrator at an elementary school in Pilsen and yelled at. At another school, I was escorted out by security when I asked why I was being removed from 1st to 8th grade. More recently, I was given 6 classes at a high school with no compensation. As a result, that school is on the Substitute Teachers Committee DNR list.
Second City Teacher: Any other problems?
Burma Green: Numerous, I'll name a few more - disrespect from students, clerks, administrators and other staff. I have had security yell at me. Issues - one member who is retired had her car stolen at a high school.
You can be put on the dnh list (Do Not Hire) without your knowledge.
Due to the lack of a place to store belongings, my valuables were taken from the classroom in one school. Few schools feel friendly and inviting, and supportive. Many of our colleagues talk to you, if at all, in a demeaning way.
You are expected to work without a prep and not be compensated. If you question why, you are told to leave, or don't come back.
Second City Teachers: What are you doing with the union to address the problems of subs?
Burma Green: CTU has in place a displaced substitute teacher committee that I chair. We meet monthly to discussed the issues faced daily by our members. Grievances are filed for compensation, as well as schools that we suggest to other subs they should avoid.
Recently, a member who had no credentials in special education taught all year. He was compensated for working as a full time teacher, but received provisional substitute pay.
Our issues are sent and discussed with the city wide delegate Dr. John Kugler and the substitute liaison Z. Foster.
Second City Teacher: Where are you subbing now?
Burma Green: I sub in the west and northern suburbs. There are ten CPS high schools that I go if I'm available.
Second City Teacher: How are the schools where you sub in the suburbs?
Burma Green: The suburban schools climate where I work is 100 percent better. The pay is aligned to teachers salary. Student and staff show respect for everyone. Subs are respected and academic standards are high. You are the teacher, as a result the students know that instruction continues.
In conclusion, subbing in CPS schools is extremely stressful.