A common complaint from school administrators, whether it be principals, assistant principals, or superintendents, is that substitute teachers are hard to find for tough, “under-resourced,” or “under-performing” schools. But the silver bullet was simple: Add a stipend to incentivize substitute teachers to take the substitute assignments.
The 74 Million reported that pre-pandemic, “nearly 600,000 substitute teachers covered more than 30 million teacher absences a year — a larger share of the labor market than taxi, Uber and Lyft drivers combined.” Post-pandemic, due to the culture wars and pandemic, there are fewer substitute teachers available for assignments. One estimate was that “one out of every five requests for substitutes” were not filled before the pandemic, which left many classrooms unstaffed.
After the pandemic, it is a different story. Schools cannot find enough substitutes to cover absences due to more competition for the current substitute teaching pool.
In Chicago, Illinois, the Chicago Public Schools offered a $40 stipend on top of the daily rate of $165 for substitute assignments in tougher schools. The experiment resulted in almost a 50% increase in substitute assignments being filled. It is significant because black students in these schools tend to have classrooms where no substitute is present at a higher rate than white students.
There are complaints about how to balance a public school system’s budget with raising substitute teacher daily rates, but if there is a will, there is a way. Considering that education bureaucrats make significant salaries, such as some principals and administrators making six-figures in income, there are ways to accommodate pay raises for substitute teachers without breaking the budget.