Justifying Teacher Raises: Make them work more!

Education sure is in the news a lot lately.  It’s a subject near to my heart since I have spent my entire 24 year (so far!) career in the field.

This week, Utah Governor Huntsman endorsed a full year for teachers in a move to justify giving teachers raises.  Of course we all know that teachers already do not work enough, so this makes perfect sense (said sarcastically).

“I’m not going to rest until we … get to the point we’re paying teachers what they deserve, which is basically what they’re getting in surrounding states,” Huntsman told the Public Education and Higher Education appropriations committees, the Utah Board of Regents and the State Board of Education in a joint meeting at Granite District headquarters Wednesday.
The trimester idea would give teachers contracts longer than the traditional 180 to 190 days a year and therefore, higher pay because they’re working more.

Let me get this straight.  In order to pay teachers what they deserve (as stated in the above), we should increase the amount of contract time for teachers to bring their salaries in line with other states?  Huh?

Utah teacher salaries lag behind other occupations requiring similar experience by about 10 to 15 percent, and 30 percent for positions requiring a background in math or science, according to a Department of Workforce Services study prepared for the task force.
      Part of the problem, Kendell said, is a nine-month work contract.
      “They work very hard…(but) it’s still part-time work,” he said, adding the average American worker puts in 240 to 260 days a year, not 180 or 190. “No business I know of can afford to shut down for three months every year, but we do it.”

Oh, I see now – it’s the old “We private business owners and workers physically work more hours than teachers do so they should have to work just as much as we do.”  They still don’t get it.  While teachers may physically be in class 8 hours a day for 10 months (yes, teachers get a 10 month contract, not 9 as stated in the article), they spend probably an average (in my estimate based on my veteran experience) of 40 hours per week above that attending meetings, trainings, and mostly working on lesson plans and grading and tutoring students after school hours.  Additionally, teachers often spend most of their summer attending more meetngs and trainings and planning for the next school year.  Most teachers I know (including myself) spend the time assessing the past year and revising curriculum for teaching in the fall. 

I challenge any business person to spend a year as a teacher, including all of the components associated with it – paperwork, meetings, parent phone calls and meetings, tutoring, additional schooling and all.  C’mon, I dare you.

I do not see how increasing the school year is going to lessen the work load – it will only increase the work load.  So any pay raise associated with a calendar day increase will not solve the issue of “giving teachers what they deserve”.

This is a figurative slap in the face to educational professionals in this state.


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