A group of substitute teachers takes part in “A Day of Absence,” a demonstration calling for higher wages and benefits for substitutes, in front of the John A. Wilson Building in D.C. on Jan. 10. 

This post was originally published on The Washington Informer

By Sam P. K. Collins

Even as they demanded a benefits package, legal protections and pay comparable to full-time teachers, hundreds of substitute teachers continued to work — and risk their health — at several D.C. public schools this academic year amid staffing shortages and COVID-19-induced closures.  

Now, as D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) prepares to pull veteran teachers out of retirement to serve as substitutes at a substantially higher rate, a group of substitute teachers has taken their fight to city hall. 

“Starting at $15 per hour is way too low, and we don’t even get a gradual salary increase [as] government employees,” said a substitute teacher and participant in “A Day of Absence” protest on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building on Monday, Jan. 10.  

The teacher, who requested anonymity, counted among dozens who converged in front of the building for several hours, holding signs, belting chants, and making known their cause. They expressed plans to hold similar protests every Monday from here on until DCPS and city officials meet their demands. 

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