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Monday, October 16, 2006

Matters of Compelling Importance...

The automated substitute calling system is a great tool for any school district that can afford one. The sub can set a “not available” date range to tell the system not to call for assignments. Likewise I can indicate certain days of the week I’m otherwise occupied.

The system accurately tracks which assignments are still open, which assignments were taken, which assignments were canceled by the school, and which assignments were declined by the substitute.

The last feature, declining an assignment, requires the substitute to provide a reason for turning down the assignment. The choice has to be selected from a carefully researched and significantly important list of district reasons for ducking an assignment.

Presumably the data is collected and carefully analyzed to determine trends or problems with the quality of the substitute labor pool or schools using the system. Presumably, reports of epidemic illness among substitutes could be quickly detected and a response team would be activated to deal with the crisis. Assignment turndowns for all assignments at a particular school just might indicate a problem that the district might want to investigate.

All in all, it’s a pretty neat tool if correctly used. So what am I supposed to make of the following list of “significantly important” reasons to decline an assignment from one of the districts I work?


Reason you are declining this assignment is…

Press 1 – Illness

Press 2 – Vacation

Press 3 – Jury Duty

Press 4 – Matters of Compelling Importance

Press 5 – Medical / Dental

Press 6 – Legal

Press 7 – Graduation

Press 8 – Paternity Leave

Press 9 – Maternity Leave

In the three years I’ve worked for this district, I’ve only used codes #1 and #4 when declining an assignment. The rest don’t apply to any real world statically useful purpose.

For example:


If I’m on vacation, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be around to answer the phone to decline the assignment and enter this code.

#3 & #6

Subs don’t get compensated for jury duty. Anyway wouldn’t “legal” include “jury duty”?

Also, if I’m going to be away for a sentence of 2 to 5, I’d use the “vacation” or “matter of compelling importance” reason.

#5 & #7

I have an important appointment. Medical, dental, legal, graduation, I wanna see my kid’s first soccer game. It’s all the same to the school district as to why I’m not available for the day. To me it’s all a “matter of compelling importance”.

#8 & #9

Oh, come on! Maternity OR Paternity leave? Isn’t this just splitting hairs just a bit TOO thin? We don’t get paid for either so I believe this should fall under #2 or #4


So what would I propose instead of the current “reason to decline” list? It would certainly contain some useful information that a school district might make use for one thing. As a first attempt, how about:


Reason I’m declining this assignment is…

Press 1 – Sick.

Translation: real or imagined illness, sports injury, one too many TSINGTAO’s last night, mental health day after yesterday’s disaster of a class.

Press 2 – No transportation.

Translation: School car is in need of repair again. Suggest I’ll work if you send a ride or pay me more so I can keep my car in good repair.

Press 3 – Not available.

Translation: Not sick and I don’t want to give you a specific reason.

Press 4 – Scheduling conflicts.

Translation: Medical, legal, parole officer or other appointments I need to keep.

Press 5 – Working in a better paying district today.

Translation: All else being equal, you guys are always going to be second choice.

Press 6 – Won’t work in that school again.

Translation: self explanatory. Call me if you want details.

Press 7 – Won’t work that particular class again.

Translation: self explanatory. Call me if you want details.

Press 8 – Won’t work for that teacher again.

Translation: self explanatory. Call me if you want details.

Press 9 – Personal business.

Translation: Matters of Compelling Importance



Fred said...

What a great list! I hope no one needs the parole officer option. That could be a problem.

Michelle said...

I love it! You should forward it (anonymously, of course) to the appropriate department. The feedback, could they bear to accept it, could be pretty valuable.