Random House defines the word “sub-” as a Latin prefix meaning “below” or “beneath.” We all know how teachers in our society are underpaid and undervalued, so where does that leave substitute teachers?

Well, if the story in the Press Herald about a sub who was fired in Pittsfield is any indication, I would have to say nowhere (“Maine teacher fired after calling students stupid,” Jan. 30).

The hysterical hearsay published in the Press Herald is the kind of journalism expected from the National Enquirer, not from Maine’s leading newspaper!

It’s bad enough that a teacher was fired because a gaggle of 9-year-old Girl Scouts alleged that the teacher called them “stupid” and other words in class. What’s even worse, perhaps, is that the newspaper would print third-hand reports as fact. And the sub’s side of the story wasn’t in the article.

The whole situation reminds me of the Salem witch trials in the late 17th century, where spectral evidence was allowed by the courts, resulting in the hanging of nearly two dozen people for witchcraft.

Everyone wants students to have the best education available, and subs are a vital part of that. As such, they should be treated with respect and protected by a union from children who will be children, staff who are incompetent or paranoid, and journalists who don’t do their homework.

Don Kimball

South Portland

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