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 this as they miscalculate the pay of teachers and post it online, and they reiterated their stance as part of their 15 Myths about Collective Bargaining Reform and Senate Bill 5 (myth #14).  Let’s spend a little time discussing the absurd notion that teachers don’t put in considerably more hours than their contract requires.

The myth as the Buckeye Institute presented 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 2011 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 JobsOhio program. Primary role will be to present new information daily 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. Director will be required to conduct 185 unique presentations on consecutive working days to the same audience of investors 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 precisely 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 this Communications Director could both prepare each day’s presentation 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 teachers 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).


  • Once again we see the right wingers/tea partiers trying to diminish the work of teachers. Teachers spend an incredible amount of time outside the workday hours to plan, grade papers, research, and meet/call parents. Besides a bachelors degree, most teachers have masters degrees, and special certifications.

    All these clowns who continue to disrespect teachers haven’t been in a classroom since they were students, and don’t have the b*lls to work in a classroom.

    This movement of going after teachers is part of the strategy to
    a) minimize teachers unions, b) get rid of highly qualified teachers,
    c) oppress the teaching profession which is made up by a majority of women. Attacking educators has destroyed the teaching profession in North Carolina and Mississippi and left both states struggling with poorly prepared Teach for America candidates.

  • carrieee4

    TAKE MY JOB FOR 1MONTH!!!!!! Then tell me that all I work is from 8to 3:30. My typical day. Get up at 5:00 get ready for work. leave at 6:00 and arrive at 7:00. Earliest I can get in the building. Work in my room prepping it for the day…laying out paper work writing work on the board…preparing the computers. going through any new e-mail. Last minute copies..changing the objectives and for each lesson that must be posted…cleaning up what the janitor did not clean so we can sit on the carpet and not have anyone playing with crap from the floor.getting the laptop from the computor lab so I can have it set up and ready to go to be used with our math lessons (en-vision a large part on the computer)
    Pick up my students to take to the room and start the day at 8:15. Teach Teach Teach 11:30 lunch sit for the first time in the day and eat and prep the room for interventions Science and Social Studies 12:15 start class Teach Teach Teach. Students leave at 2:30…make sure those who need to leave do and those who should stay for tutoring do not leave. Go to bathroom sometimes for the first time in the day. Gather up all my papers to be graded. Gather up materials for next day for intervention depending on work done by students today. Gather up my students that I tutor after school for the after school program. Do not want some one else tutoring them who is not up with what my students need. 5:30 tutoring done go home. 6:30 pick up take out so I do not have to cook. 7:30 grade papers. Make lesson plans for intervention and changes needed for the next days lessons. Look up addition materials for testing intervention and next thing you know it is way past my 10:00 bed time and it is 11:00 and I need to get up at 5 and start all over. No I have no life. My school day is almost all day. So….TAKE MY JOB FOR 1MONTH!!!!!! Then tell me that all I work is from 8to 3:30.

  • buckeyewill

    It is a shame we are going after people who are dedicated to their job.

  • 333SAL

    I may be wrong, but my impression is that these days, not too many young people want to become teachers. According to the Republican-worshipped religion of “supply and demand,” that alone should cause skilled teachers to become more valuable and thus more highly-paid. The small points concerning how long teachers work and the intensity of that work become irrelevant . . . only that we need their skills.

    Oh, I must be thinking of corporate CEO’s . . . my bad!

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