Teachers Respond to the Proposal of Year-Round Teaching
In the Opinion page article "Year-Round Teaching," Feb. 27, the author offers some sound arguments. However, as a teacher and an advocate of year-round schools, I am compelled to comment on one of his contentions.
The author asserts that teaching needs to become a full-time profession in order to be recognized as such. He believes teachers work a total of five hours (not including lunch or planning periods), and that expanding this work day by two more hours would increase teachers' pay.
Teaching is not just a job, it is a lifestyle. Anyone who has spent time in a classroom realizes that. As a high school English teacher I am at school from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. I have one half hour for lunch and see 150 students a day. After school, three to four hours are spent on preparation and grading.
In addition, usually one day on the weekend is devoted to schoolwork. To the best of my knowledge, most of the 135 teachers at my school have a similar schedule. Where would the additional two hours go?
My greatest concern generated by this article is the perpetuation of negative misconceptions of the public school system, for example, that teachers work short days with three months off in the summer.
It is time for year-round schools - but for some of the other reasons listed in the article. Teachers know how hard they work. We are professionals. We deserve to be recognized instead of being judged by others who really do not know what happens on the front line. Nancy Hallamore, Upland, Calif.
In reality, teachers already work full time and more. Further, the extra weeks in the summer have been valuable time to earn advanced degrees, satisfy state requirements, attend seminars and conferences, and most important, recuperate from the demands of the school year.
Teachers need a change in contractual days and hours for only one purpose: staff development. The many profound changes in instructional theory and curriculum are difficult to address in the midst of an academic year. Ava Gilzow, Ypsilanti, Mich.
Perhaps teachers' positions and salaries would finally rise to the level of "professional" with the changes the author recommends. However, considering the betterment of our students, the "more is better" philosophy works best when what we want more of is good to begin with.
Reformers and researchers today find that our educational system is suited more for the social and economic climate of the early 20th century than the radically different climate we find ourselves in now. The current restructuring movement is abandoning the traditional delivery of education in American classrooms, especially at the secondary level.
Until we improve what we are doing in schools and prepare students for life in the 21st century, more is definitely not better. Daniel Beaupre, Winooski, Vt.
According to the author's logic, a university professor who teaches 12 hours per week must be grossly overpaid. Yet during my 40 years of university teaching I have often thought how nice it would be to work an ordinary eight-hour day, so that I might spend my evenings doing research instead of grading homework or exams.
Let the author be informed that the average teacher works at least 10 hours a day. Let that teacher be paid a decent salary without any increase in workload, and let other teachers be hired to lengthen the school day and the academic year. Peter Yff, Muncie, Ind.