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Medford, N.J. School District charging student teachers to work for free

medfordwelcome041911_optBY PAM LOBLEY
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
NOW THAT’S FUNNY

The Medford School District in south New Jersey wants to charge student teachers to work in their schools.

I’m confused. Aren’t these student teachers already working for free? Isn’t this training part of their degree, for which they have already paid a university through their tuition?

Normally, a university sends a student teacher to a district as part of their course work, and the school is happy to have that student teacher for free. Presumably, a student teacher can be a great help in a classroom, which could be a boon to stressed schools everywhere. Now, Medford wants to charge $1,200 for in-state students and $1,500 for out-of-state students for the unique privilege of training in their district. The universities have flatly refused to pay that, and have said they will simply send their students to other districts for their training. Then Medford generously offered that if the student wished to come to Medford for their student teacher experience, the student could pay the money out of their own pocket! Wasn’t that nice of Medford?

Medford is having a lot of financial problems. They haven’t passed a budget in two years, they’ve lost millions in state aid, and they have been doing everything they can to make ends meet. They are trying to sell ads on their website, their buses, and they’re offering naming and sponsoring rights. They are desperate.

Get in line. We’re all desperate. What’s next? Charging employees to work for you? How about when you get a job, your first month’s salary goes right back to the boss? Maybe you could just kick back 10 percent to your employer for the first year you work there, with diminishing percentages as the years go on. That seems like a small price to pay for the honor of having a job. It reminds me of the email that Arianna Huffington sent to all the freelance writers at Huffington Post when she laid them off. She told them their services as paid freelancers would no longer be needed, but if they wanted to remain and blog for free, they would be most welcome in the HuffPost family. I’ll just bet they would.

I realize Medford is just trying to be creative, but they are creating a lot of bitterness, and it’s not helping their cause. In fact, they may end up worse than before – with no student teachers at all. Last year they had 30 student teachers in their district. They have zero signed up so far for next year.

Pam Lobley writes the “Now That’s Funny” column. Sign up for her mailing list at www.pamlobley.com.

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