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As my regular readers know, I am writing from China these days, and have been doing so four years so far. Sometimes the blog becomes inaccessible to me, making it impossible to post regularly. In fact, starting in late September 2014, China began interfering with many Google-owned entities of which Blogspot is one. If the blog seems to go dark for a while, please know I will be back as soon as I can get in again. I am sometimes blocked for many weeks at a time. I hope to have a new post up soon if I can gain access. Thank you for your understanding and loyalty.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Are Teachers Fast-Food Purveyors or Professionals?

I have been following an online discussion.  (Scratch that, what do you call it when one of the parties constantly responds with insults).  The topic is supposedly the public sector pensions of teachers.  “SP” is trying to argue that teachers are overpaid for the amount of work they do. The respondent never identifies himself as such,  but I would guess he probably is a teacher, so I’ll call him “Teacher.”*  If “SP” accurately reflects the public perception of the work teachers do, it is no wonder there is zero respect for teachers in our society.

SP: Teachers, as I pointed out, are paid a FULL year wage, for a part time job.

Teacher: As I have repeatedly pointed out, teaching is far from a part-time job. But you already know that. SP: The teaching contract proves my assertion.  Teachers work 37 weeks per year at a contracted 36 hour work week.

Teacher: Teachers work far in excess of their contracted hours and weeks.

SP:  All you do is make up lies about what hours teachers work, and it is 36 hours per week.  Truth can be painful for the trough feeder with entitlement mentality!

Teacher:  Regardless of the minimums that may be in a contract, no teacher limits themselves to the so called contract.  Teachers do not work part-time. In fact, one big reason new teachers quit in the first five years is they are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of out-of-class work that is necessary. What is true that they can save child care expenses because they have to do so much of the work at home.

SP:  Your incompetence is breathtaking! Nobody works more than their contracted hours.  The teachers union would never allow it.

Teacher: Teachers do not work part-time. That is the fact.  You are under some mistaken impression that the only time they work is during face-time with students? Such a misconception is prima facie ludicrous. SP:  Teachers work 6 hours per school day, even if they took home 2 hours of work they would still just be at 8 hours total. They do NOT take home 2 hours of work per day though.  Teachers work part time, that is a fact. Just keep making up the whoppers though, easy to shoot down.  36 hour work week, 37 week work year= part time job.

Teacher:  There is no way teachers can get all the work done they are responsible for during a six hour day. 

SP:  I know many teachers working 36 hours per week Some work even less. Teachers are NOT onsite at their schools for 8 hours per day unless you include the lunch break. They teach 5 hours per day plus a prep period of an hour, prep periods are used for grading papers and so forth.

Teacher (evidently losing patience):  If you think that one-hour prep period is sufficient for getting all the work done, you know nothing. That one hour  is a woefully insufficient amount of time.  Your anecdotal "I know many teachers..." is worthless. You really need to stop talking until you have spent a year getting some real-world experience. Try subbing for a year. Even volunteering as a classroom aide would change your tune.

SP:  No matter what you say, teachers work only part-time.

Teacher:  You would be screaming your head off if teachers actually worked a 36 hour work week for 37 weeks per year. They would do nothing but babysit kids. There would be no time for preparing lessons, making materials, previewing the audio-visuals, testing labs before kids do them, grading papers, calculating report cards, keeping up on professional literature, writing tests and so much more.  What do you think?  Should teachers work as long as it takes to complete all those listed tasks or should teachers work work the so-called "contracted" hours and no more?

SP:  You said, “There would be no time for preparing lessons, making materials, previewing the audio-visuals, testing labs before kids do them, grading papers, calculating report cards, keeping up on professional literature, writing tests and so much more.”  Lesson plans are prepared very infrequently, in fact you could use the same lesson plans throughout your entire career in many areas. Most school districts today have "lesson plan banks" that teachers use and share. You can also BUY lesson plans already made. Grading papers is done in the prep period. Calculating report cards should not be an issue and should also be done in the prep period. Keeping up on professional literature? That is not a job requirement and is also not mandated; it should be done on the teachers OWN time as it relates specifically to their job, it is basically optional "continuing education" required for the license. And professional development days, aka "minimum days", are given multiple times during the year at the expense of the student, so you lose that one. Writing "tests"?? Do you mean developing tests? They are part of lesson plans and curriculum, and again that is an issue that should not be repeated more than once every 2-3 years if that often.  The work load is a part-time 36 hour work week and a part time 37 week work year. Those are the contracted "work loads." I guess you just lost again.

Teacher: You clearly know nothing about being a teacher. Excellent teachers use off-the shelf stuff merely as a reference.  You would be even more unhappy with education outcomes if teacher used the off-the-shelf stuff in the manner you seem to believe they should.
Again I suggest you spend a year being a substitute teacher or even a classroom aide before you say another word about the work teachers do. Don't worry; I'll wait.

SP is evidently under the misconception that repeating a falsity often enough, through some sort of mysterious alchemy, will render that falsehood true. SP is also under the impression that a teaching job is more like a fast food job than anything else in the world of work.  How is it even possible to break through that wall of stubbornness against true facts?  Until our society decides whether teachers are professionals or hired laborers, it will be impossible to effect any meaningful education reform.

Teachers as professionals implies professional standards for entry into the profession, professional autonomy, professional judgment, professional salaries and the tenure to be free of whimsical termination.  Teachers as hired laborers implies strict conformity to the contracted hours, so-called “teacher-proof” curriculum, top-down job instructions and easy firing.  The strange hybrid status teachers have now is unsustainable.

*I camouflaged the user names of the parties.  I also cleaned up the grammar, and spelling of the comments and edited them a little bit for clarity.