Should districts furlough teachers?

Georgia could save more than $190 million if teachers took six days a year off without pay.
The chairman of the House budget committee on education floated the idea yesterday as a way to help districts struggling during the recession. Rep. Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta) said the savings would go back into systems’ budgets and possibly prevent officials from laying off teachers and other employees.
Other public employees have been forced to take furloughs, including workers at the State Department of Education.
Should teachers face furloughs? What guarantees are there that this would actually save jobs?

61 comments Add your comment

Furlough fan

March 18th, 2009
9:42 am

If he really wants results AND wants to save money have central office administrators take furloughs, so they can stop generating useless paperwork and teachers can actually TEACH.

Has Representative Edward Lindsey offered to take a furlough? Maybe when he does that, he and his cronies will have some credibility.

teach1

March 18th, 2009
9:55 am

Thank you Obama! I am so blessed that I get to give the state another $1824. for additional 6 days off. I am sure that any stimulus plan will not stimulate me more. Please note the sarcasm.

Tony

March 18th, 2009
9:57 am

The use of furloughs or pay reductions should certainly be explored. However it is quite disinginuous for lawmakers to propose such remedies withou regard for the negative impact on children. Even in tough times we must still teach children. Millions could be saved by scrapping our state testing program.

AJ in Hall

March 18th, 2009
10:57 am

Well, since our idiotic Superintendent and his cronies have already laid off over 100 non-tenured teachers in Hall County and didn’t bother to follow their own RIF policy and are coercing them all to resign so they might not get a poor reference, I would have to say no, it won’t save any jobs.

Details about what has gone on and some of the outrage over it can be found on the Gainesbille Times site in the blogs section, on the GA chatboard at teachers.net and at http://www.thehallmonitor.wordpress.com

Really a horrible way to go about things IMHO.

Joy in Teaching

March 18th, 2009
11:07 am

Whatever will be done, will be done. If we have to take furloughs, then so be it.

However, I will say this: if I am forced to take a furlough (as in missing planning days), I will be damned if I do ANY work whatsoever on my own time to prepare or get ready for kids. I mean…I do that anyways. I know very few teachers who put in less than 50 hour weeks between teaching, planning, going to meetings and grading. If my papers don’t get graded then so be it. If my room isn’t ready for kids because they want me to do it on my own time, then so be it.

As Jim D is very fond of pointing out, teachers do not get treated like professionals because we allow things to happen to us. For the most part, he is absolutely correct in that. However, as has been pointed out on this blog ad nauseaum, we do what we have to as a result of being hammered on by the administration, parents, etc. If the state of Georgia doesn’t want to even pretend to pay me for my time, then they get what they get.

Our test scores will go even lower…and teacher morale will begin to be inflicted upon our children. And we will be laughed at even more by the rest of the country.

Leah

March 18th, 2009
11:52 am

Why don’t we get rid of the graduation coaches? I have no idea what they do, but, I know they “earn” too much money!

Harper's Mama

March 18th, 2009
12:23 pm

With education and educators under such scrutiny, I find it difficult to believe that the state is even considering furloughing teachers for six days. We absolutely want what is best for our students and our children, but does the state think it wise to ask teachers who are already over worked and under paid to take on more work in less time? That is asking for some bitter teachers.

Kathy Cox is wrong. It is about money. When she takes the job that she has for the paycheck that I recieve, she can call altruism all she wants. Until that time, she needs to understand that we are in this field for the love of education AND an honest day’s pay. Taking six days from teachers WITHOUT PAY is asking a lot.

jim d

March 18th, 2009
12:33 pm

Joy,

I’ve also stated in the past that Georgia teachers number well over 100,000 and were they to speak with one voice the sound would be an overwhelming din that politicans could not ignore.

Meme

March 18th, 2009
12:45 pm

Our school is blessed to be able to offer everyone continued employment. Our ‘graduation coach’ is going back into the classroom and that position will be eliminated. I hope we are able to keep our nurse. As for the pay cuts, I don’t like it but I can live with it. I just have to tighten my belt a little more. Oh, wait! Since my daughter and her husband both lost their jobs, any extra money is going to them. I will just ask my grandchildren if they can pick 6 days out of the year not to eat.

Joy in Teaching

March 18th, 2009
1:05 pm

Jim D,

When teachers are on their 6 days of furlough, perhaps they should go hang out on the steps of the Capitol with large signs and wearing frowny faces?

jim d

March 18th, 2009
2:11 pm

joy,

or perhaps just calling and writing them would have an impact. Enough individual voices saying the same things will get their attention. 100,000 plus voices represent a lot of votes and while they may not be too concerned with what you are saying they will be concerned with losing that many votes.

lyncoln

March 18th, 2009
2:16 pm

So, if the teachers are on furlough they don’t report and teach, yes?

If that’s the case, how will the students achieve their required by law 180 days of education for the current school year? Maybe the ‘furlough’ takes place during summer months when regular classes aren’t in session, but then what about summer school classes?

I can see the rationale for suggesting a furlough, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. You possibly reduce the education of the future generation to support the current generation. I would hope that other cuts would be considered before this one.

jim d

March 18th, 2009
2:18 pm

Here’s my honest to god thoughts on the furlough thing.

Want to save even more money without affecting teacher morale or salaries? Simply furlough trouble making students out of the public school system!! For everyone you get rid of you will save about $10,000 a year. Teachers will be happy, students that remain will learn, test scores will improve, and Georgia will rise to the top in education.

Harper's Mama

March 18th, 2009
2:26 pm

Lyncoln, teachers are paid for 190 days of service: pre-planning, conference days, post-planning, etc. We are on the job ten more days than the students. What this would mean is that some of those days would be cut.

high school teacher

March 18th, 2009
2:31 pm

I like your thinkin’, jimd. :)

lyncoln, teachers wouldn’t report to work on planning days. We work 10 more days than the students are in school.

I really understand furloughing teachers; state workers have already faced this. However, I wonder if individual districts who have already announced furloughs and pay cuts for next year will re-instate pay, or if some teachers will receive double cuts – one from state, and one from their disctrict.

reality2

March 18th, 2009
2:58 pm

If teachers have to be furloughed, then they have to be. However, that decision should be based on each district’s budget situation – not because other state agencies have done so. If a district manages their budget well enough so that they don’t have to furlough teachers, then they should be praised of good management, not forced to furlough teachers because everyone else is doing it.

Just a teacher

March 18th, 2009
3:28 pm

I am sick! I have watched a proud and productive school system go down the drain every day of this school year. Many of my colleagues are losing their jobs because our school system can’t afford to pay them. They are planning to cut my pay by 3.5% next year, and NOW I am hearing that I might have to take furlough days next year. You have got to be kidding! As a teacher, I work many hours after school and on the weekends. I know that my performance has improved over the years, but the idiots who run education in this state tell me that I am somehow worth less to them than I was 3 years ago. It could be a bad case of the chalkboard flu in Georgia next year. How much good would it do the state’s economy if every teacher in the state came down with this mysterious ailment on the same day?

Joy in Teaching

March 18th, 2009
3:36 pm

@ lyncoln Any furlough that teachers will be required to take will take place on planning days. Teachers generally work 190 days, whild students are in school for 180.

My district tends to have 4 planning days before school starts. These days are packed with butt-numbing meetings. Parent/student open houses usually take place here during these days as well. Teachers spend what precious time they have left setting up their classrooms (gotta have those wonderful word walls!) as well as preparing for instruction.

I have to tell you…those days go by with a blur. I personally don’t know of any teacher who can slide out at 3:00 on those days…and most tend to stay very late trying to get prepared for students. The other planning days take place during the year after each quarter (in order to get report cards taken care of and to prepare for the next quarter) and after students leave for the summer.

We didn’t have a planning day for after third quarter this year because we had students make up a snow day. And, I must say, I’ve missed that planning day as I’ve had to play “catch up” all week as a result.

I honestly couldn’t imagine trying to do this job without those planning days. It is irritating beyond all belief to know that the state would even consider such a thing. Direct instruction of students will definately suffer as a result.

teach1

March 18th, 2009
3:39 pm

Well I guess the schools get to keep the nurses. But the teachers are going to pay the nurse’s salary out of their own pockets.

Thank you for admitting the truth

March 18th, 2009
4:43 pm

Thank you for admitting that planning days aren’t really important. Thank you for admitting that the “training” that WASTES TEACHERS’ TIME isn’t important.

Why not cut the DEADWEIGHT that wastes teachers time with “cure du jour” and then teachers might have 10 days where they could ACTUALLY PLAN, and not listen to some central office “expert” who would most likely wet themselves if they actually had to step into a classroom.

thomas

March 18th, 2009
5:24 pm

I think the idea of furloughs stink. Why is it that the little man is always made to suffer? Our budget will have plenty of money to pay teachers. Don’t forget about the federal stimulus money we are going to get.

ironmaiden

March 18th, 2009
5:27 pm

Fine! But for each day of furlough, cut one instructional day as well, with no reduction in salary. We have seven weeks of babysitting after the CRCT to endure when teaching the kids is like banging your head against a brick wall! And we certainly need some extra time to meet the needs of our own families.

Reality 2

March 18th, 2009
6:02 pm

ironmaiden,

So you are admitting your job is babysitting – why do we have to pay so much for babysitting that can be done by HS students???

ScienceTeacher671

March 18th, 2009
7:22 pm

As a high school teacher, I’m trying to figure out why the seven weeks after the CRCT is “babysitting”, although I suppose it explains why our 9th graders think they should do nothing but watch movies and have parties for the last week or so of school.

I do realize that elementary and middle school teachers are at a bit of a disadvantage, since the ones I know aren’t allowed to fail students regardless of whether the students have passed the CRCT, done any work, etc….and if the teachers fail the student, they seem to get administratively promoted anyway.

Rather than furloughs, I’d vote for trimming the central office staff. We have assistant directors reporting to directors reporting to executive directors reporting to assistant superintendents…some departments seem to be “all chiefs, no Indians” – to use a phrase which probably isn’t politically correct, but is descriptive nonetheless.

Who gets “planning days” now? All we get are “staff development days”….

Lee

March 18th, 2009
8:09 pm

Trimming budgets by ferreting out inefficiencies and waste is a lot of hard work. Trimming budgets by across the board cuts such as this is the easy way out. That’s why it appeals to some.

I was hoping that schools and other government agencies would take the opportunity during this economic downturn to really dig deep within their organizations and eliminate the needless programs, the inefficiencies, and other wasteful spending.

:::: sigh ::::

I was wrong.

Just thinking, I wonder how much schools could save if they didn’t have to hire ESOL teachers and interpretors for the children of illegal aliens? Maybe on your (new) days off next year, y’all teachers could go to the capitol and picket about that.

Just a teacher

March 18th, 2009
8:22 pm

So, since I’ve had time to digest this latest bit of bad news, I’ll try to make a bit more sense out of this whole mess. The government of Georgia is telling you, the citizens who elected them, that they cannot continue to afford to pay competitive teaching salaries to the people who are educating your children. This is not new territory. It follows a continuous pattern of the Perdue administration. This administration was cutting back on promised cost of living rises back when times were good. What do you think they are going to cut back on now? Road construction? State parks? Legislative salaries? Get real. It’s up to the people in the state to stand up and tell the Capitol that educating your children is important. They work for you, after all, just like your children’s teachers do. Make it a priority. You know these kids in our classrooms are the ones who are going to have pay back this stimulus money. Don’t you?

Skewed Priorities

March 18th, 2009
9:02 pm

Here’s a radical thought. Let’s examine the real priority in schools (especially high schools) – SOCIAL TIME! I’m sure I’m not the only teacher who battles students daily about quality learning time instead of worrying about positioning to be noticed. A BIG chunk of change is spent providing for athletic facilities and extracurricular supplies. Why not turn over athletics and marching band to the COMMUNITY. They (parents, etc.) are the primary supporters of these activities. GHSA would not have to call the shots for athlete participation, and I guarantee the best performers would be noticed by colleges and the pros despite. The schools could rent out the existing facilities to the community teams (make money) while the community would be responsible for the upkeep, utilities, and running the site. Folks expect schools to build facilities in which their babies can play, but think about the savings to not have to pay for the upkeep. The savings would surely alleviate the need to furlough our unsung heroes!!

catlady

March 18th, 2009
10:06 pm

Here is what would happen: Teachers would be expected to do the same work by staying late each day, unpaid, and all the meetings we would miss would be shoved down our throats during after school planning time. The state counts on that we will do the same work for no pay.

Sorry. Not me. If I truly have needed these planning days for the last 36 years, I can’t “make them up” by staying even later and adding on my day to day work level. Teachers cannot be treated as dupes forever. Eventually we will quit trying to do our best for the kids, and go into shut down mode. It is very close at my school.

Reality 2

March 18th, 2009
10:16 pm

catlady,

Professionals are usually paid to do their work, not by how many hours they put in. Are teachers professionals or are they just hourly wage workers?

skewed priorities

Do you have any specific numbers to show how much school districts are actually paying for extracurricular activities? As you noted, parents are “the primary supporters of these activities.” Maybe they should let teachers charge each individual students tuitions, and they can pay schools for the use of the facility. That way, teachers can control how many students they want to have in their classes, too.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Evans

March 19th, 2009
1:41 am

Why isn’t the furlough proposal’s impact limited to those teachers in the top-right quadrant of the GA teacher salary scale? These teachers make the most money and would, more often than not, feel less negative financial impact from a salary cut than would their younger, less-experienced and less-highly-certified colleagues whose salaries are drawn from the scale’s lower-left quadrant.

William Casey

March 19th, 2009
10:00 am

I’m a retired history teacher. I call the furlough plan the “Russian army” plan. During WWII, the Soviet army cleared minefields by ordering unarmed troops to march through them. As long as teachers allow it, educational “leaders” will use them as “cannon fodder..” Sad but true.

ugh

March 19th, 2009
12:12 pm

Lee,

In case you haven’t realized it yet, every child in this country has the right to an education. Prejudice does little to help the budget situation. I think if county budgets were examined they would see that schools and districts are top-heavy. Let’s start there before we strangle our teachers yet again with some new “idea”. I know exactly what will happen if they make us furlough. We will still be expected to do exactly the same amount of work, except now it will be on our own time. If furloughs happens, you will see me at the capitol with a sign and a frowny face on.

jim d

March 19th, 2009
1:57 pm

UGH?

“every child in this country has the RIGHT to an education”

They do?? that is the mentallity that has brought down education in this country.

Just a teacher

March 19th, 2009
5:50 pm

Yes, jim d, every child in the United States of America has the right to an education, but there are some instances when they forfeit that right. I am a product of the public school system, and now I’m a public school teacher.

Skewed priorities, you are can not seriously think that classes like marching band and physical education are not part of the curriculum. With the health problems facing our children, PE is a necessity. As for Band class, when you kill the arts in schools, you won’t have anything worth learning to read or write about. There is a reason for teaching the Humanities: it’s teaching children to be part of the human race.

loves to read

March 19th, 2009
7:16 pm

My county has 4 pre-planning days, and 3 post-planning days. Most of us work a week on our own time before pre-planning anyway, but I sure as heck won’t do both if I’m not being paid. Sometimes we have to attend these lame day long “retreats” that we all hate because we are thinking of how much more we need to do. They pile on so much work and meetings during pre-planning that we are forced to come in for a week on our own time just to get it all done. Morale is so low at our school now that a furlough will make it rock bottom. Admin. will expect us to be there anyway, but I don’t see how they can enforce it.

Alice

March 19th, 2009
10:34 pm

Catlady – do you mean to say that in all your 36 years of teaching you didn’t copy even one class syllabus, lesson plans, tests, quizzes etc from one year to the next?
And all you other teachers – tell me you don’t just pick up ‘help’ from the internet. I’ve seen it happen. Some teachers think it’s great to copy someone elses’ work – it saves them time.
I’m just way too cynical a parent to think teachers a all heads-down planning and working out fresh new classes each time the’s one of these days off. Just tell the truth – you don’t work all those days.
And I’ll tell the truth – I’m a bit envious of the forced days of planning – I could use that in my job.
No matter what, I do believe I should be paid for my effort and it is only right for teachers to be paid for their efforts.
If you could separate the facts of employment from situational frustrations of your occupation it would be easier for me to accept the complaints.
In other words, learn how to communicate the facts clearly without the noise. The whining does get a bit wearing after a while.

taxpayer

March 20th, 2009
6:43 am

So teachers are admitting their work isn’t much more than babysitting – at least after the state testing – and those planning days are waste. So, why are we paying them so much? As a taxpayer, I’m not happy we are paying these people for doing (almost) nothing.

taxpayer

March 20th, 2009
8:34 am

If what teachers do is nothing more than babysitting (at least after the state tests) and all those planning days are waste, why are we paying them so much? As a taxpayer, I am outraged. We should only pay for what they are doing – replace them with someone who work for much less.

Meme

March 20th, 2009
9:09 am

My contract says that I am to work 190 days. I don’t mind working those days. I come in at 6:30am and some days don’t leave until 7:00pm. I have no complaints about that. However, I do not plan to come and work on the days that I am not paid to do so. I know that there are teachers that come and set up their classrooms before preplanning. I have been at this for 34 years and I don’t find it necessary. Some people (and I am including some of my relatives who think I don’t really work) complain that we should come in and do what is necessary. I just ask them if they would go in to work and not get paid. Most of them keep their mouths shut.

fedup

March 20th, 2009
2:02 pm

Why not look at all the salaries being paid to high school and middle school graduation coaches? Good Ole Sonny would never admit his idea has cost the state lots of $$$$$. The $$$ put into these positions could have been spent more wisely. Maybe education would not be so bad off had he not added one for every middle and high school in the state. Thanks Sonny!

Reality 2

March 21st, 2009
2:56 pm

fedup,

How many graduation coaches are there? It’s only one coach per middle/high school, correct? How much do their salaries compared to the total amount “saved” by 6 furlough days of all teachers (and administrators, let’s hope)? Besides, if those coaches were full-time teachers, they can probably go back to full-time teaching positions, can’t they? That means the amount of saving from eliminating coaches will be more like whatever beginning teachers are making since they are the ones that most likely to be let go.

go sonny!

March 21st, 2009
6:03 pm

This is an outrage. You guys–teachers– are so greedy and have been spoiled this whole time. You get the whole summer off and you have no reason to complain about your pay. You treat your job like a social event and there is hardly any teaching going on. I’m in favor of furloughs, unless paid teacher work days can be used to educate teachers, mainly in the subject of spelling. Some cannot even remember the “i before e, except after c” rule. How can teachers take off points for spelling, if they cannot spell themselves? It seems like the standards for teachers are not very high.

Skewed Priorities

March 22nd, 2009
8:43 am

Just a Teacher –
“Marching Band” is not recognized as an approved course by the DOE. Marching Band is an extracurricular activity that supports primarily football, which is also not a recognized course…also an extracurricular activity. All sports teams are extracurricular activities. PE and music classes would not be dropped from the curriculum, only the extracurricular activities that are available for students involved in either.

ScienceTeacher671

March 22nd, 2009
6:11 pm

go sonny! you absolutely need to be in a classroom somewhere, to help upgrade the quality of the teaching corps.

Teacher in South Georgia

March 22nd, 2009
9:31 pm

I am a teacher in South Georgia and our county doesn’t even provide us a supplement, like most of the counties do. I’m not opposed to schools cutting back to save money but where they need to start is in the board offices! Our tiny little county has several “administrators” in the board office making 6 figure salaries and performing jobs that they get paid full time pay for which actually require part time work. One of those jobs would be enough for 3 teacher salaries. I can’t stand to hear people make comments about teachers making enough when I’ve worked 17 years and still only bring home less than $35K a year. That is pathetic. I am a single mother with kids in college and can’t afford to give up 6 days worth of my salary. A teacher’s job is very important, much more so than having so many useless jobs in administration. By cutting teachers and furloughing, the students are the ones who will suffer.

Veteran Teacher

March 23rd, 2009
6:20 pm

Alice — Yes, as a teacher I have used the resources of others, such as those that can be found on the internet. BUT — it still requires my time to search those resources, check them out against my students’ needs (after I’ve analyzed their work and my assessments to see what they need) and make those resources fit. And yes, I REALLY DO work all those days — and then some.

IRONMAIDEN — If you think your job is babysitting, go find another career. You are doing us all a disservice. I don’t know about you, but after CRCT I am RIGHT BACK AT IT — teaching and making sure that my students are prepared with the skills they need! And, if I feel that they have mastered all of the grade level content, I start with the next year’s standards to give the kids a leg up on what’s coming. I am horribly offended by your comment. GO SONNY — when was the last time you were actually in a school? Come spend a day with me — you’ll be exhausted just watching.

[...] (Who will get furloughed is still being determined. The superintendent says she wants to avoid taking days away from teachers.) What do you think of schools cutting back on testing to save money? Which tests could they get [...]

luvs2teach

March 25th, 2009
11:14 pm

To Alice about your March 19th, 2009 10:34 pm post…

Don’t know if you’re still checking in on this post, but I had to respond to some of your comments because they clearly demonstrate a lack of knowledge of what teaching is.

Gone are the old days of teachers reusing year after year the infamous tests stored in an old file cabinet (and often shown being stolen in some cliche of a movie). Lesson plans are difficult to reuse word for word year after year – ditto syllabi. The reasons why are myriad, but at the very least include the fact that one is not teaching the same kids year after year. Standards change – textbooks change – knowledge changes (Pluto no longer a planet, anyone?) – add to that the modern educrats penchant for the latest packaged cure-du-jour, and you are often asked year after year to rework even those few perfectly reusable lessons.

As far as teachers using the internet – so what? What’s your point there? We make use of the technology’s ability to foster collaboration and that’s a BAD thing? The majority of the time most things off the internet are not classroom-ready without some tweaks anyway – it doesn’t really save me time, but it does expand my “toolbox.”

One thing you clearly don’t understand is how much of our “planning time” is taken up with meetings and so-called staff development. That week before school starts? We’re lucky to have 8 hours out of that week to work in our rooms, preparing lessons, getting the room ready, whatever. Don’t be envious of our “forced planning time” spent in one redundant meeting after another. You’re right – you shouldn’t believe that we “are all heads-down planning and working out fresh new classes each time there’s one of these days off.” We’re not. We’re sitting in staff development classes or meetings. Check your district’s internal calendar – if you see a teacher work day listed as a “professional learning day” the teachers aren’t going to be in their classrooms.

I’m also curious about just how much time people think we’re getting – my county gets a week before school starts – one of those days is earmarked for county-wide staff development. One of those days is meet and greet (not all day, but the entire day is devoted to being ready for it). The first day is usually filled with welcome back meetings. The last day is filled with last minute let’s-be-ready meetings. That leaves about one day to get your room and first week’s lesson ready. I’ve been at two schools under three principals and it’s about the same.

Then we have three workdays during the year – two are county-wide professional learning and the one before conference week is spent getting ready for conferences (you know, calling the parents who couldn’t be bothered to return the conference form, among other things). Finally we have three after the year ends – we need to clean our rooms, pack stuff up, and prepare report cards for mailing. I’m not seeing all this extra time you think we have. Furlough me, but get rid of some of the time spent in meetings, then I’ll be happy.

Alice – I haven’t always been a teacher – I worked in the “real world” and I had certain ideas about how it was going to be – you have no clue how much greener the grass is from the other side of the school yard fence. complain about our daily planning time and I’ll remind you about productivity studies that show the average American office worker wastes about 2 hours a days on company time – I wish I had that time to waste.

GA teacher

March 27th, 2009
8:53 pm

luvs2teach–THANK YOU!!! You said everything I wanted to as I was reading through some of these posts. It is unbelievable how people who’ve never had the responsibility of managing a classroom think that we have it so easy. I love my job and I can’t imagine doing anything else. That being said, it’s also extremely exhausting. They wouldn’t last a day in our shoes!!!

Meme

March 30th, 2009
9:02 am

Better furloughed than fired! Excuse me, not having your contract renewed.