CA Teacher Battling Breast Cancer Has to Pay For Her Own Substitute

CA Teacher Battling Breast Cancer Has to Pay For Her Own Substitute
CA Teacher Battling Breast Cancer Has to Pay For Her Own Substitute

We may have just celebrated Teacher Appreciation Day, but a shocking revelation in California has left teachers everywhere feeling anything but appreciated. A teacher in San Francisco who is currently battling breast cancer has been paying for her own substitute as per California law. The second grade teacher at Glen Park Elementary School is the latest educator to fall victim to the state law and parents, fellow educators and others aren’t happy about it.

In California, teachers get 10 sick days per year and an additional 100 days of medical leave for serious illnesses. However, during those 100 days, their salary is deducted at close to $200 per day to cover the cost of their substitute while they’re gone. If a teacher exhausts those 100 days they go unpaid until they can return to work, unless they become part of the Catastrophic Sick Leave Bank. That’s a plan designed to allow teachers to donate their unused sick days so others can use them.

Donating sick leave days is a method teachers have had to resort to all over the country, including last month in Alabama. Teachers in Huntsville donated over 100 sick days to David Green, a football coach and history teacher at Mae Jemison High School. He had run out of sick days and was no longer able to be with his 1-year old daughter who was battling cancer in a hospital. It stands as yet another example of what teachers have to do to remain in the profession they love. 

The California law requiring teachers to fund their own substitutes has been on the books since the 1970s. Some say the most surprising part about the situation is that teachers aren’t even surprised by laws like this anymore, as if it’s just an expected part of their job.  Union officials say there isn’t much they can do to change it either.

“We’d love to change it but we’re working under a public school system that’s been financially on starvation.”

Eric Heins, President of the California Teachers Association

The GoFundMe page that was set up to help support the teacher raised over $13,000 but may have also helped in another, much larger way. The page generated buzz across the internet and once media outlets picked up on the story and started to shine a light on what was going on, lawmakers decided to review the statute to see if there was anything they could do.

“Candidly, I think the times have changed, and now it’s our job to change with the times.”

-California State Senator Connie Leyva (D)

It’s just one of many issues teachers in California have faced in recent years. Rising class sizes, stagnant salaries, and reduced per-student spending have led to a growing teacher shortage. Every year California hires 6-8,000 teachers without the proper credentials just to fill the vacancies state-wide.  Those issues and more are being addressed by Governor Gavin Newsom, who earlier this week unveiled his education budget. It includes spending $3-billion more on education than the previous year, which could lead to drastic improvements that teachers have been calling for, for years.

CA Teacher Battling Breast Cancer Has to Pay For Her Own Substitute

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David Rode

Dave is a middle school math teacher. He's also a musician, a community theater, dad to two amazing children, and he doesn't get a lot of sleep.

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