Friday, May 6, 2011

CMS central staffers as classroom subs?

As the saga of CMS' $100 million budget shortfall unspools, readers regularly send us their questions about why it's happening and their suggestions about what they'd do if they were in charge. One recent e-mail seemed interesting, given the toxic relationship of late between the school system's top brass and many of its teachers.

A reader named Jean Tate e-mailed the following note:

"A friend shared that in a system she once worked in ( I think it was in Texas), all central office staff ( including the superintendent) had to sub at area schools for 4 days per year. The system saved a ton of money on subs and the "ivory tower" got a dose a reality that helped everyone. I think this is a great idea for CMS. They could assign people different weeks, so no one department was overburdened at any given time -- and it would save a lot of money. I think it would improve relationships and maybe open the eyes of some of those gone from the school building for a little too long."

To be sure, CMS administrators and central staff personnel are in the schools daily. Asked about Tate's idea, CMS spokeswoman LaTarzja Henry responded:

"CMS central office staff is actively engaged in functions at each of the 178 schools in the district. In fact, area offices have moved to school-based locations to better serve their school populations. On any given day, you’ll find central office staff on school campuses coordinating programs, proctoring exams, conducting walk-throughs, providing training, supporting school staff, volunteering and documenting school events. It is our direct service to schools and active participation in school functions that allows central office staff to better understand and serve the needs of the district."

Thoughts, anyone?

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, I am not a teacher, but I do work in the Central Office. It's easy enough to project what the administrators should and/or should not do; however, many of the teachers get optional workdays - of which many of them do not work. They get longer vacation times, plus summer breaks, of which many of us (and the administrators) do not get. So, let's make it EVEN MORE FAIR and MORE WAYS TO SAVE MONEY. Let's flop. Say the administrators do the 4 days per year subbing that you're suggesting, but then teachers do 4 days per year of mandatory summer work (without extra pay or stipends). It should work both ways.

micaela said...

to Anonymous @ 2:35pm:

do you spend your personal money on office supplies? (all the teachers I know spend their personal money on decorating their classrooms & buying paper & other classroom supplies) How often do you spend nights & weekends (w/o extra pay) at work, like teachers routinely do in order to participate in required parent/teacher meetings, attend their students' extracurricular events, etc.? Sure, teachers have some perks, but so do those in administration. Please don't kid yourself. Both my parents worked as teachers and administrators, I have two kids (one special-ed), I've spent more volunteer hours than I care to tally in my childrens' schools, and I have many friends who are teachers.

As for administrators going into classrooms as subs... that's a tough one. On paper it's a great idea, but I don't want anyone in my son's classroom that doesn't have good teaching skills and the patience to deal with that particular age group. Maybe they would be helpful as TAs but not as the only person responsible for the class on any given day, KWIM?

Anonymous said...

I have worked in the district for the past 12 years. I rarely, if ever see a central office staffer in my building on a regular basis. I have seen swarms of central office staffers during periods of review. At one school where I worked, we called them the "flying monkeys" of Wizard of OZ fame. The regional was the "Wicked Witch of the West." They would come in, walk through and then present the staff with a list of things they were doing wrong. They demoralized and intimidated the staff and administration. ("I'll get you my pretty.") They would then leave the staff with a variety of tasks to "fix" the problems. There to help, I think not. There to assert their power and authority, absolutely. When you are there to help, the first words out of your mouth should be, "What can I do to help you?" Never have I heard that question come from the mouths of a central office staffer.

I have seen on occasion central office staff assisting in opening day activities. These folks were typically people who used to work at the school and were always very helpful.

Sometimes, when a death of a student occurs for example, we will get folks from downtown coming into the building to "help." In truth these folks are in the way.....like rubbernecking voyeurs looking at a car crash! You hear them talking about the tragedy for days and how bad they feel. Then they forget.

Ms. Henry is clearly delusional in her perception that central office staffers regularly assist schools. Perhaps her issue is in how she defines help. In my opinion, what central office staff sees as help is not helpful to the school. The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing in most cases. There is a disconnect for sure.

I think it would be a fantastic idea to require central office staffers to substitute in the classrooms. Sadly, I do not think these visits would help in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Wow, animosity between administration (staff) and workers (teachers). Could it be they are both correct, that both are overpaid. I like the idea of eliminating Phys. Ed teacher pay of over $60,000 for less than 10 months' work. There are so many ways to reduce costs without affecting students - why not do them all, or at least get started on some of them? One simple reason: as long as admin can point to teachers can point to school board can point to county commissioners can point to taxpayers it won't happen. When is it time to balance all the educrats with some sound business practices - I didn't say replace education professionals, I said let's get some business balance into the equation.

Anonymous said...

I think there should be subs from central office on a regular basis. THe school system cannot find enough QUALIFIED subs, so they take pretty much anyone to come in and babysit. Thsoe at the central office, if they were ever in a classroom, shoudl come and see what has happened in the interim since they left; those that are making decisions need a reality check.

part-time teacher said...

I'm curious about what qualifications subs need. Do they need NC teaching licensure? If not, why are they qualified to teach?

Anonymous said...

Annon @ 3:01 PM-I'm curious as to why you think Phys. Ed. teachers don't deserve the same respect and pay as other teachers? They are educated and trained to do their job, which includes a lot more than just letting kids bounce a ball around. My father had a Masters Degree and took his job very seriously as a Phys Ed. teacher. Given the problem w/ obesity in this country, we need these teachers!

Wiley Coyote said...

Jean Tate for School Board Chair....

Vote for One:

[ X ] Jean Tate

Anonymous said...

There are thousands of unemployed Phys Ed graduates. I think Phys Ed teachers should be paid $250,000.+ if we had the money, but to lay off other teachers and underpay other teachers who have skills that are in much more scarce supply at the same time we have Phys Ed teachers in CMS being paid over $80,000. is absurd. I am sorry for our school system if others feel that paying a fair rate, in accordance with supply and demand, is considered disrespectful. I think not adjusting pay to allow for more teachers to retain their jobs is more disrespectful to other teachers, students and our society. Remember these Phys Ed teachers have 10 month jobs without the after hour and continuing education demands. A 10 month $84,000 job (yes, CMS does pay that much to a Phys ed teacher) is the equivalent of over $100,000. per year.

Anonymous said...

Teacher pay is based on experience and education, not position. Yes, we have "2 months off" and central office staff does not. However, central office gets PAID for those two months; teachers get no pay, nor any annual leave or sick leave accrual for that time. One poster stated that they would love to see teachers do 4 days per yeat without extra pay or stipends. Do you work for free??? That is how much a teacher earns in the summer(0, nada, zilch!) I'd love to see someone from central administration take over a middle school class for a day. No special ID tag that would identify them, just a regular substitute badge. Don't think many could last the day.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Ann, I will comment. The response from downtown is BEYOND the Funniest thing I have ever HEARD!. It should read "The people downtown actually do nothing at the 178 schools in the district but we do require the people at each school to fill out several different forms of paper in order to help us justify our jobs"... FOR EXAMPLE, downtown has begun to solicit/beg/grovel all AP teachers in the district to help create Summative Exams for AP Classes because they dropped the ball and do not have the man power to create the very beast they are trying to implement. I do not think they should "SUB", rather they should be required to show up at a school (with no media) and work 5 days along with a classroom teacher so they truly see what happens at a school and not on a spread sheet. I think if these people were actually forced to go to a school and shadow a teacher for 5 days, they would not create ONE MORE silly program.

Anonymous said...

GOD THIS STUFF IS FUNNY!! Why do they lie so much downtown? Comical

Anonymous said...

I always wondered if I was the only teacher wondering why my pay to teach algebra is so much less than our middle school gym teacher's pay. Perhaps he can help me grade papers.

Anonymous said...

Latarza, thanks for telling me what the central office staff is doing, because I really did not know. I have been teaching for 27 years now, and have had maybe 2 lower level central office staff see the inside of my classroom. This year, I have not seen nor talked to ONE!!! So I guess I should be happy they are so busy visiting everyone else....of course, I have not heard any other teachers on my floor or in my department talk about any visits from downtown.... do you suppose they might not be doing much in the schools?

Anonymous said...

THE STORY OF PETE'S DELI

Last week while on MLKJ Blvd my cellphone started acting-up and receiving calls meant for other people. I transcribed one of the calls.

(P.) is for the manager
(C.) is for the customer.


(P.) “Hello, Pete's Deli where I don't get paid unless my subs perform. Whatcha want?”

(C.) “Hey Pete, Principal Smith. Send over 6 subs.”

(P.) “What kind?”

(C.)“One English, Two Math, a Biology and a Special Ed.”

(P.) “Whatsa you want with them?”

(C.)“On the English I need a dozen pencils, a ream of paper and thirty-two text books.

With the Maths send fifty-one calculators and an abacus.

The Biology gets twenty-seven frogs and the Special Ed just plain.”

(P.) “Anything else?”

(C.) “Yeh, we're fresh out of test. The kids like the easy ones.”

(P.) “Let me read that back.
An English with everything, two Maths loaded, a Biology with extra meat and a plain Special. On the side a box of test with all the answers. Anything else?”

(C.) “A gallon of Kool-Aid.”

(P.) “No can do. I drank it all, but you're lucky I can give you the Administrative Special. One of my partners is afraid we're losing our youngest customers so he is promising to pick-up part of the tab. That comes to only $1506.91.”

(C.)“Right, I need them now!”

(P.) “No problem. they aren't doing anything but standing around discussing which performance drinks teachers like best.”


--END OF PHONE CALL----

Bolyn McClung
CMSdollars.com
Pineville

Anonymous said...

Who: Baltimore County Public Schools will host its annual Teacher Expo & Job Fair to recruit teachers interested in working in one of the nation's largest and most progressive and prestigious school systems. Unlike other school systems nationally that have reduced positions due to the economy, BCPS this year expects to hire between 600 and 700 new educators when the 2010-11 school year opens in August. Admission to the event is free, and there is no advance registration. Teachers are encouraged to bring copies of their resum├ęs.

Anonymous said...

Be careful teachers. CMS' multi-million dollar "communication" department is probably monitoring these posts. You'll be sorry.

Anonymous said...

Central Office did act as subs when Dr, Smith was here. The principal at Quail Hollow Middle School noticed a class without a teacher, and was told that the sub was taking her lunch hour at
Quail Corners and had not returned as her hour was not over yet. However now that we will have fast food at Quail Corners, perhaps the subs can return more quickly.

therestofthestory said...

Bolyn, outstanding!

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher (not in CMS) and I love this idea. I subbed for a year before I committed to teaching - something I think every future teacher should do! When I taught at a private school, it was all hands on deck for subbing - no one was exempt. Subs were not in the budget so everyone pitched in as necessary - director, headmaster, secretaries - everyone. It was also required that administrators always teach one class for the year so that they do not lose sight of the realities of the classroom. Imagine if our school board, Central Office staff, etc. actually had a clue about what happens in today's classrooms!

Anonymous said...

The Athletic Directors should be the SUB. They are only teaching one or two classes per day. How can we justify paying them a salary and supplement for having 25 hours per week of planning time?

Anonymous said...

Brilliant idea. I don't see central office staff in the schools much at all and when we do, we're under strict instructions to put our best foot forward. One day this year, specials were cancelled at my school and those teachers doubled up in classrooms that were to attend a program that MIGHT be attended by a central office staff person. They wanted to make sure our students were on their best behavior. No CO staff member showed up and the teachers were frustrated with the decision to hide what is our everyday reality. I think that four days in a classroom is all it would take to help some of them realize the challenges and limitations teachers face every day.

CMS_Elem_Teacher said...

I think it depends on your definition of "central office." The people who run the department for my curriculum are generally very supportive and responsive. Almost all of them were teachers for quite a while before they moved "up". They are there to support teachers and to make sure all the paperwork, gets done, because a lot of it is required by state or federal entities. Necessary evils. My department also arranges a lot of professional development opportunities, makes sure we have ample access to materials and technology, etc.

Central admin departments like Accountability do not project a similar kind of empathy and understanding. Honestly I don't think I would want them near my students because I don't think teaching is what they are/were good at. Usually when someone from "downtown" or the area office is in the school, it is not seen as a positive thing. There are often there to criticize or have some other "gotcha". So in that respect I would also not like them in my classroom, because they don't understand the day-to-day workings of the classroom (elementary level).

Anonymous said...

I don't think that all Central office staff are not helpful or aren't busy. But I do think this would go a long way to projecting the idea that we are all in this together. Even some folks who are supportive tend to lose touch with the realities that school-based folks deal with. And it would save money.

Anonymous said...

The only time we see downtown abministative staff in our school is if money is being donated and there are cameras. This is the truth! Why is Ms. Henry out right lying for CMS administrators?!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree, Ms. Henry is either delusional about what is happening at the schools or she is out right lying. Central staff only pops in and pops out, they certainly do not hang around and volunteer and make their presence felt in a meaningful and/or productive way.

Anonymous said...

My father is a retired public school superintendent who started his career as a high school English teacher. He worked for small school districts only.

Growing up, EVERY student knew and could identify my father on any given day in any school building along with teachers, principals and most parents - not always fun on my end especially the day my father personally suspended me for skipping class. My father also suspended my Ivy League educated brother as well once for flipping his middle finger at our high school band teacher.

Granted, my father never taught any classes after he moved up the educational ladder into administrative positions. However, I think it would make an interesting experiment to see how many CMS students could identify some of CMS's top brass if they unexpectedly walked unannounced into a school building one day?

One would have to assume most students would easily be able to identify CMS's top brass based on Latarza's official statement. Correct?

I like the sub idea.

Anonymous said...

Here we go...

How about a pictured "Name that Top Brass Official" pay-for-performance test?

CMS's TOP 10. Starting with Peter Gorman.

District 6 has had 4 school board reps. since 2005 so I'm willing to let this bunch off the hook. Just the full-time salaried folks will do.

Anonymous said...

The latest "support" we had at my school from the central office involved keeping a pair of chairs from floating away. Why on earth they needed two people there to watch us in a committee meeting, I'll never know. Especially since they just walked in, sat down, and didn't even intoduce themselves. I even doubt that my principal got any feedback from them.

But those two chairs sure didn't float away.

Anonymous said...

Dear "Well, I am not a teacher, but I do work in the Central Office",

But you sure get paid for all twelve months don't you. And you can take whatever days off as vaction or whathaveyou when you need them can't you. And I bet you get paid a whole lot more than the average teacher.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:35 - please go back to licking envelopes and making coffee. Next time you get the urge to show us how you think, please don't. You are as out of touch as everyone else in the CO. (stands for either Central Office or Charlotte Observer, take your pick)

Anonymous said...

The sad thing is, Central Office doesn't need to be all about "Gotcha" and maintaining order through fear. Union County manages to have its schools run by professionals who respect and are respect by their teachers and principals.
It might have to do with the fact that while Dr. G sees his mandate as changing the teaching staff as much as possible (the economy is a blessing to him), Union County has done everything it can to spare the classroom from cuts.
However the fact that Union County also trusts its principals to run their schools without micro-managing and minions of Gotcha-dom, probably plays a role as well.

Anonymous said...

Central Office staff as subs? Maybe. Legislators and other elected officials responsible for allocating funds to schools? Cynics that comment on this forum? Parents unwilling to hold their own children accountable for their actions? Absolutely. Most voting citizens have little understanding of the day-to-day challenges of life in a classroom and it would help if that changed.

Anonymous said...

I'm in CMS central office and I would have no problem subbing at a school 4 days a year if it would help. The problem with this is I'm not the problem - if you know what I mean.

Allie/HHS '10 said...

In response to Micaela, May 6 @ 2:35: I apologize if someone else has already mentioned this, but I just wanted to point out that in all reality, Central Office staffers probably have more classroom experience than half the substitutes hired on a daily basis. Last I checked (January-February time), as long as a potential sub had a high school diploma and passed a background check they were allowed into the system. As a 2010 graduate of CMS, where I spent my entire K-12 career, I have come into contact with a ridiculous amount of substitutes with absolutely no business being in a classroom. I have witnessed drunked/hungover subs removed by resource officers, power-hungry subs get into screaming matches with students over simple questions, substitutes sleeping at the teacher's desk, and the ever common subs who just sit at a desk and "supervise: card games/movies/etc and let the students handle the wrath of work not finished when their teacher returned.The best subs? Those with ties to the school and/or classroom experience. When I have children of my own in the future, I would love to see these staffers who are actually in touch somewhat with the schools supervise them, rather than any person who can wander in off the street.