We've all heard the stories about how Obamacare has impacted small businesses, cutting back worker's hours, reducing staff, or not growing. There is, however, another type of job that has been devastated by Obamacare regulations, the substitute teacher.
Grace is a 67 year old retired teacher who loves children and wanted to continue teach even after her retirement, but she didn't want the stress of working as a full time teacher. She also found herself, recently widowed, with a desperate need to supplement her retirement income. Substitute teaching was the perfect job for her. Over the past few years, she has been able to work a steady 35-40 hours per week as a substitute teacher and has loved every minute of it.
Anna is a "No Child Left Behind Highly Qualified Teacher" with a wall of diplomas and an even more impressive musical resume. She left teaching public schools due to the bureaucracy, but found that, because all of her private students needed evening lessons, she had to fill her day. She has been able to work as a substitute music teacher at the same district as Grace, filling up over 40 hours per week to help supplement her income from the limited hours she can work teaching private lessons in the evening.
Both Grace and Anna had the same shock last week when they logged into the AESOP substitute system to see what hours were available to teach and to register for the spots needed. They both saw that after working four days last week, the system was not offering any more time for either of them for the rest of the month. They have been hit by a loophole in the Obamacare system for part-time workers. In order to determine if an employee is full time or part time, Obamacare requires a 'look-back' point to all of 2013 to average out the numbers of hours an employee worked. Because Grace and Anna both were working, what was essentially full time over the spring and into the current semester, the AESOP system has blocked any additional hours available to these teachers in order to reduce their average to under 30 hours. This will result in most likely no available teaching hours until after the first of the year.
Grace does not know how she will pay her bills and is frightened. She did support President Obama but now, has realized what a mistake that was. She said she was told he would help teachers and students, but all she sees is him helping big insurance companies. Anna is lucky in a financial sense, her studio can help supplement her household income and her husband earns enough for them to get by.
According to an administrator in the school district, this has impacted almost all their substitutes. Many substitutes have worked for the district for years and now, none are legally available unless the district budgets offering health-care. This is something districts both can't afford, but won't be able to budget until the 2014 fiscal cycle as this year's budget was determined last January.
The impact to the children is just as bad. Instead of having a substitute continue the lesson plans of the teacher who was out, they have had to sit and wait in the gym or double up with another teacher, thus increasing the student-teacher ratio well beyond the NCLB guidelines. This is putting stress on the teacher who suddenly has 40 children in her classroom with no help (teaching assistants have also been cut back). Education has come to a halt as the teacher's entire time is managing the increased number of students in her classroom.
There is no hope in sight and as of now, there is no recourse that these school districts have. This is only the second week.
(note, the names have been changed but the stories are 100% factual).