Thursday, April 05, 2012

Why Should Teachers Have the Summer Off?

You know what drives me crazy?  People who think teachers' lives are so easy and great simply because they don't have to work during the summer.

Let's start with the basic argument I hear all the time.  Teachers shouldn't complain about pay and hours because they have long vacations during the school year and then the entire summer off.

People who are married to teachers know that the previous statement is ridiculous.  Many teachers work extra jobs during the summer to help make ends meet.  Teachers who coach sports, lead music and art programs, run day camps, or teach summer school, spend a ton of time with students during the summer - at laughable hourly rates - while those kids' parents are away working "real jobs."

Additionally, a teacher's 'summer break' is actually very short.  In most districts the school year ends in early June, but teachers stay an extra week of two cleaning their classrooms.  Then they return again in early August to start lesson planning, continuing ed training, classroom organization, and all sorts of other teacher tasks that people over look.  That leaves about one month for teachers to rest and recuperate emotionally.

Think for a moment about how exhausted your kids make you in the few hours you have with them during the evening.  Now imagine you are in a classroom with 20 of "your kid" 7 hours a day, 5 days a week.  That's what our teachers face 9 months a year.  Now add onto that before school meetings, after school meetings, begging for parents volunteers, planning and hosting conferences, setting up special studies for gifted/not-gifted students, and writing newsletters that parents don't read or follow-through on. Not to mention dealing with the numerous unplanned interruptions to the day - things like puking, lice, pink eye, fights, monitoring for bullying, and dealing with crazy parents who think the teacher is on their beckoning call.

You know, the people who bash teachers are probably right.  Now that I think about it, teachers have it SO easy.  The $10-12/hour (which is a generous estimate of hourly wage) that they make is WAY too much compared to the investments they are making in teaching and shaping the future leaders of our country, the kids whose parents can't/don't/won't even help get the homework back to school each day.  I mean, why are they complaining - they get the whole summer off after all!
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