Non-teaching days are essential

By From page A6 | November 08, 2012

I am writing in response to Paul Brady’s letter (Nov. 4) proposing that Davis Joint Unified School District teachers take furlough time on non-teaching days, “so as not to disadvantage students and parents.”

To equate similar steps taken by the University of California faculty to those by DJUSD teachers is like comparing apples to oranges, especially when the majority of furlough time and budget concessions made to stem the tide of red ink at UC Davis is being shouldered by non-academic staff.

As an elementary school teacher, contractually I have four non-student days per year — two at the beginning of the year for meetings and classroom set-up, one for conference prep, and one at the end of the school year when we fill out requisite paperwork and box up our classrooms.

Most teachers I know do their start-up prep over the summer during unpaid hours. The fall non-teaching day for elementary teachers is not enough time to do the work required to fill out 32-plus report cards. We receive one conference prep day per year whereas the time actually spent by teachers is usually closer to two weeks, all done during non-work hours.

I heartily agree with the Chamber of Commerce’s message that furloughs negatively affect businesses and burden parents. Last Friday, I spent our non-teaching day holding 18 parent-teacher conferences. Many parents were already missing work to be at home with their kids and I hoped to keep them from having to miss work a second time. This also meant I spent my own unpaid time preparing for conferences during the previous weeks.

I spent Sunday, a most beautiful fall day, prepping in my classroom. There is never enough time to teach everything we need to and I certainly don’t want to lose any teaching time. That said, there are many options I can agree with to help solve the budget crisis, furlough days being one, but I cannot fathom volunteering even more time to do the non-teaching requirements like cumulative files, report cards, meetings with administrators and packing up our classrooms each June. A teacher’s time is already volunteered to its fullest.

Amy George

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