Anyone who makes such a suggestion can certainly join the wave of anger. Baden-Württemberg Green Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann recently said at a panel discussion that part-time teaching staff may need to be limited.
In any case, the state is currently considering whether the minimum working hours for civil servants can be increased, explained Kretschmann, who was once a civil servant teacher in biology, chemistry and ethics. And he went a better way: “In this particular situation” he advises everyone, including union officials, not to give up “ordinary Latin”.
Either way, the teachers’ unions and associations reacted as expected. “Totally wrong,” GEW commented. Their head of state Monica Stein noted that in Kretschmann’s eleven years as head of government, a “great shortage of teachers” had been created. “More work for exhausted teachers after two years of pandemic?” It does not win the professionals like that, but loses them.
Really? A computational experiment: In 2020, around 702,000 teachers were employed full-time in Germany’s general education schools, 40 percent of them (279,000) part-time. This is great. An extra hour of work for all part-time teachers, which Kretschmann specifically mentioned, would mean more than 7,000 additional teaching positions.
Undersupply becomes more dramatic with refugee students
The result: slightly less shortage management, a slightly fairer distribution of the heavy burden caused by the flagrant non-supply of schools with teachers. An absence that is becoming even more dramatic with the influx of students who have left Ukraine. This is the “special situation” that Kretschmann alluded to.
But of course the prime minister’s proposal is incredibly simple. The shortage is not the same for subjects and types of schools. According to the calculations of educational researcher Klaus Klemm, there is likely to be a surplus of teachers in upper secondary schools, but the shortage is particularly evident in primary schools and all other types of secondary schools, especially in MINT subjects. Moreover, another 7,000 additional teaching positions would be only one-eleventh of what Klemm has calculated in terms of unmet staffing needs by 2030.
Bavaria’s Minister of Education Michael Piazolo (Free Voters) had ordered similar things for teachers in primary, secondary and special schools since 2020 – and also met with fierce union protests.
Exceptions for teachers caring for young children or relatives
However, Kretschmann’s idea points in the right direction. If Berlin, the last federal state, returns to teaching civil servants, the whole of Germany can and should also take advantage of the special situation of the civil service teacher employment law. As long as they do not have minor children or have to care for relatives, they may most likely be denied permission for any part-time work for compulsory official reasons.
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And what if not the fight against the mass cancellation of specialist hours, is there a compelling official reason, please? Children and young people whose careers and educational futures are left behind because there are not enough teachers to care for them when they have learning difficulties – at a time when, depending on the subject and the situation, even the number of side entrances is no longer sufficient. to fill all positions?
Education ministers need to be bold and transparently define a canon of absenteeism, to which the following applies: Part-time work not related to family, care or health is generally rejected. And anyone who takes leave to work part-time must, see Kretschmann, adjust to a higher minimum number of hours. But only in subjects where and for as long as the emergency situation requires.
More justice – even for full-time long-term employees
The two together would have a great – and targeted! – The effect on teaching delivery. And it would not lead to less, but to more fairness: not only for students, but also for teachers, who previously had to hold on to most full-time.
The argument that the shortage is self-inflicted through poor planning in education policy is partly true. Not everything, as is the current wave of refugees, was and is predictable. Many, especially demographic development, but yes. Using this as an excuse to deal with the emergency situation is still cheap and lacks solidarity with students.
However, prime ministers like Kretschmann and their education ministers would only be credible if, in parallel with this bold emergency measure, they boldly shaped the future of the teaching profession: through more flexible studies. By permanently increasing the number of employees, even if the shortage of teachers decreases from time to time. And through the delayed supply of schools with additional staff for administration and technology. It is possible to demand more from pedagogues with crisis rhetoric. If education policy itself is willing to do more.