We have a sub! Or do we?

Contributing factors to the growing substitute shortage.


Nathaniel Seaman

An empty room

Connor Nealis

Picture this: a student walks into class expecting another grueling 45 minutes of classroom instruction. He enters the room without being greeted by his normal teacher; confused, the student asks his friends where the teacher went. Their response is a gleeful “we have a sub!” The student’s face brightens, knowing they’ll be able to relax. This reaction is not singular to any grade or school: it is a reaction that most students experience.

However, disrespect is just one small factor contributing to the growing sub shortage in MCPS. Ms. Juliette Adams, an MCPS substitute teacher, believes this ongoing issue stems from a larger “contentment with the current failing system.”

To some subs with multiple occupations, the ability to be supplied an income without the responsibility of having a fixed schedule is a blessing. Yet this comes at a cost as substitute teachers are given a significant decrease in salary versus what full-time teachers are given, a fact recognized by MCPS. In January of this year, the hourly wage for short and long-term substitute teachers saw an increase from 7.3 percent and 8 percent, while non-certified teachers saw an increase from five to six percent, respectively, according to an article posted by the MCPS Bulletin in January of this year.

Yet, according to those like Adams, this isn’t enough, and based on recent MCPS data, this holds true. According to Bethesda Magazine, “In May, an average of 53% of substitute requests went unfilled each day… May 12 and May 20 tied for the highest rate at 59%…” this was data provided to Bethesda Beat by MCPS. Adams believes that the greatest way to increase the amount of substitute teachers is not by reducing the requirements to become a substitute, as MCPS did when they reduced substitute teaching requirements from a Bachelor’s to an Associate’s degree or 60 college credits, but by increasing the pay once again. This remains to be seen.

Adams believes that we need more concern for not just substitute teachers’ needs, but teachers as well, stating that “the only way to get to the point where pay rates are increased, is if the students and parents command more respect for teachers, including administration.”