It is common for those critical of education in America to link a teacher’s contractual schedule to their actual work and claim that teaching is a part-time job.  In Ohio, the right-wing think tank Buckeye Institute has been doing as they miscalculate the pay of teachers and post it online, and they most recently reiterated their stance as part of their 15 Myths about Collective Bargaining Reform and Senate Bill 5 (myth #14).  Modern soundly rebuked these a few weeks ago, but I want to spend a little extra time discussing the absurd notion that teachers don’t put in considerably more hours than their contract requires.

The myth as they present it reads:

Myth #14: A majority of teachers work large numbers of uncompensated time.

They proceed to claim that teachers only work 1350-1450 hours per year and that teachers couldn’t possibly work more because “it would mean that a majority of Ohio’s K-12 teachers are working hundreds, if not thousands, of hours without being compensated.”

Umm, yea, that’s what happens, except teachers ARE compensated – it’s called salary, not hourly.  Just because the president of this right-wing organization has low personal expectations for himself and his own co-workers does not mean that he should project those ideas onto hard-working educators.  To back his opinion up, he can only offer more personal opinion based on his misconceptions about the Ohio Education Association’s relationship with its members (teachers run their own organization, BTW).  No data from this research giant, only his opinion.

This conservative outfit has been promoting this fallacy of “hours worked” since they first began posting teacher salaries on their website:

Whenever someone goes to their website to look up a salary, they can access this “helpful” pop-up that shamefully promotes the myth that teachers are paid on an hourly rate (instead of salary) and only work when students are in school, which is merely the framework for the hours that appear in a teacher’s contract.

Lest you think this is an isolated incident, Tea Party and 9-12 Project proponent Tom Zawistowski spread the tale back in March as he, too, tried to drum up support for Senate Bill 5:

Now in exchange for that, their contract requires them to teach 184 days per year for 7 hours per day.  That is a total of 1,288 hours per year.

At this point I feel it only fitting to quote Mr. Spock: “May I say that I have not thoroughly enjoyed serving with humans? I find their illogic and foolish emotions a constant irritant.”

Seriously.  How can anyone who has ever been in any way associated with a teacher believe that their day begins and ends with the students?

Let’s try and put this in terms of a business example by way of a job description:

Communications Director wanted for newly-created JobsOhio program.  Primary role will be to present new information during full-day sessions (8:30 am – 4:00 pm) using a variety of presentation formats, including handouts, PowerPoint, and other innovative techniques to interested investors.  The director will be required to conduct 185 unique presentations on consecutive working days and cover all material as prescribed by JobsOhio.  Manuals containing details will be provided to explain the required content for each of the 185 unique 6.5-hour sessions.  Sessions will promptly begin at 8:45 am and end at 3:45 pm.

Other responsibilities shall include:

  • Promptly communicate with investors via email and/or telephone*
  • Provide JobsOhio board with weekly update* of information presented
  • Routinely create* and collect surveys and evaluations from investors to gauge their understanding of JobsOhio; adjust presentations as needed
  • Create* standout presentations that deeply involve investors in the JobsOhio process
  • Create* exceptional handouts to promote the JobsOhio brand and retain interest of investors

*The Communications Director will have no direct reports and will be solely responsibly for creating and duplicating all materials each day, and responding to all phone calls and emails.

Starting salary: $40,000

One-year position evaluated annually.

Do you think that Director could both prepare the presentations and actually present simultaneously?  Then why would anyone think a teacher does that?

And that’s the easy version of a teacher’s work.  Imagine that group of investors getting squirrelly and disruptive, belligerent and frustrated, hungry and thirsty.  That investor needs something to write with, those two investors are touching each other, and, wait, whose phone is ringing? Turn that off!

It is both irrational and insulting to promote the idea that teacher’s only work their “contractually required” hours.  Planning, creating, grading, duplicating, researching, learning . . . these are all things that a teacher does “off the clock.”

And why don’t teachers record these additional hours and scream to get them included in their contracts?  Because they already are – it’s called salary.  And teachers know something that these far-right entities do not – teaching isn’t a job, it’s a profession, a career, a way of life.

 

What time would I put on a teacher’s day?

Every minute they are awake (and about half that they are asleep).

 

 
  • Jen

    The Communications Director will also be expected to spend up to %5 of his or her salary to purchase materials for the decoration and organization of a conference room for daily presentations, as well as office supplies for investors who cannot afford their own. 

    In addition to previously stated job requirements, the Music Communications Director will be required to provide impromptu and/or rehearsed stage presentations, featuring large groups of investors, for the purposes of (but not limited to) showcasing accumulated investor ability, entertaining camcorder-wielding custodial stockholders, and the secular celebration of sacred holiday events.

  • Anastasjoy

    It amazes me that anyone could promote this myth in all seriousness. I would like each and every one of these right-wing policy types to spend a week as a teacher and then come back and report — only they would never last.

  • Anastasjoy

    It amazes me that anyone could promote this myth in all seriousness. I would like each and every one of these right-wing policy types to spend a week as a teacher and then come back and report — only they would never last.

  • OMG!!!!!!! I teach and you can look up on my sign in sheet for the last 13 years. I learned not to take my work home becauxe at home it is to hard to concentrate well and do a

  • These conservative “think tanks” are full of folks who clearly aren’t thinking reasonable about this topic!

  • Random Thoughts

    Bless you for your understanding of how a teacher’s life works. Personally, my family can attest to the fact that I carry my bookbag EVERYWHERE… no holiday or family gathering is complete without it.  I take it with me to the hair salon, to the doctor’s office, to sporting events… everywhere. Anytime I have a spare moment, I pull a stack of papers out for grading, or I’m jotting down things in my plan book. I’m in my room two weeks before I’m required to be there, getting my room ready for the year, and for a week after it ends cleaning up debris. I work Saturday mornings monitoring Saturday school, and I work evenings and weekends for the athletic department selling tickets to games. I volunteer for the fall festival, and for after-school tutoring, for summer school, and….. jeez….. I could go on and on.
    Anyone who still thinks we get three months off (June, July, and August) is delusional. With calamity-day makeups, the school year doesn’t end until well into June, and most teachers I know are back in their rooms early in August. Regardless, I definitely put in 12-months’ worth of work in those 9-10 months!

    Why is it so difficult for these people to understand this? Why don’t they take a little time, do a little research, TALK to teachers, instead of going on what they “think” they know about a teacher’s life? Or better yet, I welcome any one of them to spend a week in my classroom… the students and I could set them straight.

  • All the rotten TGOP do is lie. They lie; they win elections; they wreck stuff; they blame someone else; they don’t go to jail; it can’t be fixed in one election cycle; they come back even worse than ever…

    Lather, rinse, repeat. 

  • All the rotten TGOP do is lie. They lie; they win elections; they wreck stuff; they blame someone else; they don’t go to jail; it can’t be fixed in one election cycle; they come back even worse than ever…

    Lather, rinse, repeat. 

  • Ingthing

    The Teacher develops new and current materials annually, and often the Teacher moves from one grade to another to accommodate fluctuations in student class size each year.  The “gravy” is gone before it gets to the Teacher’s plate because it is lapped up by months and years of working lots of overtime to design lessons while teaching most of the day. Just in time to teach another grade, another unit, another curriculum, another standardized test, etc.   The Teacher maintains currency in her/his field to help your community’s children and, in turn, your community.  The Director more often gets another degree to make more money, and certainly wouldn’t dedicate her/his life to serving the students of our communities because she/he can make a lot more money in the corporate world.

    I’m a teacher, and I’m a taxpayer, too.  I’m thankful that some of my tax money goes to serving our children in public schools because they need Teachers who are well-educated, experienced, and dedicated.  I was in the corporate world, and I’m still not making the wages I was earning nearly fifteen years ago.   If there are less-than excellent, undedicated, low-performing teachers in your district, then their administrators and school boards should be addressing that as part of their jobs.   I’m sick of teachers being blamed for a lack of active and effective  management for a small percentage of  low performers.  Get a clue!

  • Pragmatic_one

    The Buckeye Institute is an interesting organization. They keep writing editorials to the Dispatch and the Dispatch keeps printing them. But I have yet to read a single editorial from them that wasn’t completely and totally misleading complete with statistics that have been severely warped. In their world, public employees receive ‘Ferrari Wages’. It’s all very weird. Their game is usually to compare apples to oranges.

    Example: They claim public employees make more than an average private sector employee. But they don’t mention that the private sector has a significant amount of low wage workers – fast food, clerks, etc that the public sector does not employ. Most public sector jobs require degrees and are highly specialized.

    They are libertarians. I’ve never met a libertarian who wasn’t a gigantic liar when it comes to economics.

  • Ann

    It is not difficult to remove a poor teacher. It is difficult to convince poor administrators to do their jobs, document concerns, and fire teachers – with good cause.  Penalizing and maligning an entire profession due to the occasional bad apple is an ineffective way of solving problems.

  • Xx

    Republicans don’t want teaching to be a profession and they certainly don’t want their to be such a thing as public education.   What they want is for education to be a means for their “education experts” to sell pre-made curriculum to TFA hourly workers in order to further transfer our tax dollars to the very wealthy.

    Republicans are scum.

  • Eraser1998

    One thing that really ticks me off about their “analysis” is their comparison to a “typical” job.  They say a typical worker puts in 2,080 hours, and then they scale up the pay to that number of hours from the minimum contract hours for a teacher.

    2080 hours / 40 hrs/wk = 52 weeks.

    Can anyone name ANY college educated professional that has NO vacation and NO federal or state holidays off?   According to BLS data, an average college educated worker gets over 3 weeks off per year between vacation, personal days, and federal holidays. 

    So why doesn’t the Buckeye Institute calculate it based on a typical work year for a college-educated professional, and use around 1,960 hours?  Clearly its because they have an agenda that they want to push and will manipulate data any way possible to deceive people to support them.

  • dlw

    So I am to assume that the legislators know more than I do? Are smarter than I am? Can make better decisions for my children than I can? What does their children going to private schools have to do with anything at all?

    I am proudly public-school educated. The district from which I graduated was and is top notch. That public school education prepared me for college, where I successfully earned a B.A. (with honors, I might add)… I then went on to earn an MPA… and then a J.D. How many of our representatives are as educated as I myself am?

    And so again, why should I give a scrap about where they send their children to school? That their children go to private schools is not, in many cases, a condemnation of public schools. Some reps I’m sure live in less than desirable public districts and their ability to move to a better district is hampered by their job and the requirement that they actually live where they serve. Others have lived the moneyed lives that all too often lead to a belief that private is just always better. Some are likely sending their children to their own alma maters. And yes, I’m sure that some have the mistaken belief that all public schools are substandard.

    Finally, some do go to public school. Why, I myself went to school with some of their children. And no, I did not attend a school district that anyone has ever heard of.

  • dlw

    So I am to assume that the legislators know more than I do? Are smarter than I am? Can make better decisions for my children than I can? What does their children going to private schools have to do with anything at all?

    I am proudly public-school educated. The district from which I graduated was and is top notch. That public school education prepared me for college, where I successfully earned a B.A. (with honors, I might add)… I then went on to earn an MPA… and then a J.D. How many of our representatives are as educated as I myself am?

    And so again, why should I give a scrap about where they send their children to school? That their children go to private schools is not, in many cases, a condemnation of public schools. Some reps I’m sure live in less than desirable public districts and their ability to move to a better district is hampered by their job and the requirement that they actually live where they serve. Others have lived the moneyed lives that all too often lead to a belief that private is just always better. Some are likely sending their children to their own alma maters. And yes, I’m sure that some have the mistaken belief that all public schools are substandard.

    Finally, some do go to public school. Why, I myself went to school with some of their children. And no, I did not attend a school district that anyone has ever heard of.

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