Substitute Shortages Come to West


Mason Hagarty

West Principal Mr. Rich Mertens serving as a substitute teacher for a band class in January

Jack Stokes, Editorial Writer

Recently, there has been a terrible substitute teacher shortage across the United States. Without the extra help, teachers lose planning periods, janitors have to watch over classes, and in extreme cases, principals or even superintendents must sub just to sub. It didn’t use to be this way. We used to have the friendly regular subs, the familiar faces, the people we could always count on. But now we see teachers watching over classes and losing planning and lunch time, which negatively affects their own classes and productivity. What happened?

According to EdWeek, substitute teachers have been in short supply in many school districts for several years now. However, recently, the shortage has been dire. “To fill the gaps, schools are tapping other staff members to cover classes, relaxing their requirements to substitute, and using their COVID-19 relief money to increase pay for subs. But even with these efforts, some districts have still had to cancel classes or even shut down schools due to the substitute shortage.” No school district, teacher, or even most students want this. It isn’t ideal for anyone, and it only creates chaos and stress. 

Belleville West is no exception to the sub shortage. English teacher Julie Schloesser said that for Belleville West as a whole, “It’s an added stress for being extra busy. Teachers are already subbing over their lunch period or their prep. There’s less time to get our own stuff done.” 

“From the kids’ perspective, the problem is they’re seeing a lot of different faces in classrooms and possibly not getting as much learning accomplished if they had their regular teachers with them,” she said.

When asked how the shortage has affected her personally, she said, “It makes me feel even crazier than usual. I don’t mind doing it, especially for people in my own department, but it makes for a hectic day. We teach for five hours, and we have an hour and a half that’s for lunch and prep, but even that’s not enough time to get your stuff done. So when you’re subbing for somebody during what is supposed to be your off time, it basically means that things, like grading essays, have to happen in my personal time, which is not ideal.”

Ms. Schloesser admits that even though we have problems here in Belleville, it isn’t nearly as bad when compared to other cities. For example, in Nashville, Tennessee, a local school district emailed parents asking them to apply for a subbing position. In New Mexico, the National Guard was called in to fill in as substitute teachers. 

Substitute teachers are a vital part of our schooling system. They provide help when our regular, scheduled teachers cannot come to work that day. But when they are unavailable, the whole system falls apart. This is what we’re seeing today, and there’s no end in sight.