KAMLOOPS — Whatever is negotiated at the end of the day regarding the length of spring break in our school district, let’s be up front and not try to fool anyone. An extra week of vacation time, coupled with what teachers already get, is plenty of holiday time for anyone. It’s more than almost everyone else gets with a similar salary. If a teacher with a Master’s earns upward of $80,000 a year, three months off a year is pretty good. For a starting teacher making $50,000 a year, it’s monstrous. Most people starting out in a job get two, maybe three weeks a year.
Teachers will try to tell you they earn it, because they normally work from somewhere between 6-7 hours a day in the classroom, plus all the prep work they do at home. And they do work hard, and they do work on weekends, and they do work at night. They do earn their pay. But does that translate into three months holiday a year? You can be the judge of that.
They will tell you they have to stand all day in front of a group of kids and try to deal with 30-plus personalities, plus special needs kids, and so on. But people working at the nearby fast food restaurant making a whole lot less money have to stand all day too and they don’t get those kind of holidays. And they have to deal with hot stoves and grumbling customers and sore feet and the list goes on.
And please don’t tell me that you’re making up instructional time by adding half a dozen minutes or so to each day’s class. That’s the biggest farce there is. Anyone who thinks kids will make up a week’s worth of lessons by adding a few minutes a day of instructional time has a big wool blanket they’re trying to pull over your eyes.
If teachers are successful negotiating a new deal which calls for a two-week break, so be it. But let’s not try to beat around the bush and try to fool everyone. Unions negotiate for increased benefits all the time. If you’re going to negotiate another week of holidays, fine. But don’t suggest it’s anything other than that — a benefit that you’ve negotiated. It’s not going to help the kids, it’s not going to provide the same amount of instructional time. It’s simply a perk you’ve bargained into your contract. Don’t try to make it more than it is.