Connecticut Law Scraps College Requirement for Substitute Teachers

Posted by Melanie Breault

The standards for substitute teachers in Connecticut are changing and some worry it could impact the children who need the attention most. As of July 1st, substitute teachers no longer need a bachelor’s degree to be hired in Connecticut.

The new legislation restores the education commissioner’s authority to waive the bachelor degree requirement for good cause at the request of a school superintendent. Nancy Pugliese, Chief Bureau of Educator Standards and Certification at the Connecticut State Department of Education, said the law applies to short-term substitute positions less than 40 days.

Pugliese also said the legislation passed for individuals who do not hold a teaching certificate or bachelor’s degree; meaning individuals who hold a teaching certificate are eligible to take over a classroom at any time.

Before the legislation was eliminated in 2009, Pugliese said the education commissioner received more than 1,200 waivers from school superintendents across the state.

“It was harder in different parts of the state for superintendents to find substitutes, particularly in the Northeast corner,” she said.

Segun Eubanks, Director of Teacher Quality for the National Education Association argued there is no shortage of fully licensed and capable people in Connecticut for substitute positions. He said the problem is compensation and working conditions.

“There’s only a shortage of people in Connecticut willing to work for the wages and the working conditions that substitute teachers are asked to work under,” he said.

The Department of Education is located in the State Office Building at 165 Capital Ave in Hartford, CT.

According to – one of the largest job posting sites in the country – average salaries for posted substitute teacher jobs are 60 percent lower than average salaries for all job postings nationwide. As of Aug. 9, the average substitute teacher salary in the U.S. is $29,000 according to the site. In Connecticut, the average salary is $31,000— 6 percent higher than the posted national average for substitute positions.

Michael Kane has been a substitute teaching for almost five years in the Colchester school district. Making $70 to $85 a day, depending on the job, Kane said the pay is fair, but is still not enough to support him.

“I had some very rough days on the job when I may have wished I was getting paid a bit more, but I also had days when I felt like I was stealing money,” he said. “I guess it averaged out.”

Kane started subbing in Jan. 2007 while obtaining his bachelor’s degree at Hofstra University. Since Kane did need a waiver to begin substitute teaching, he said he is glad the state decided to reintroduce the waivers into the hiring process.

“There are plenty of young and enthusiastic people, many of whom are inspiring educators, who should be eligible for hiring, despite not having a four-year degree,” he said.

While there are some promising situations, as in the case with Kane, Segun Eubanks said hiring substitutes without at least a bachelor’s degree or teaching certification are putting schools in disadvantageous positions.

“People who are going through preparations are still learning, so if they are in classrooms three or four days at a time, I would argue that the students in that classroom aren’t going to learn as much as they would with someone who’s had a lot more experience and skills,” he said.

Pugliese said the education committee was initially concerned about lowering the standard due to the achievement gap and test scores. According to the recent results of the Connecticut Mastery Test, scores show a positive trend in student achievement, but there is need for improvement across the board.

Special attention needs to go to areas such as Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven, which Eubanks argued would be more negatively affected by the lowered standard than Connecticut’s more affluent communities. He also said students are spending a significant amount of hours and days in the classroom with substitute teachers, especially in the tougher districts.

“At a time when we are really expecting high standards, we’re taking two, three, four, ten days of learning away from students in a 180-day period,” he said. “We won’t be surprised when they can’t reach those high standards.”

Related posts:

  1. CT Teachers Accused of Cheating;Tough Punishment Sought
  2. Conn. Mulls Seeking Waiver to ‘No Child’ Law

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Posted by Melanie Breault on Aug 17 2011. Filed under Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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