Concerns over substitutes filling in during potential Fresno Unified teachers strike

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Thursday, October 26, 2023
Concern over substitute teachers in Fresno Unified
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The countdown is on to a strike authorized this week by the Fresno Teachers Association.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The countdown is on to a strike authorized this week by the Fresno Teachers Association.

There's a lot of discourse on people hired to take over for educators during a strike, with some calling them 'glorified babysitters.'

Substitute teachers we spoke to said they've already been facing backlash on campuses.

The district has prepared for the possibility of a strike for weeks, calling on qualified individuals to fill in the gap left by educators hitting the picket line.

The district will pay substitutes five hundred dollars a day.

FTA president Manuel Bonilla said that's disappointing.

"It's disrespectful that the superintendent and the board are gonna offer $500 a day to subs. They are wasting that money when they could be investing it into the classroom," said Bonilla.

But Fresno Unified Chief Communications Officer, Nikki Henry said the district feels it's important to keep education going as they negotiate with teachers.

"Many other large districts who have faced a strike over the last year, they've shut their doors completely. And knowing the needs of our students and families, we don't think that that is right to close the doors," said Henry.

To receive the $500 per day from Fresno Unified, subs must, have a bachelor's degree or have completed at least 90 college units and show proof of current enrollment at a 4-year university and working toward a bachelor's degree.

Individuals must pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test, also known as the CBEST.

Then, go through an interview process with Fresno Unified, and if chosen, pass a fingerprint and background check. The final step is attending a half-day orientation.

We spoke to a newly admitted Fresno Unified substitute teacher who asked us not to show his face because he would be crossing the picket line.

He said although five hundred dollars a day is a nice incentive, it goes beyond a paycheck for him.

"It's been proven that during the pandemic, the kids, you know, they lost a lot. So, staying at home doesn't work. They want to keep everything open so the kids can come to school," said Fresno Unified Substitute Teacher. "The important thing is for them to be there, and they can get hands-on instruction if they need it."

He is retired but was previously a teacher for over 30 years. He said that the other new substitutes he's met during the sign-up process for FUSD are very qualified to be in the classroom.

"The class I was in, about 98 percent of them have already been in the classroom. So, it's not nothing new," said Fresno Unified Substitute Teacher.

FTA and Fresno Unified have confirmed negotiations will continue on Thursday, where the two groups will meet in a neutral location.

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