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Patrick Henry High School students left without pre-calculus teacher

Amid major substitute teacher shortage at SDUSD
Patrick Henry HS students left to self-teach precalculus.png
Posted at 4:35 PM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 21:24:00-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - There are reports of several dozen students at Patrick Henry High School being left in the cafeteria to seemingly teach themselves complex math. This, after San Diego Unified School District officials, admitted it has a serious substitute teacher shortage.

"Pre-calculus is not self-explanatory," Patrick Henry High School parent Suzy Weiss said.

Weiss has an 11th grader son taking a pre-calculus class at Patrick Henry High School. She herself is an alumnus, and has fond memories there. But now, she is upset, after her son's class was left to seemingly teach themselves the complex subject in the cafeteria.

"The substitute, or the visiting teacher, is not a math teacher. He is not collecting any homework assigned. He's not doing any instruction," Weiss said.

According to Weiss, the pre-calculus teacher is on a one-month paternity leave. Unlike a sudden COVID quarantine, school administrators likely knew about this extended leave. So she wonders, why is her son's class left without a quality math teacher?

ABC 10News reached out to the district. It said in a statement:

"The permanent math teacher is on leave and left detailed lesson plans for students to work on during this absence. Professional educators in other subjects are working with students on these lesson plans."
San Diego Unified School District

A district spokeswoman clarified that the PHHS cafeteria is home to the school's Learning Lab, and the students are being taught by a visiting teacher, and are not left alone.

But Weiss said the "detailed lesson plans" only included reading material from a textbook and a few homework problems. There were no actual lessons included in the single-page flyer taped on her son's classroom door.

Weiss said she had to unlock her memory bank from 20 years ago, when she was a math tutor, to essentially become her son's new teacher.

"It's not my preference to spend ten hours a week on pre-calculus, but I will do whatever it takes to help my kid," Weiss said.

Weiss said she even suggested that the other pre-calculus teacher stream his lessons to her son's class. But she was told by school officials that it violates the union's contract.

"Change some protocols so that we can fix this problem," Weiss demanded.

In the statement, the district stated the root of the problem lies in the substitute teacher shortage, saying:

"Unfortunately, no substitute math teachers are available at this time, due to the statewide substitute shortage. We continue to recruit substitute teachers, as well as permanent teachers in hard-to-staff subjects like mathematics. We have offered hiring bonuses and other incentives to continue attracting the best teachers in the state. In the meantime, these parents and students have made some reasonable suggestions, which we continue to explore, and we appreciate their collaboration, as we work to resolve this issue in the best interest of all students."
San Diego Unified School District