In a truly abysmal encapsulation of Where We Are Now, the superintendent of Denver Public Schools has suggested that, should DPS educators vote to go on strike next week, furloughed federal employees desperate to feed themselves and their families might be convinced to cross a picket line and work as substitute teachers.
Speaking with local NBC affiliate KUSA, newly elected school superintendent Susana Cordova said that while Denver Public School teachers vote on whether or not to strike over salary negotiations, her office has already begun reaching out to government workers who are now a month into what has become the longest federal shutdown in history.
“We’ve got a whole group of federal employees who’ve been furloughed who are not working or not getting paid,” Cordova told the station. “We have attended some of the work events where folks who are looking to pick up extra cash can come substitute with us.”
According to KUSA, the furloughed workers would join the approximately 1,200-person deep bench of existing substitute teachers in the district, and could stand to make up to $250 per day during a potential strike—double what they’d ordinarily make. The district would also expedite the administrative on-boarding process and cover some of the fees associated with becoming a certified substitute teacher.
Of course, this all makes for an understandably attractive package for federal employees missing some $5,000 from their bank accounts during this shutdown so far. And that’s what makes the whole situation so scummy: Teachers fighting for better pay are now facing the possibility of their jobs being temporarily filled—and their union’s efforts undermined—by federal employees who are themselves getting screwed out of work by an uncaring administration seemingly content to let this particular ouroboros eat its own ass for the immediate future.
The Denver Classroom Teachers Association union is set to vote today, January 22, on whether or not to authorize a strike. I have reached out to the DCTA for their reaction to Cordova’s outreach to furloughed federal employees, and will update this story if they respond.