Substitute teachers in D.C. Public Schools are pushing for higher daily pay and benefits.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a modest pay boost for substitute teachers on Tuesday, a gesture that some educators and community members quickly dismissed as not enough.
Many substitute teachers in D.C. Public Schools will start earning $136 a day, which is about a $15 increase from their current daily pay, Bowser said in a news release.
"As we work together to maximize opportunities for in-person learning, we know the critical role substitutes play in supporting both students and teachers," Bowser said. "With this increase in pay, we're focused on bolstering supports for schools."
The increase falls short of the $300 a day a group of substitute teachers have demanded the city pay them in recent weeks. The group, Washington Substitute Teachers United, has encouraged the school system's more than 550 substitute teachers to skip work one day a week until city officials agree to boost their pay.
Myrtle Washington, the organization's president, said she feels Bowser is not listening to substitute teachers.
"We are just outraged, insulted, incensed," she said. "We feel like we've been dismissed."
She said substitute teachers will continue to rally outside the mayor's office every Monday for higher pay. The group held its first rally earlier this month.
Substitute teachers have lobbied for a pay increase for several years, but the issue has generated more attention amid chronic teacher staffing challenges during the pandemic.
D.C. Public Schools in November began offering retired teachers up to $300 a day to return as long-term substitutes. Retirees are also eligible for a signing bonus.
Washington Substitute Teachers United have argued all teachers deserve to make the $300 daily rate.
Community members mocked Bowser's announcement of the pay increase for substitute teachers on social media, noting it amounts to just a little over the $16.10 an hour minimum wage that is scheduled to go into effect in the District later this year.
Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, the president of the Washington Teachers' Union, said substitute teachers deserve higher pay. The union does not represent substitute teachers but supports Washington Substitute Teachers United.
Lyons said substitute teachers have proven especially critical during the pandemic, stepping in for teachers infected with COVID-19.
"They're part of the school community," she said. "Subs come in and do the work that the permanent teacher can't do because of sickness or emergency."
Janeese Lewis George, a member of the D.C. Council who represents Ward 4, also said the pay increase is not enough. She said D.C. Public Schools should share more information about how it uses its $8 million budget for substitute teachers.
The Council is scheduled to hold a series of budget hearings in the spring to help determine how money should be spent in the District's next budget.
"We need more information on how those funds are used and whether the overall budget should be expanded," Lewis George said.
This story is from DCist.com, the local news site of WAMU.