Monday, May 21, 2012

The Truth About Summer "Break"

As most educators are putting the finishing touches on what hopefully was another wonderful school year, the break formally known as summer vacation will begin.

Summer break is usually ushered in by a heaping dose of criticism from all those employed in other fields about 'all the time teachers have off.'  I'm on a 12 month contract, but these remarks piss me off nonetheless.

First off, teachers have traditionally had summers off for most of our lifetimes.  This isn't new.  If that was something that was real important as a job perk, non-teacher professionals should have chosen a different vocation when they had that choice.  All jobs have perks & advantages to them.  Teachers don't typically get free sky box tickets to events, corporate golf outings during the work day, expensive dinners, company cars, stock options, or other perks that are often associated with other professional positions.  Of course the difference is, teachers have to carry a cross around for getting President's Day off while someone in the business field can golf every Friday afternoon (on the company dime) while sucking back beers and never have to have their profession attacked or degraded.

Further, teachers salaries reflect the amount of time they work.  They are usually on nine month contracts, and teachers typically earn less than most college degree professions out of the gate.  It certainly isn't because their work is unskilled or unimportant, rather they work less of the year.

It's also a fallacy that on June first teachers trade their rulers for a swim suit and return on August 31st.  Necessary summer work increases every year as school districts and individual buildings prepare to meet upcoming challenges.  Teachers are frequently in doing committee work, as well as preparing their own plans and classrooms.  This work usually non paid (just like many evenings and weekends throughout the school year where prep time generally isn't acknowledged outside the education field).  I've worked at several school districts and the buildings are full of activity all week in the summer.

It certainly can be frustrating when someone's child gets a lazy teacher who's still employed because of tenure.  Those sorts of people most certainly exist, and they only serve to reinforce misnomers about the majority of educators.  It often feels that short of the TV weatherman, no profession gets universally painted with a bad brush because of it's outliers.  I thinks it's both fair and appropriate to point out that all fields have bad personnel that exist.  All fields have dishonest and lazy employees who collect checks they likely haven't earned.  In all these instances, these sub par contributors are in the minority.  

Enjoy your summers teachers.  You've earned them.

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