Jan 24, 2022 - News

"We were really insulted": DCPS subs say pay increase is not enough

A demonstrator holds a sign that calls for more pay for substitute teachers in D.C.

Photo: Erin Doherty/Axios

Substitute teachers in the Washington, D.C. public school system protested on Monday a pay increase that Mayor Muriel Bowser announced last week, calling it insufficient.

Why it matters: The dozen or so protesters said that the $2 hourly wage increase, which was intended to attract more substitute teachers, falls short, Axios’ Erin Doherty writes.

Driving the news: "It felt like we were disrespected, and then they showed us that we really were not appreciated it," Lydia Curtis, who has been a substitute teacher for four years, said outside the Wilson Building, the center of D.C. government.

  • Bowser and D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee last week raised the pay for daily substitute teachers serving less than 30 days in a school year from $15.20 to $17 an hour.
  • The protesters, carrying signs that read, "$2 increase?!? Insulting," among other phrases, are also asking the city for better benefits, including health insurance and legal protection.
  • "The system as a whole is set up to be very disrespectful to substitute teachers," Curtis said.

The big picture: The pressure from substitute teachers to raise their wages comes as the school district faces staffing shortages due to COVID-19 and a waning substitute teacher pool.

  • DCPS experienced a 22% decrease in substitute teachers from the 2019-2020 school year to this school year, Axios' Paige Hopkins reports.
  • Substitute teachers on Jan. 10 held a "Day of Absence" to demand higher pay and better benefits.

The mayor's office did not immediately return a request for comment.

What to watch: D.C. substitute teachers and the Washington Teachers' Union have a joint rally planned for Feb. 7 to push for higher wages.

Go deeper: D.C.-area schools face sub shortage


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