A recent letter to the editor in the Sacramento Bee, California, newspaper, proposed that teachers should work a 12 month year, like everyone else.
First, before the chorus begins about the antiquated “agrarian schedule” myth, it is just that, a myth. A popular one to be sure, but it’s wrong. The last agrarian schedule that any school was on was prior to the industrial revolution. Check out an article with that headline at Eduskeptic.com for more information.
Every time that kind of sentiment appears in print, the assumption seems to be that education is like selling cars, making widgets, checking out groceries or taking x-rays down at the clinic. Wrong.
The other myth is that teachers get 3 months off for summer break. It’s not true, and never has been. It may be a bit of nit picking, but it’s not true.
It used to be that schools started the day after Labor Day, and got out in mid to late June.
What’s real now is that most schools get out around the first of June and start back up in early August.
What is true is that teachers get more time off than most people. The school year contract for teachers in California is somewhere around 184 days. Administrative types work around 200 days per year, with district office and county offices working 12 months.
Considering that the work month generally consists of 20 possible days, that equals 240 possible work days per year for “normal” professions (20×12=240).
Taking two work weeks off that total, for vacation, equals 230 workable days per year (240-10=230). For more senior workers, that vacation time may be a full 15 to 20 days off, which comes out to either 225 workable days or 220 workable days.
The federal and state holidays are applicable to most everyone, so they don’t do much to differentiate the net total working days.
Outside of minimum wage jobs, teachers get paid better than some, worse than others in professional settings. Teachers pensions are far from luxurious. Check into your state Department of Education for the stats on teachers pensions where you live.
There are several issues with running schools for 12 months. The first is economic.
Paying the nations teachers for the extra time would be very expensive.
Considering the financially choppy waters most districts in most states are in, adding 30 paid days to the pay schedules, it doesn’t seem very probable. Teachers, like anyone else who has a job, aren’t going to work for free, no matter how much they love their jobs.
The second big point is burnout, of teachers and students.
Intellectual pursuits do best when there is time to absorb the lessons taught. That’s where the school breaks come in. Everything needs time to filter down into the folds of the brain.
Teachers need time to collaborate, same as the students. Without the time to do this, the quality of teaching would tank. For those who think it already has, it would simply tank more.
There is no evidence that a 12 month school year would benefit anyone.
The only real change would be this: the schools would become the defacto babysitters for the nation. That isn’t what education is about.