The Substitute Teachers Shortage

As a Montgomery County Public School teacher and the wife of one, I was most interested in The Post's article "Area School Systems Face Substitute Teacher Shortage" {front page, May 23}. I'd like to make a few points.

My husband and I get our own substitute teachers if at all possible. My fellow teachers and I seek the best possible person for the kind of classes we teach. Most office workers return after absence to a lot of work to make up, but it is usually not necessary that a person be seated at his desk for the day. In the teacher's case, a substitute must be present from the beginning of the day. The absent teacher must leave instructions no matter how sick, no matter what the emergency. I know from experience that when a teacher returns, there are usually many hours of make-up work to do.

I have gone to school with fevers, dizziness and even an inability to speak or hear well because of illness, either because no substitute could be found or because I was saving my sick days for when my own young children might become ill. Teachers are exposed to a wide range of illnesses. While a young teacher in California, I contracted chicken pox!

Similarly, it is not possible to come in a couple of hours late because of a dentist's appointment and tack those hours on to the end of the workday. The hours of the schoolday are fixed.

I believe the vast majority of teachers are like my husband and me. We find it difficult to be out, difficult to organize for and difficult to get back on track upon returning. For our students' sake, and ours, we try to limit our use of substitutes. LESLIE B. SKLAREW Rockville