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March 03, 2011

Long Days, Growing Challenges

Author: NYSUT Communications

Public education naysayers and some in the punch-the-clock crowd have long made it a practice of criticizing teachers for the hours they put in on the job. We’ve all heard it: Teachers, they contend, are out of the classroom promptly at 3 pm, enjoy every holiday at home and have summers off.

We know it’s all nonsense but now a new poll supports our position that educators work as hard — or harder — than just about anyone.

According to just-released survey conducted on EdVoices, the National Education Association’s blogging community, almost half of the nation’s teachers said they work more than 20 hours per week outside of the classroom. And another 31 percent said they work from 11-20 extra hours.

Again, it’s nothing that those in the education community haven’t known all along. But it’s nice to have teachers’ hard work reaffirmed and recognized.

Here’s the full report from former NYSUT staffer Kevin Hart, now with the NEA, one of NYSUT’s national affiliates:

Long Days, Growing Challenges

January 7, 2011
By Kevin Hart

There’s an old saying that a teacher’s work is never done — and a new poll on teacher work hours seems to prove it.

While the average school day in America may last from 7-8 hours, the real work day for many teachers begins before the sun rises and ends well into the evening, as lessons are prepared, papers and tests are graded, and parents are contacted.

According to a recent poll conducted on EdVoices, the National Education Association’s blogging community, roughly 46 percent of teachers said they work more than 20 hours per week outside of the classroom. Nearly 31 percent said they work from 11-20 hours.

That means more than three quarters of respondents are putting in at least 11 hours of extra work each week, and nearly half of respondents are working an additional four hours or more each day outside the classroom.

Teachers from across the country recently discussed their hectic schedules on the EdVoices Facebook page. Missouri teacher Tina Queen said she is regularly working more than 60 hours per week, with much of that work coming outside the classroom.

“Most days, in by 7:30 and out at 5:30, not counting what I take home,” she said. “And only 20 minutes for lunch, if that!”

Teachers say they’re willing to go the extra mile for students. The problem is that many states are implementing draconian cuts to education, causing class sizes to balloon. There are more papers to grade and more children to care for – but no more hours in the day.

“This year … I’ve put in 16 additional hours every weekend since August,” said teacher Elizabeth Mays. “That comes to 34 additional days I’ve put in this semester.”

“During report card time, I work, on average, 30 extra hours per week unpaid for two solid weeks, three times per year,” added Washington teacher Camille Louie Yuasa. “If you look at our annual salary, it does not take the sting out of all those extra unpaid hours. Many teachers who support a family of four qualify for free or reduced lunch for their own children.”