Anyone who makes such a suggestion can certainly join the wave of anger. The Green Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretschmann, recently said in a panel discussion that part-time faculty may have to be restricted.
In any case, the state is currently studying whether the minimum hours for civil servants can be increased, explained Kretschmann, who was previously a biology, chemistry and ethics teacher. And he went even better: “In this particular case,” he advises everyone, including union officials, not to pronounce “usual Latin.”
In any case, the reaction of trade unions and teachers’ associations was as expected. “Totally wrong,” GEW commented. Their state president, Monica Stein, noted that during his eleven years as prime minister, there had been a “tremendous shortage of teachers”. More work for exhausted teachers two years into the pandemic? This is not how you win professionals, this is how you lose them.
Indeed? Arithmetic experience: In 2020, about 702 thousand full-time teachers were employed in general education schools in Germany, 40 percent of them (279 thousand) were part-time. it’s huge. The hour-long overtime for all part-time teachers, which Kretschmann specifically mentioned, means more than 7,000 additional teaching jobs.
The supply shortage becomes even more dramatic with refugee students
The result: slightly less management of the shortage, and a fairer distribution of the enormous burden caused by the blatant shortage of teachers in schools. The lack of supply became even more dramatic with the influx of students who fled Ukraine. This is the “special situation” alluded to by Kretschmann.
But of course the prime minister’s proposal is very simple. The deficiency is not the same across subjects and types of schools. According to the calculations of educational researcher Klaus Klemm, there is likely to be an oversupply of teachers in grammar schools, but the shortage is especially evident in primary schools and all other types of secondary schools, especially in MINT subjects. In addition, up to 7,000 additional teaching positions will be only eleventh of what CLIM represents in terms of unmet staffing needs by 2030.
Bavaria’s Education Minister Michael Piazzolo (Free Voters) has ordered similar things for teachers in primary, secondary and private schools since 2020 – and has also met with fierce union protests.
Exceptions for teachers who take care of young children or relatives
Nevertheless, Kretschmann’s idea points in the right direction. If Berlin, the last federal state, returns to civil service teaching, the whole of Germany can and should also take advantage of the special labor law status of civil service teachers. As long as they do not have underage children or have to take care of relatives, they are likely to be refused any part-time work citing compelling official reasons.
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And what if the fight against the mass abolition of specialized classes is not, are there official compelling reasons, please? Children and young people whose educational life and future are left behind because there are not enough teachers to take care of them when they encounter learning difficulties – at a time, depending on the subject and situation, even the number of side enrollees is no longer enough to fill all the positions?
Education ministers must be brave and transparently define a law on shortage issues, in which the following applies: Part-time work that is not related to family, care or health is generally denied. And whoever obtains permission to work part-time must see Kretschmann adjust to a higher minimum number of hours. But only in subjects where and as long as the emergency requires it.
More fairness – also for long-term full-time employees
Both together would have a big – and targeted! Impact on the provision of teaching. And it will lead not less, but more justice: not only for students, but also for teachers, who previously had to put up with the most time.
The argument that imperfection is self-made through poor planning in education policy is partially correct. Not everything, like the current wave of refugees, was so predictable. A lot especially demographic development but yes. Using this as an excuse to deal with an emergency is still cheap and lacks solidarity with students.
However, Prime Ministers like Kretschmann and their Education Ministers will have credibility only if, in parallel with this courageous emergency measure, they also courageously shape the future of the teaching profession: through more flexible studies. By permanently increasing the number of appointees, even if the shortage of teachers decreases from time to time. And through the long-awaited supply of additional management and technology personnel for schools. It is possible to ask for more teachers who use crisis speech. If the education policy itself is willing to do more.