“You expect at least eight weeks paid vacation per year because that is what the taxpayers of North Carolina gave you back when you were a poorly compensated teacher.” – Sen, David Curtis in May of 2014 in response to a teacher letter.
“I suspect that most people, if told they could work 10 months a year doing something they love, and make $54,000, would leap at the opportunity. Most would be content, if not elated. Very few, I suspect, would be protesting.” – Charles Davenport in the News & Record on May 5th, 2019 in reference to the May 1st teacher march and rally.
AP Exams will end this week, and soon after Memorial Day many schools will enter long exam periods for all students – both state exams and teacher-made exams. That means that summer break for students and schools is approaching.
Many critics of public school teachers and advocates who are asking for fully funding public schools seem to rely on an argument that teachers only work ten months out of the year and get their summers as “paid vacation.” And there is really no truth to that claim.
True, there will not be any traditional classes on campuses, but much is going on in the summer.
In fact, the first week of summer there will be on my campus:
- Offices open to conduct business.
- Student Services open for registration and transcript analysis.
- Teachers on campus conducting various tasks.
- The yearbook staff will at camp in Chapel Hill working on next year’s edition.
- Rooms being cleared and cleaned.
- Coaches will be conducting camps for community youth.
- State sanctioned workouts will happen on fields and the weight rooms.
- Summer school classes will begin to help students regain credits.
- Some teachers back from grading AP tests and fulfilling end-of-year duties.
- Some teachers will be in professional development classes in various places.
- Some teachers will be prepping for new courses they are to teach because populations change and numbers of sections change.
- Some teachers will be preparing for National Boards.
- Some teachers will be moving materials on campus to facilitate summer cleaning and maintenance.
- Some teachers will be helping interview potential new teachers and then helping those hired get more acclimated with the campus.
- Some teachers will be taking inventory.
- Some teachers will just come to campus to get work done to prepare for next year like send items to print shop or get websites and databases ready.
What teachers have are 10-month contracts. What Curtis and Davenport call a “vacation” is actually unpaid time that is spent by many getting renewed certification, professional development, or advanced degrees—all of which are paid with teachers’ own money that gets taxed by the state.
In reality, those “summer vacations” are actually periods of unemployment in which many teachers still do lots of work.
If people like Curtis and Davenport do not like that fact that teachers must abide by a 10-month contract and not a 12-month one, then they can do one thing that really is quite complicated and goes against the very fiber of the current NCGA and many in our communities: get the state legislature to send students to school for eight more weeks.
That’s right. Get the legislature to dismiss the tourist industry lobbyists and ask the state and local school systems to help finance the needs to allow for more school days – monies for physical facilities, supplies, resources, etc.
As a teacher, I would be there. Students could learn more and may not suffer from a summer “slump” in retaining things they have learned. If businesses are willing to pass on summer employees and families are fine with students going to school for 220 days a year instead of 180 (even more if breaks are not taken as much throughout the year), then let’s do it.
But until that happens, the argument that teachers get all this “paid vacation” really does not add up.
Besides, so much happens on a public school campus during the summer by people who already extend themselves beyond their contracts.