Public School Teachers: 10-Month Employees, But 12-Month Educators

Many times over this summer, I have heard from many well-intentioned people that it must be nice to have a job that allows one to only work 10 months out of a year.

Write a blog or some op-eds about conditions of the teaching profession and the state of public schools in North Carolina and one of the first counterarguments you will receive is that you only have to “work 10 months a year, but get paid for twelve. “

Yes, we might be what is termed “ten-month” employees, but we are 12 month educators. And to set the record straight, teachers are paid for ten months, some just spread it out over twelve month increments.

One of the obviously overlooked aspects of the 10-month calendar is that it is a system that society has created, not teachers. If you want teachers to teach 12 months, then open schools for twelve months. Change the law about the number of days students have to be in school. Be willing to invest more tax money into keeping schools fully operational for that time.

There’s bus transportation, food, extracurriculars, etc. that must be resourced. If someone wants schools to be teaching students twelve months a year, then finance it.

One would also have to convince the tourism industry that having a vast majority of students go to school during prime travel and vacation months will have no bearing on the economy. The calendar as it stands today for traditional public schools is somewhat driven by the tourism industry.

What about those “year-round” schools? Well, they go the same number of days as traditional schools, but it’s just spread out over the entire year. Same with those teachers.

But to think that when school is not in “session,” teachers do not do anything professionally speaking is ludicrous. What many mistake is that that “eight weeks of vacation” is actually unemployment. Teachers have 10-month contracts. What one may call “vacation” is actually unpaid time that is spent getting renewed certification, professional development, or advanced degrees—all of which are paid with teachers’ own money that gets taxed by the state. Until recently, the only way teachers could get a pay increase is to fund their own advanced education. But even that is no longer the case because of a crusade led the current NCGA to eliminate advanced-degree pay increases.

And don’t even begin to quantify what coaches in any sport are doing as far as camps, workouts, summer leagues, and fundraising to get teams ready for the next year. And most every coach at any given high school is also a full-time teacher.

Summers are also a time for credit recovery for students among other administrative duties. Just in the first week of “summer vacation” at my own school:

  • Offices were open to conduct business.
  • Student Services was open for registration and transcript analysis.
  • Teachers were on campus conducting various tasks.
  • The yearbook staff is already at camp in Chapel Hill working on next year’s edition.
  • Rooms were being cleared and cleaned.
  • The baseball coach was conducting a baseball camp for community youth. He also coached over the weekend at the state games helping local talent get more attention from college programs as that might be a key way for some of them to go to college.
  • The soccer coaches also had their camps going teaching community youth skills. Some of the current and past players for a state championship team were on hand to help out.
  • State sanctioned workouts were happening on other fields.
  • Summer school classes were about to begin to help students regain credits.
  • Some teachers were already back from grading AP tests.
  • Some teachers were in professional development classes in various places.
  • Some teachers were prepping for new courses they are to teach because populations change and numbers of sections change.
  • Some teachers were preparing for National Boards.
  • Some teachers were moving materials on campus to facilitate summer cleaning and maintenance.
  • Some teachers were helping interview potential new teachers and then helping those hired get more acclimated with the campus.
  • Some teachers were taking inventory.
  • Some teachers just came to campus to get work done to prepare for next year like send items to print shop or get websites and databases ready.

That school is still doing other things related to education the other seven weeks, as are many of the teachers whether they are on campus or not.

months

Yes, we might be 10-month “employees.”

But we are 12-month educators.

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