Monday, August 22, 2005

Teacher "vacations"

It happened -TWICE- today. It was just an innocent comment, but I blew my stack both times.

"You must really enjoy all your holiday (vacation)," comments Mr. Well-meaning friend.

Yes and no. Yes, I enjoy the time off, but don't you dare call it vacation. A vacation is time away from work that is voluntary and is paid. My time off from school is neither. I'm effectively laid off several times a year. My work schedule has more in common with an agricultural worker than an accountant.

Let me explain...Most professional Americans work 250 days a year (50 weeks X 5 days) and get two additional weeks of PAID vacation. Therefore, professionals receive money for virtually every weekday in a year. If a professional wanted, they could work during their vacation time and get paid double (once for the accrued vacation day and once for actually working)

I'm under contract to work 185 days a year. That is all I get paid for. If I wanted to work more, I couldn't. The schools are empty. There is no work for me. Outside of education, that is referred to as being laid-off. Inside education, it is labelled a "vacation".

"But don't you get paid all year round?" I hear you asking. Yes I do, except that I'm getting paid over 12 months for 9 months of work.

From September through May, I received 3/4 of the money I earned that month. The remainder is held by the school/district and is paid out during the 3 months of summer. Let's be clear. Teachers get no paid vacations. On their vacations they are being paid for day already worked. Teachers can't double up like other professional by working during their vacations. We don't have any children to teach and we aren't getting paid for those days off either.

I'm a prime example. I am ready to go back to work, but I'm not going until Wednesday, the first official day back, because it would be my own time and I wouldn't be getting paid for it. If I went into my classroom tomorrow to set it up, I'd wouldn't be a professional returning to the office, I'd be a volunteer helping out.