In New Jersey, public schools close for two days every November in order to hold a huge teacher’s convention in Atlantic City.  I am not sure exactly how many years the convention has been in place, but even as a kid I remember school being closed the first Thursday and Friday of November.  Last year, because of the hurricane that destroyed a large part of the Jersey Shore, it was canceled.  This year, it is back.  I did not go.  I have seen numerous comments about why teachers need this “time off.”  A friend posted something on Facebook today, and with absolutely no malice to her, I had to share it here.  She was wondering how many teachers actually go to the convention.  To be quite honest, I do not know that statistic.  There were several light hearted comments on her Facebook thread, mostly just conversation.  I stayed out of it until I read one comment that I just could not sit back and not respond to.  I will very rarely ever comment on any educational posts.  I keep all political comments to myself as well.  I know that some things are best to not put in writing, but I could not let it go.  I apologized to my friend who started the original post – and she in turn wrote privately to me that she never meant to start anything negative about teachers, (which I never thought was her intention.)

This was the post from someone I do not know….“I never understood this (regarding the convention and two days off.)   Most of the working world gets the equivalent of 4 to 8 weeks off a year ( 10 paid holidays and 2 to 6 weeks of vacation). New Jersey Teachers get 17 weeks off. I could never understand why, with summers and school holidays, they need to interrupt the school year with an additional 2 days off to attend a convention. Why can’t that convention be scheduled during winter or spring break, or during the summer. I have relatives and friends who teach in many other states and they have never heard of such a thing.”

I had to respond.  I do NOT get my summers off.  Since my school year is a ten month year, I get paid only during those ten months.  I have to get a summer job every year to financially support my family.  I do not get to go on vacations every summer.  Many of my coworkers have to work two jobs in order to support themselves.  Not to mention the hours of work that we bring home from work everyday and every weekend.  We don’t get paid for that extra time.

In order to attend the NJ Convention, (which I truly would like to take advantage of at some time,) I would have to pay my own way, it is two hours away so I’d need to pay for a hotel room and pay for any courses that I’d want to take.  This also doesn’t take into account that many teachers who would like to attend, also have to arrange for childcare for their own children who are also off from school during these days.

I know that she is not alone in her thinking, as I have seen from other postings.  Teachers don’t have it easy.  I would never say that my job is more difficult than any other person’s BUT it is so discouraging to hear that people make comments like this without knowing how it really is.  Teachers are not “raking in the dough”, making six figure salaries.  Getting to work daily at 7:30 and leaving at 5 does not equal that typical “8:30-3:30” school day so many people think we have.  I put in more than 45 hours a week JUST at school.  Not to mention the hours I spend working at home.  This is typical of most teachers I know.

I am not writing this to pat myself on the back.  Not my point at all.  I just wish that people knew just how hard some of us work to make sure that their children, who we spend hours with every week, are being educated, loved and cared for every day of those 180 days they are in our care.

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