Though teachers bear one of the most important responsibilities in our society (educating our children), we continue to undervalue their time and effort in shameful ways.
For instance, at a school in California, one teacher has been diagnosed with breast cancer. As if this news wasn't hard enough on its own, she was then informed that, as per California law, she was responsible for paying for the substitute teacher filling in in her absence.
The unnamed teacher works at Glen Park Elementary School in the San Francisco United School District.
The school follows a 1976 state education law which allots each teacher 10 sick days for year.
100 additional days can be made available...if the price of a substitute teacher is deducted from the teacher's pay.
@NBCNews This is outrageous!!— Ed (@Ed) 1557460505.0
San Francisco United School District spokeswoman Laura Dudnick said in a statement:
"This reflects California Education Code language related to extended sick leave that applies to all other school districts in California. This is not unique to San Francisco. This is not a district-only rule."
@NBCNews What kind of inhuman law this school have? They treat their teachers as if they are robots! The teacher, w… https://t.co/plTG2UKnru— bilal ahmad (@bilal ahmad) 1557445100.0
CNN reports that the average daily cost of a substitute teacher in San Francisco is $203.16, whereas the average annual salary of a teacher (excluding benefits) is only $82,024.37.
@NBCNews She might also have to worry about keeping her insurance, if she’s missing that much time.— Stephanie Frost (@Stephanie Frost) 1557455089.0
When forced to miss more than their 10 allotted days, teachers can also draw upon their local Sick Leave Bank without taking any money from their paycheck.
Teachers who don't use all of their sick days can donate as many as they like to the bank to be used by other teachers who really need them.
@NBCNews Our district has a pool where others can donate days if they choose to help other teachers with more serio… https://t.co/fbHyElvIyo— BB (@BB) 1557439347.0
While this practice shows off the kind-heartedness of the teachers, many feel it shouldn't be necessary, and that teachers' sick leave should be extended indefinitely based on the nature of their illness.
@NBCNews This is sickening. I can’t believe in this day and age this sort of thing is happening @robdelaney— Chico Rodrigues (@Chico Rodrigues) 1557445740.0
Parent Elia Hernandez spoke to CNN affiliate KGO about the teacher having to pay for her own substitute:
"She's an incredible teacher and that's not fair. That's crazy!"
@NBCNews The American education system at its finest. -_-— Jennifer W. (@Jennifer W.) 1557435065.0
Susan Solomon, President of United Educators of San Francisco, is hoping the union may be able to negotiate better sick leave agreements in the coming year:
"The issues involving teachers' use of extended sick leave and the catastrophic sick leave bank, as well as the school district's use of a daily substitute dock rate, are governed by law and the collective bargaining agreement.
UESF is consulting with our members on their priorities for contract negotiations next year. As always, we look forward to making improvements in this and other parts of the contract."
@NBCNews How horrible is this...not only are you fearful of the disease ..you have to be fearful of taking the time… https://t.co/lvQJivAU3X— Karin Del Rosario (@Karin Del Rosario) 1557434967.0
The internet is absolutely outraged at the teacher's situation:
@CNN I’m a speech pathologist in California. I paid for a sub all three times I was on maternity leave and I didnt… https://t.co/7JMX6gS1Wk— kara (@kara) 1557453810.0
@CNN WTF?!! https://t.co/3I6V0nSd3Y— Simon Appleton (@Simon Appleton) 1557439898.0
@AFP Wait, what? https://t.co/5Q94dPOKEn— Pullout Master 💦👩 (@Pullout Master 💦👩) 1557501965.0
@AFP Is it her fault to be sick? Does the school found any evidence to disprove her claim of sickness? Of the schoo… https://t.co/bLZlzon6rI— The Reverend (@The Reverend) 1557492088.0
A now-deleted GoFundMe page raised $13,000 for the teacher in hopes of offsetting the cost of the substitute. Though that money will doubtless help, the most helpful thing would be fairer laws that protect our teachers.