Substitute teachers in D.C. will push for higher pay at a rally Monday, saying they play a critical role in schools and fill the void when a teacher can’t be there, particularly during the pandemic.
The rally is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. outside the Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
Myrtle Washington, head of Washington Substitute Teachers United, has been substitute teaching for eight years. She’s in the classroom four days a week.
“I really am dedicated to my school, my children, and I want to continue. But I am an activist and I know a good fight when I see it,” she said.
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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser recently announced a roughly $2 an hour increase for daily substitute teachers. They’re going from $15.20 to $17 an hour.
“That’s not fair. I mean, it’s a slap in the face actually, and I’m wondering, why are they doing this to us?” Washington said.
She said substitutes haven’t gotten a raise since 2008, and thinks they should earn $300 a day.
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Now they’re getting new support from the Washington Teachers Union at a rally planned for Monday afternoon.
A union statement reads in part:
“Substitute teachers are taken for granted and not paid a decent wage. Substitute teachers are always needed, but there is a greater need this school year because many teachers are out because of COVID-19.”
Evan Yeats, who has three children in D.C. schools, supports substitutes getting more money and benefits.
He said teachers and substitutes are educating children in the classroom throughout the pandemic, and studies show many are burned out.
“That they’re still only making $15 an hour after all this time is so ludicrous,” Yeats said. “It’s been a very long time since they’ve had a raise, and then finally when it comes up… and they go to $17 an hour – it’s not nearly enough.”
On Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser is set to announced what her office called "historic investments" in public schools. More details were not immediately available.
News4 has reached out to D.C. Public Schools and Bowser for comment.