Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Balanced Calendar and Steve Gill

Yesterday morning on my way to school I listened to the Steve Gill Show on WTN, 99.7. I have to admit that my feelings were hurt. Steve was talking about Williamson County School's consideration of a balanced calendar. Steve does not like the idea.

A few weeks ago every school in our district had a mandatory faculty meeting where the proposed calendar was presented and we were given the opportunity to express our feelings about it and vote on it. The vote turned out in favor of it. Elementary teachers tended to vote for it. High school teachers tended to vote against it. The majority of the arguments against the balanced calendar centered around how it would affect high school athletic programs and band camp, and how it might negatively impact scores on college entrance exams.

Steve raged on about how our director was trying to push things through without giving anyone other than teachers the opportunity for input. Quite simply, he didn't know what he was talking about. After the teachers voted, there was more discussion and then meetings were set up to get parent and community input. Via our new phone communication system, each family with children in the school system was notified of the proposal and how they could voice their views about it. A discussion board was set up weeks ago for teachers and administrators to debate the pros and cons of it. All along it was stressed that the proposal was simply that - a proposal. Not a done deal. The school district wanted discussion and input in order to make an informed and fair decision.

It's fine to believe that a balanced calendar is a bad idea. There are many teachers who feel the same way. Here's where Steve went too far, though. He went into a rant about how STUPID the teachers must be if they thought this NITWIT idea would result in fewer days of school. There isn't a single teacher who believes that we would get more days off with the proposed calendar. We are intelligent, well educated people who work exceptionally hard at our jobs. Most of us could make much more money and have more opportunity for advancement if we had gone into another field. However, we chose teaching because we care about children and want to make a positive difference in their lives.

Another of Steve's rants was about how many days off teachers get. He feels that teachers get too much time off. Remember the old joke: What are the three best reasons for being a teacher? June, July, and August! First of all, this past year teachers were back at school the first week in August. Secondly, teachers are ten-month employees. We are not paid for those two months off in the summer although most of us work many days during that time without pay.

So, lay off the teachers, Steve. The balanced calendar is a proposal, and everyone in the community has the opportunity to provide input. It isn't being forced on anyone. It has been proposed, and now it is being discussed and debated. The final decision will be based on that discussion and debate.

1 comment:

Steve Gill said...

Thanks for the mention, but perhaps your math is a little off when it comes to teacher work days each year. Tennessee state law requires 180 days of instruction, and also provides for about another 10 days of in-service days by teachers. That comes to 190 work days per year. Oh, but the law also gives teachers 10 days of vacation from that required set of work days, giving us the figure of 180 days a year. That comes out to about 9 months a year.


Math can be pretty simple, if you break it down.

And as to not being paid for the months you don't work, that pretty much holds true for most folks. You don't get paid when you don't work. Nevertheless, the average teacher pay in Tennessee is higher than the average pay for most Tennesseans, who work ALL YEAR. There are great teachers who get paid much less than they deserve, while others get paid much more than they deserve. You can thank the teachers union for that.

Finally, the survey of teachers that led to the proposed balanced calendar clearly implied that teachers would get more time off. And the primary argument for the plan has been to give teachers "more time off." It won't, but apparently a lot of your fellow teachers bought into the idea.

We will be talking about this topic Tuesday morning, and you are welcome to chime in.

Steve Gill