Saturday school for teachers: Snow job or good idea?

Why is Barrow summoning teachers to school on a Saturday to make up a snow day, but not students?  Brant Sanderlin bsanderlin@ajc.com

Why is Barrow summoning teachers to school on a Saturday to make up a snow day, but not students? Brant Sanderlin bsanderlin@ajc.com

A reader sent me this note: I work for Barrow County Schools, and we found out this week that we will be required to report to school (teachers only) on a Saturday to make up for time missed due to the snow. I wanted to know if you have ever heard of this before? I do not really mind coming in that day, but I do worry about our new superintendent setting such a precedent without ever seeking the teacher’s input.

I have never heard of this before, and wonder how teachers feel about it? Barrow plans to bring students back to school on three days that they were scheduled to be off, Feb. 18 and 21 and March 11.  But because Friday, 11th, was supposed to be a teacher work day devoted to report cards, teachers will also have to show up on Saturday, March 12.

There certainly is a hodgepodge of plans by local systems to make up the days lost to snow.(Still waiting to see what my system will do. No word yet in Decatur.)

My least favorite solution is the hour extra planned by Marietta. (Along with holding school on March 14 and 15, the system will add one hour to the school day over a 13-day period, Jan. 31-Feb. 4; March 7-11 and March 14-16.)  I just don’t think those added hours are the equivalent of a full day of school in terms of student learning.

Should there be a state policy on how systems can make up snow days? Or, should systems have the freedom to recover the lost days an hour at a time?

–By Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

62 comments Add your comment

just watching

January 21st, 2011
10:06 pm

The extra hour thing is really bizarre to me. It will really mess up after school activities that some students participate in off campus. And will they also be making teachers stay longer those days? If so, it could cause issues with the child care arrangements for their child(ren).

I’m with you…hours tacked on to several days is not equivalent to just adding a day (whether it be “recovering” a holiday or adding it to the end of the year). Kids not used to extended days will have difficulty with it. I’d be curious to see an analysis of discipline referrals during those weeks.

Katrina

January 21st, 2011
10:15 pm

I like how Carroll County is handling it. They added an extra 14 minutes to the day starting on 1/31 for the rest of the year, changed two vacation days-2/18 and 3/10-to school days, and converted one vacation day-3/11-to a teacher work day.

ScienceTeacher671

January 21st, 2011
10:28 pm

We did a faculty makeup for a hurricane evacuation day on Saturday once, many years ago. Worst thing for morale in history. All personnel were required to be at work, regardless of previous commitments, except for the superintendent, whose bright idea it was.

He was out of town, because he already had tickets for the big college football game that weekend.

ScienceTeacher671

January 21st, 2011
10:42 pm

Also had a student makeup day for the hurricane evacuation, can’t remember now whether it was on Saturday or a previously scheduled holiday. 2/3 of the students were absent (”Please excuse Johnny for not being at school Saturday, he was sick”), but we did hold school.

WarrobTeacher1979

January 21st, 2011
10:57 pm

I’m from Barrow and many of us have wondered why not simply add another post-planning day at the end of the school year? There’s always so much to do at the end of the school year–report cards, record-keeping, cleaning room, etc. Showing up on a Saturday does nothing to help morale and cuts into valuable family time. Teachers are already dealing with furlough pay-cuts, increasingly larger class sizes, and many of us work late into the evening at school and at home to begin with. Some outsiders may call it petty worrying about going in for one Saturday, but like the reader said, “I do worry about our new superintendent setting such a precedent without ever seeking the teachers’ input.”

teacher2

January 21st, 2011
11:07 pm

Who needs a 6 day work week! Bad idea! The Barrow super must not think think through very well.

GrandPuba

January 21st, 2011
11:22 pm

I’ve never the seen impuitus of the modern-day teacher put in words like this, but its not surprising to me. The teachers hours are the main draw for the profession. It can’t be for the money, right? It’s certainly not the real job at hand. See degradation of our society. I think teachers should have work year round. Sure you can have weeks of at time through out the year, but the job should require year round attention. This is the only way to weed the majority of the loser-teachers. So yeah give me a break.

EdDawg

January 21st, 2011
11:27 pm

Do you mean impetus, Grand Puba? I guess you wouldn’t make the cut even as a loser-teacher, then.

My Two Cents

January 21st, 2011
11:58 pm

Hello, Grand Puba!

This weekend, I brought home 2 tote bags full of papers to grade, implementation plans to update, and data to graph. I have taken work home every night this week, attended 2 teacher inservices, worked four 10 hour days, and I don’t have a planning period because I teach multiple grade levels. You know what? I’m fine with that. I’m fine with working on a Saturday as well, because I normally would be doing something work related for part of that day anyway…at least I’ll be able to get into my classroom and the workrooms. I love my job and I want to do it well.

I am not ok with school districts mandating a specific Saturday or non-contract day for a make-up. Though I don’t live the most exciting life, I do still try to live one and make the most of my personal time. It is my hope that teachers will be consulted about potential Saturdays or given a chance to select from a list of days. A few years ago, we were allowed to vote on different calendars for the upcoming school year, and it boosted morale significantly.

Also, I am not ok with those not in the know assuming that teachers do not pay attention to their jobs all year round. Have you ever had to completely unpack a classroom in 1 day? When we get furloughed during planning, we are working during those summers so many others assume are full of mimosas and down time.

We are human. We should be allowed to vent without someone saying that we are petulant, “loser-teachers”, or part of the “degradation of society.” (I think that is what you implied, your post was unclear and relatively hard to follow due to grammar and spelling errors.)

eddawg

January 22nd, 2011
12:11 am

Well-stated, TwoCents.

teacher

January 22nd, 2011
1:09 am

Check out Douglas County policy for making up the days. I am seriously loving it. The new superintendent, Dr. Gordon Pritz, seems to be on the ball and very respectful to the profession and to parents and students. I have to document some of the hours I put in outside of school contract hours to make up for the teacher work days we lost. I’ll be attending a Reading Bowl tomorrow (Saturday) and supporting my students….and I’ll document that even though I would have gone anyway.

TheRog

January 22nd, 2011
6:45 am

If only the teachers in Georgia had a strong teachers union to help negotiate things like a school calendar.

I know, I know… teachers unions are bad according to the conventional wisdom.

However one of the many advantages of having a teacher union negotiate a contract is the school calendar. The union and the administration must agree on the calendar including such things as teacher work days, staff development days (and yes, there is a difference), student breaks, and makeup days.

If teachers in Georgia only had a decent contract, then administrators and politicians couldn’t be playing games with how missed school days will be made up.

I taught in Georgia for 10 years and now I have taught in Michigan for 20 years. People don’t realize the importance of having a union contract for teachers. It’s not just about the money, its the little things that are spelled out in a contract that prevents teachers from being jerked around by administrators and politicians.

Ole Guy

January 22nd, 2011
8:31 am

Listen up Sci Teach, Two Cents, and the entire teacher corps. DO NOT EVER allow some poop for brains associate your profession with “loser teacher”. This is tantamount to labeling the pilot a loser simply for flying through bumpy weather and making the passengers strap in. When I was flying, any non-rated sob who would have labeled me as a loser in my trade would have been pitched off MY aeroplane PDQ.

Rog, you echo my sentiments right on the button. You people need to gain control of your professional lives. Two cents, you, and many of your peers, seem content to express denial…I don’t mind going in on Saturdays cause’, heck fire, I’d be doing some work-related stuff anyhew. DO NOT take this personaly, Two Cents, but many, within your profession, seem content to assume the role of educational myrtr. By these, and similar comments, you are, in effect, laying your heads upon the sacrificial alter of the educational elites…THANK YOU, SIR, MAY I HAVE ANOTHER. “that’s ok, Mr Super, I’ll forgo my family plans and come in this weekend, as you wish. And, Mr Super, you enjoy that out-of-town football game…hear? Your leadership by example is not required. While YOU continue with your personal plans, we’ll be cowering over at the shop following your commands (lest we piss you off, and then, oh boy, watch out). Am I right, Sci Teach? How much longer are you folks going to allow this nonesense, all-the-while pretending/convincing yourselves that all is well. Perhaps it is this very approach you (collectively) seem to adhere to which, in the shallow estimation of others, earns you the nom de guere “loser teacher”. I know better…I’ve been there…I’ve, in professional tact, told the powers that be to go to hell, to GF. And I’m a hell of a lot better off for it today.

Well, for the umpteenth time, you (all) know what you need to do. Ain’t no one’s gonna take you by the hand and lead you through the process of collective bargaining. The powers that be will say “you can’t do that…that’s BAD…don’t piss me off lest you face the unpleasantry of my rath, etc, ad nauseum”. You’re all adults…you know what you need to do.

Aline

January 22nd, 2011
8:36 am

What about your union contract?

ChristieS

January 22nd, 2011
8:51 am

Aline, what? What union contract?

JAT

January 22nd, 2011
8:51 am

There are several teachers that I know in my county that have 2nd jobs which help to make up for lost income (furloughs, no raises, etc.). Many are waitresses, work retail or work as handy men (painting, etc.).

I’m sure that Barrow County has some teachers that also have 2nd jobs.

I wonder how they will handle the conflict?

catlady

January 22nd, 2011
9:05 am

Barrow County can get itself into a lot of trouble. There ARE people who celebrate the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. They cannot be required to work, nor retribution taken for not working, on the Sabbath. The assumption they want to make it that everyone trots off to church on Sunday. Maybe in the old days that was true.

Cannot speak of other systems, but we already work (as do the children) hours extra per week in active, diadactic instruction (beyond what the state requires for instructional time). I cannot see how, in situations like that, the school systems or the state can require additional “make up” time, when we put in DAYS extra each month above and beyond. Not, of course, mentioning the unpaid hours teachers put in beyond the school day–some of it required to do a good job, some of it required by the school. Is it for babysitting?

See, the state has all kinds of room for “flexibility.” It cuts both ways.

NWGA teacher

January 22nd, 2011
9:05 am

Ole Guy, thank you, and I wish we knew where to begin/had leadership, etc. I think most of us would support a union. Personally, I don’t have that kind of get-up-and-go (leadership). At this point in my life, I’m far too afraid of being out on the streets with my child.

Aline, we keep telling everyone: There Is No Teacher’s Union in Georgia, and the contracts are worthless without a union. My contract did not even include a salary.

Kentucky Teacher

January 22nd, 2011
9:38 am

In the mountains of southeastern Kentucky, we usually have 20 snow days at the least to make up each year. So we have gone on Saturdays, added time to our days, not had spring breaks, and we still go from August 1st until June 3rd. State law says we cannot go before August 1st nor after June 30th. This year, we have already missed 17 days and the worst of our winter hasn’t happened yet. This may be the first year we have to go past the first week of June to get in the days required. So, forgive me if I say you have it made in Georgia if one Saturday and a few other days is all you have to give up.

Lee

January 22nd, 2011
9:41 am

Way back when common sense ruled public schools, they simply tacked on the additional days to the end of the school year.

It’s very telling as to the state of our school systems when they cannot even figure out how to make up a few snow days without screwing it up….

mommamonster

January 22nd, 2011
9:53 am

Does anyone know what it would take to even BEGIN to look into unionizing here? An admin I worked for a couple of years ago during CRCT summer school (no money for that now) was working on his doctorate and was from the North. His dissertation topic was that Union states had a higher level of achievement than Non-Union ones. A) Is this the case? (generally, of course-no absolutes) and B) Why is Georgia so bass-ackwards (<—-my Popsie's terminology) and anti-Union?

Retired teacher

January 22nd, 2011
10:12 am

Just take a sick day that Saturday.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming.

January 22nd, 2011
10:31 am

Several teachers at my school go into school on Saturdays anyway, just to get all the work done that we are required to do.

At least teachers would get paid for “this” Saturday.

Ole Guy

January 22nd, 2011
10:43 am

Aline, my public school teaching days were both long long ago and somewhat short-lived. Having pushed aeroplanes around for most of my adult (if you can include 18 y/o WOC as adult) life, I decided to try teaching as a mid-life career change. Having earned both BS/MS degrees, my only requirements were a few ed courses. Upon seeing, first hand, the realities of teaching (can’t do this, can’t do that, and, for cryin out loud, never never…), I had to reconsider my objectives. Having always had at least a modicum of control on my daily deeds, I quickly realized that “going into battle, on a daily basis, without so much as a sword and shield” was definitely not my calling. The sad thing, however, is the very fact that public education has degenerated into the “sword and shield” endeavour it appears to have become. My very nature, both in the Military and in the civilian environs, has always been of the “thrust and parry/take no sh_t variety”. Even in my post-retirement job, I enjoy this type of human interaction which, as I recall (accurately or not) existed during the so-called old days of the 60s.

So, Aline, I do not/have never functioned under a union contract. I have had to “hang it all out”, on occasion, trusting my “golden tongue of political persuasion” more than once. So when it comes to my admonitions for organization, I suppose you can say I don’t speak from experience. However, when I see a burning structure, I do not need the experience of having been a fire victim in order to call 911. I see YOUR professional structure ablaze and no one, within YOUR profession, seems to want to be bothered with calling the “911 of professional organization”.

NWGA Teach, I understand your situation. My “discovery” was from the basis of mid-life. Options were available, and the “get up and go” was most-certainly on high RPM. However, I truly believe, for the benefit of your profession and your profession’s objective…to prep youth for a demanding, and not always kind, future…someone somewhere had better pick up the baton and run like hell.

To teachers everywhere…Godspeed!

ScienceTeacher671

January 22nd, 2011
10:49 am

I would guess that AFT or GAE officials would be the most likely to have a framework for unionization – what is involved, and what would prevent it, etc. I certainly wouldn’t look to PAGE for that.

Supposedly the General Assembly would have to take some action to legalize unionization?

While it might be possible to start a totally new organization, rather than relying on the national unions, my opinion is that it would be a much more difficult proposition, rather like starting a 3rd political party and having it win a presidential election – possible, not probable except under extreme circumstances. Of course, it’s quickly getting extreme in Georgia…

Lee

January 22nd, 2011
10:50 am

@mommamonster, Ga is a Right to Work state and also, if I am not mistaken, public works employees are forbidden by law from collective bargaining agreements. For teachers to unionize, that would probably require a constitutional amendment and I just don’t think the majority of voters would go along with that.

just watching

January 22nd, 2011
10:52 am

To unionize in G a it would that a change in law at the state level. I believe state employees are not legally allowed to unionize. And teachers , though the work for the district are somehow still considered state employees.

Just Let Me Teach

January 22nd, 2011
10:57 am

I will not go in on a Saturday. Period. I brought home a huge bag full of grading to do, and I will be doing it this afternoon from the comfort of my couch. However, if the think they are going to tell me I must come in on Saturday to “make up” (sorry folks- I’ve already made it up many times over) for some snow day, they have another think coming.

And Aline, there is no teacher’s union in Georgia. Teacher contracts are not legally enforceable in Georgia.

Tony

January 22nd, 2011
11:05 am

Barrow has made a very bad decision by requiring teachers to work on a saturday. To all of you who think we only work 6.5 hours a day and get 3 months off in the summer – please get real. Nearly every educator I know puts in at least 10 hours a day and takes work home on the weekend. My guess is that since the Barrow county teachers will be required to work on a saturday, they will also be forced to sit in meetings to prove they are “working”. This is a huge waste of the teachers’ time.

Old Timer Educator

January 22nd, 2011
11:26 am

The old wisdom always was make no plans that can’t be broken the first couple of weeks after school ends – because things always pop up. I’m originally from Florida – and it seems hurricanes were a lot more common for our region back then. All the families knew that if we had to take days off for hurricanes that we’d make them up at the end of the year. End of discussion. There is something to be said for the “good old days.” The Georgia school systems have 9-10 weeks off every summer, which gives them more than enough time to make up missed days.

Requiring kids and teachers to go to school on Saturday is ill advised. First of all, there is the religious freedom involved. There are large segments of the Judeo-Christian community that worship on Saturday and they should never be asked to give up their Sabbath for school. Second is the whole issue of letting the body rest. Kids will do a better job learning, teachers will do a better job teaching if they’re not exhausted. I don’t know of a teacher that I’ve met or worked with over the last 20+ years that wasn’t physically done in at the week. Add another day to it? Ludicrous.

I also think taking the holiday “days” during the year is a bad idea, too. Of course, I totally support a more year-round school year, with a week or two off at the end of every 9-week period. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if teachers, students, and their families could actually take a vacation when it wasn’t so hot outside that you didn’t feel like doing anything?

My .02 for the surrounding school boards – leave the weekends alone, don’t touch spring break, adding extra minutes to the school day aren’t going to make up for what was missed, and give the kids back their holidays. It’s not going to hurt anyone to go to school until June 5th! Anyone who already has non-refundable reservations could be allowed by the school systems to work something out.

Why do they have to make everything so hard?

Old Timer Educator

January 22nd, 2011
11:28 am

EDIT: I don’t know of a teacher that I’ve met or worked with over the last 20+ years that wasn’t physically done in at the week. Add another day to it?

Should read “…done in at the end of the week.”

Old Timer Educator

January 22nd, 2011
11:31 am

One more edit (sheesh!)

adding extra minutes to the school day aren’t going to make up for what was missed

Make that “isn’t” going to make up

Kelly

January 22nd, 2011
12:12 pm

I work for a district in MO and the students and teachers had to go on 2 different Saturdays to make up for snow days. It was no fun and all of the students showed up.

TheRog

January 22nd, 2011
12:13 pm

@ “Old Timer Educator”… I recently came up with a “wild idea” of a 11 month school calendar that would provide almost every Wednesday as a work day so teachers wouldn’t burn out so easily.

I know it will never happen, but I figured it’s worth considering and debating.

You can check it out at the following URL:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/47213029/MyProposedCalendar

Old Teacher

January 22nd, 2011
12:22 pm

My school system added an hour to the end of the school day one year. I taught first grade at the time. It was nothing but babysitting! The students were too tired to produce any quality work. The teachers weren’t much better either!

My Two Cents

January 22nd, 2011
12:41 pm

@Ole Guy – not taking it personally. I know that the first step towards change is taking a stand. At this point, you’re right…I am content to state my diasgreement, because I’m still trying to figure out the most effective way to take action and still keep my job safe. Ah, the Catch-22. :)

I just had to respond to the person who thought teachers who didn’t want mandatory Sat. reporting were whiny, lazy losers. :)

Michael

January 22nd, 2011
1:25 pm

As soon as I see “no teacher input…” I immediately have a firm opinion of the Supt. Power and control as usual. You’d think they’d get it by now and at least go through the motions.

LA teacher 2

January 22nd, 2011
2:08 pm

Fayette County teachers were also told there’d be no make up day…that they work way more than 40 hours a week, and that would be sufficient for making up the workdays. I hope GCPS does the same thing…am currently working my way through a stack of 120 essays. This will consume my entire weekend.

Inman Park Boy

January 22nd, 2011
2:12 pm

So what? You missed a day (for which you will be paid), so why not make it up on a Saturday? Teachers amaze me.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming.

January 22nd, 2011
3:15 pm

I figure I already made up any missed day, as I stayed till approximately 5:30 every day last week. That was 10 hours over my time… made up and then some. That happens frequently. The system gets many more hours out of me than they pay me for…but The Powers That be likely won’t see it that way….

Just Let Me Teach

January 22nd, 2011
3:32 pm

Inman Park Boy- Because we’ve already made it up, many times over, without being paid. We “make it up” every time we are at work until 8 pm, grading papers on Sunday afternoon, and buying classroom supplies at Target on Saturday morning.

Lynn43

January 22nd, 2011
3:34 pm

In my school system, almost all employees have been offered a variety of ways to make up lost time-even hourly employees. Yes, it will make a little extra work and time (for which they will be paid) for the person in charge of collecting this data, but our employees know they are appreciated and trusted.

NWGA teacher

January 22nd, 2011
3:37 pm

Inman Park Boy: We missed a day . . . for which we’ll be paid IF we make it up, in my district. The board and the superintendent will make that decision.

Inman Park scholar

January 22nd, 2011
4:27 pm

@Inman Park

Your child could not go to school because of a death in the family. The teacher excuses a quiz since your wonderful son has been earning extra credit. But the principal wants the kid to come to school on a Saturday WITHOUT to make it up? That would be OK with you? Oops, it does not matter.

bootney farnsworth

January 22nd, 2011
4:36 pm

what I wouldn’t give for a 40 hour week…

Fericita

January 22nd, 2011
5:50 pm

Towards the end of the last school year, our school building was going to go through major renovations. We ended up having to be out before our end-of-the-year work days were up. We just had to log in 16 hours (or whatever it was, I can’t remember exactly) before then to get paid. It was wonderful, because you know we do so much work at the end of the year with report cards, packing up, etc. And that year we got paid for it! Too bad some districts can’t do this.

RBN

January 22nd, 2011
6:15 pm

All it would take for teachers to unionize in Georgia would be for a local board to recognize a group’s baragining rights. The anti-union atmosphere in Georgia dates back to attempts to unionize textile mills in Georgia during Eugene Talmadge’s governorship. It is fascinating reading about group dynamics and the influence of racial prejudice in the political and economic history of our state. Talmedge, a populist himself but backed by mill owners, turned the National Guard on union organizers, literally running them out of the state by every means necessary, including violence. The organizers, many from the North, insisted on equal wages for black and white workers. That demand turned away Talmedges base of poor white voters who feared losing the little economic adavntage that they did have. Flash forward to the teacher union movement of the 1960’s and ’70’s which swept much of the county, except places like Georgia. As control of teacher organizations changed from administrators to teachers across the country, most states moved to improve teaching and learning conditions by winning contract rights. Many were in states like New York that made strikes by teachers illegal. Leaders went to jail for their cause. Integration and an enternched administrator leadership in Georgia complicated the process. A brief contract was negotiated in Chatham County/Savannah, but was thrown out over insurance funding issues. All across the country NEA and AFT fought for bargaining rights and over membership, but in most of the South AFT was absent and NEA affiliates were dealing with the merger of the white and black organizations.Administrator dominated organizations continued to be the norm. Georgia missed its golden opportunity to organize in 1975 when the raise which had been passed was rescinded. Teachers were angry and ready to walk out, but leadership was too cautious. Some left, disgusted by inaction. The continuing tension between administrators and teachers who wanted to bargain led to a splitin the early ’70’s when PAGE was formed as an anti-collective bargaining organization. Teachers have been split ever since, decreasing their political power and minimizing any effort to bargain. Sadly, we are paying the price today, and politicans have played GAE against PAGE and vice versa ever since. Yes, student achievement is strongly correlated with strong teacher contracts. I am at the end of my career as a teacher, 34 years later. I see young teachers who don’t know how they got pregnancy leave, a state retirement system, state health care, personal leave, a pay scale that was competitive until recently, a grievance policy, dental care, and more. I assure you it was not through the kindness of your local board or of governors and state legislators. All these were gained through collective political action by a hard working group of teacher association lobbyists and politically active teachers over three decades. Most could disappear this decade if young teachers don’t wake up and fight for it. How much more will they take?

Green Zone

January 22nd, 2011
6:22 pm

To the Barrow County employee who thinks teachers should have input into the Saturday workday plan: schools aren’t democracies. The administration doesn’t need your approval. If they were required to put it to a vote can you imagine how that would go. Worse things in the world than having to roll out of bed on a Saturday morning or two. Be grateful that you have a job, at the momemnt a lot of folks would happily trade places with you.

Beck

January 22nd, 2011
6:41 pm

For all of you suggesting a union it’s illegal for one to collectively bargain on our behalf in GA. But yes, it’s a wonderful idea. :)

Sped Teacher

January 22nd, 2011
6:56 pm

I also take work home; I brought lesson plans, data, etc. for this weekend. I have often thought about just leaving at 4:00 and returning at 7:45 a.m. without taking anything home…just to see what would happen. Right about the time I was contemplating this scenario, we had a faculty meeting and our principal made the comment that she realizes how much work we have, but she takes work home and works after and before school to get her work done, so we should do the same. With that mentality, how can I not take work home or work after/before school?