DC substitute teachers hold 'Day of Absence' to rally for better pay, benefits

Substitute teachers in D.C. held a "Day of Absence" on Monday, rallying in front of the Wilson Building to demand better pay, benefits and more.

Download the FOX 5 DC News App for Local Breaking News and Weather

Participating teachers say they plan on gathering outside the Wilson Building, where the D.C. Council meets, every Monday morning to have their demands heard.

Myrtle Washington of the Washington Substitute Teachers United says they're asking for many things with one main goal.

"We believe if we had DCPS' respect, we wouldn't have to be out here," she says. 

READ MORE: More than a dozen DC public schools shift to virtual learning due to COVID-19

Washington says many substitute teachers for DCPS have master's and doctorate degrees and believe they deserve a pay raise equivalent to a professional salary.

"We would like benefits including healthcare, sick leave and retirement," Washington says.

Long-term retired teachers in D.C. make $300 a day while substitute teachers make $120 a day. COVID-19 has created more demanding work conditions with increased staffing shortages and Washington says they bring invaluable experience to the classroom.


"I am a lawyer by training and I bring the experiences associated with that degree into my classroom," she says, "and it's not to down those retirees. We certainly are not in a fight with them because we're in a fight with DCPS. So, $300 a day is great, but we do the same work."