More info on how many days teachers take off

I recently wrote about a new report on paid teacher leave that prompted questions from posters. The findings were from the Washington-based National Council on Teacher Quality, which ranked 113 school systems nationwide.

Fulton teachers with 10 or more years’ experience receive 20 general leave days a year, among the most in the nation, according to the survey. Atlanta Public Schools, DeKalb County and Gwinnett County teachers get only 12.5 general leave days a year. Of the core metro counties, Cobb County offers the fewest (11.9). In Fulton, even teachers with less than 10 years’ experience get 15 general leave days a year.

A spokeswoman for the council read the comments on the blog and sent me this  note:

It was great to see so many readers were interested in it too. In scanning the reader comments, there were a few questions we had info on:

1. Cobb County: The 11.9 days we cite comes from page 5 of this board policy . As you can see, employees who work 191 or 194 days get 11.875 sick days a year (which we rounded to 11.9) and 200-day employees get 12.5 days a year. We considered Cobb teachers 191/194-day employees because according to Cobb’s salary schedule (available here), teachers work either 190 or 193 days. It’s unclear why this would differ from Georgia law. In some states when a law is enacted there’s a grace period during which districts can still have an old policy in place–perhaps this is an example of that.

2. Number of days given vs. number taken: In one of our recent studies we looked at the number of leave days teachers “actually” took in nine school districts (see page 51). It turns out that in 6 of those 9 districts teachers took an average of 10 or fewer leave days a year. That indicates that, at least in some districts, teachers take less leave than they’re allotted.

3. What happens with unused leave: In the five Georgia districts we track (Atlanta, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett), all –  except for Cobb County — give some payment to teachers at retirement for unused sick leave (though it can be small –in DeKalb teachers receive only $3-$9 per unused day). In Cobb County teachers don’t receive a cash payment for unused sick leave, but they do receive service credit for retirement.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

73 comments Add your comment

Beverly Fraud

September 19th, 2012
3:29 pm

Let’s talk about the “bad principal to excessive teacher absences” pipeline.

Only difference between it and the “school to prison pipeline” is not only is there correlation, there is CAUSATION.

Roxy

September 19th, 2012
3:53 pm

It would seem that Cobb teachers benefit from their system. A person can spend the $3-$9 quickly, but the Cobb plan creates a financial arrangement that keeps giving and giving and giving for years. If teachers realized the extent of their benefits and perks, perhaps, they would be more appreciative of the tremendous benefits they are earning that most of us “just parents” will never see.

H-ray

September 19th, 2012
4:00 pm

“tremendous benefits they are earning that most of us “just parents” will never see.” What planet are you living on?

Michele

September 19th, 2012
4:07 pm

Why don’t you take a look at how many days legislators take off? What about our governor or other state officials? What about garbage men? What about construction workers? What about the butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers? What in the world is wrong with this state and this country? Why blame everything on teachers? We all know they are BAD people. For God’s sake, don’t forget, they face some of the nastiest beings on this earth on a daily basis. There are good schools and there are pathetic schools. Look at the environments of the schools. I know you would find a correlation between the neighborhood and the attitudes of the teachers. Not EVERYTHING is the responsibility of the teachers. What we have here is a problem with American society. Nothing is ever anyone’s fault. Teachers are faced with homeless children, children of parental abuse, children with mental disorders, students with disabilities, poor children, and just down right obnoxious children. Is all this the fault of the teachers. From what I read and see on TV, I guess it is their fault. Go ahead and fire ALL of them. Put the legislators who make up obnoxious and unsupportable demands on teachers in the classroom for one day. They will quit. Let the governor or Saxby Chambliss teach an inclusion class at a middle school one day. They both will quit.

Georgia, you need a new focus on the problems of education in this neanderthal state. Start by looking at families, living conditions, entitlements, and all the other problems that are making it look like teachers are the cause. It just AIN’T so. Georgia needs to get it’s head out of the sand and stop making teachers the skapegoats of all the ills of the State of Georgia.

Solutions

September 19th, 2012
4:14 pm

There are 255 plus work days per year, so do not expect me to care a whit about teachers who only work 190 days a year. They always compare their so called 9 month salary to the 12 month salary real workers earn. I say make em teach 255 days a year at their current pay, or better still at half pay.

Solutions

September 19th, 2012
4:16 pm

Michele – You make it sound like teachers are prison guards……..that is an insult to real prison guards.

Ray

September 19th, 2012
4:18 pm

I support public schools teachers 100%. I went to public school, my kids go to public school, and both parents were public school teachers. But, on this issue of sick/general leave days, I think that 12-20 days off per year, on top of the approx. 13 weeks teachers get off per year, is a little too much. Most people do not need anywhere near that many sick days per year, so it is really just additional days off. And pretty much every day that a teacher is out of a class and a substitute teacher is there is a wasted day for the kids in the class, which is too many.

Again, I support teachers — I will argue until the cows come home that most teachers are significantly underpaid. But taking 12-20 additional days off per year, days off that hurt the students in their classrooms, is not right and not an issue that the general public will have much sympathy for.

teacher&mom

September 19th, 2012
4:29 pm

I firmly believe the “average” number of sick leave days is smaller if you do not include maternity leave and extended sick leave (10 or more days).

Why?

A couple of years ago our Superintendent was upset with the number of substitutes assigned to my school. We were told to decrease the days absent from school. What everyone failed to understand was this: we had two teachers take maternity leave (30-45 days), one teacher battled cancer and was out for almost 3 months, another teacher had emergency surgery, and one teacher had to travel out of town for two separate funerals. Those factors completely skewed the “average” for the entire faculty.

Any chance you can find out the average number of days missed outside of maternity leave, surgery, and family deaths?

A person from cobb

September 19th, 2012
4:35 pm

Non-teachers on this site typically miss one of the largest reasons for the number of days needed for sick leave. In corporate jobs, you can take comp time for a doctor’s appt. or in many cases for other reasons–you can take an hour and a half to do something and make it up later in the week or month.

On the other hand, teachers do not have comp time and we are told in many cases if you need an hour for an appointment you need to take an entire day off–since substitutes will not work half day jobs.

This is one of the key differences in leave provisions–in corporate (other than nurses) you are not obligated by law to have a certain number of people working at a specific time and the job just does not get done for the day and it is fine waiting to the end of week to get it done in most cases.

ClayManBob

September 19th, 2012
5:01 pm

Solutions:

The good teachers work 10 and 12 hour days, taking their work home with them, often staying up until late at night grading papers, preparing lesson plans for the next day, buying their own supplies out of their salary because the schools won’t, going to seminars and continuing development classes on weekends and during the summer at their own expense, working over the weekends, and much, much more. They don’t do it for the money, they do it for love of the children until they burn out and quit because of the attitude of parents and jerks like you.

You wouldn’t last a day in a public school. Prove it to yourself. I challenge you to volunteer to teach for a week and see what it’s really like. Talk is cheap.

Ron F.

September 19th, 2012
5:04 pm

In most school systems I know, after five days of sick leave, you have to have paperwork from your doctor. They also “remind” us of the average for the system and school, and I’ve even had paperwork placed in our mailboxes a few times a year to “remind” us how many days we’ve taken. I think, without maternity leave figured in, the average days taken by teachers would be less than 10. The number of days we are given is really irrelevant to me anyway. I know unless I had a major illness, there’s no way I’d be out that many days.

Sam

September 19th, 2012
5:35 pm

Something witty here about those lazy, lazy teachers

sneak peek into education

September 19th, 2012
5:42 pm

When I moved to the USA I was told that the workers worked hard but played hard too. I found that in the workplace, a lot of workers are not valued and are treated like work horses, expected to give their pound of flesh to their employers, and get very little in the way of time off for vacations days and maternity leave. Just look at the tables that show us where the USA is placed in the world when it comes to social issues regarding maternity leave, childhood mortality, health services, length of life. We lag way behind the rest of the industrialized world. What I do think is funny though is when others. like teachers, are perceived to have better benefits than other areas of the workforce, they are vilified as being greedy and lazy. Those who don’t have the benefits/holidays etc… in the private workplace cry fowl and whine about it the most. Instead of whining and complaining that “you have something I don’t have”, campaign your employer for better working conditions and benefits instead of demanding that everyone comes DOWN to your level. When you whine that you don’t have it as good and neither should anyone else, you sound like the very one’s you demonize-communists.

Martina

September 19th, 2012
5:52 pm

You also need to take into account that the majority of the teacher workforce (86.72% in 2009, according to a World Bank report) are female. I can’t find statistics on how many are parents, but if you have a sick child, odds are the mother is the one staying home with the child. That could also account for the number of sick days taken – not days when the actual teacher is sick, but has a family member to care for.

Solutions

September 19th, 2012
5:54 pm

Dear sneak, you can be replaced by a machine, keep whining and your employer will make it so….

Solutions

September 19th, 2012
5:56 pm

How does the Family Medical Leave Act relate to teachers? I can tell you that the private sector is being hit hard by employees abusing the FMLA to take unlimited time off work, anytime they want. First they use up all their paid time off, then it is unpaid time, but you cannot fire them, that is a violation of a worthless federal law, FMLA.

Ed Wynn

September 19th, 2012
6:00 pm

I just retired after 26 years of public school teaching. My system allotted us 12 days per year. I took more than that only twice……..due to caring for ill parents and their deaths. When I retired I had enough unused sick leave for an additional year of retirement credit. Not everybody “lays out.”

irisheyes

September 19th, 2012
6:13 pm

@Solutions, I don’t know about every system, but in mine (run by a man with the initials JAW), teachers can take up to 12 weeks for FMLA. For maternity leave (the only long term leave I’m personally familiar with), I could use sick days for the first six weeks, if I had them. If I wanted to take the entire 12 weeks, the last six weeks were unpaid. For both of my maternity leaves, I only took the 6 weeks (I couldn’t come back before then since I hadn’t been released by my doctor). Technically, you could take up to a year (unpaid) off, but there’s no guarantee you’re getting your job back. I think that option was taken by teachers who had preemies or children with medical issues. Again, I don’t know about any other long term leave, as I’m not familiar with it, but that’s how maternity works.

red herring

September 19th, 2012
6:14 pm

education employees come out far ahead of state employees who work year round. the complaints are always the same— “we work at home”, “we work when students aren’t in school”, etc, etc. the general public see education administration and employees as working 9 months and getting paid for 12. the general public is not being misled into thinking these people “have it made”—-they do have it made. perhaps not to the extent the chicago teachers have but still they have a tremendous deal that most workers in georgia don’t have. it is time they understand they are employees of the taxpayer and should respect the taxpayers a little more. chicago is a joke education wise and their “settlement” is a gift to the unions. If you can’t test pupils to see how their teachers are performing then you are wasting your time and money paying them for non-performance. I think georgia teachers are paid a good salary—administration is vastly overpaid— they all should realize they don’t work a full year. They also should realize that many of them take taxpayer funded vacations as “meetings, seminars, etc”— much of which should be stopped. You can meet in areas other than Savannah, Atlanta, St. Simons, Jekyll Island…. go figure.

beenthere

September 19th, 2012
6:34 pm

Enter your comments here

Solutions

September 19th, 2012
6:35 pm

When I retired I cashed out a couple months of unused vacation for over 20K in cash (check). I got six weeks of vacation a year, which was ok but not great.

beenthere

September 19th, 2012
6:49 pm

@Solutions: I sense you have ill feelings toward teachers. I am sorry you had a bad experience in school. Teachers are college educated individuals, most with graduate degrees. They deserve a professional wage. They are professionals who spend many hours after school and over the summer working. They do have 25 kids in their office all day so, no preparation happens during the workday. Since the standards they teach have changed three times in the last ten years, summers are spent writing new lesson plans. Times are tough these days, and there is no money for textbooks. They have to buy materials and/or create lessons to match the standards. Public school teachers teach whoever shows up. As Michele stated, they could be homeless, parentless, disabled, or discipline problems. They are really social workers as well as teachers. It is time we realize teachers take the students from where they are academically and move them forward with a year’s worth of progress. Parents are a child’s first teacher and if they are deprived of any lessons those first three years, research has shown these children never catch up. It is time we see parents as the root of their child’s success. Teachers are not magicians.

cgatlanta

September 19th, 2012
6:50 pm

Michele-If you are a teacher you should quit. You sound very bitter and I am sure it negatively impacts the children in your care. Remember, nobody HAS to be a teacher

sloboffthestreet

September 19th, 2012
6:53 pm

Now that the sick days are covered, how about a discussion stating “PERSONAL DAYS” that are also given.

I love the poster stating that teachers may be caring for a sick child and are not sick themselves. This is an issue that should bring to light what the rest of the employed Americans are given for such an occasion. Our children’s teachers are always the ones absent from the classroom because their employed spouses do not receive sick days and would lose a days pay if they stayed home with their sick child not to mention their employer does not take kindly to employees who cannot find daycare for their sick children. Our sons teacher last year used all her sick days so she brought her sick daughter to class with her to distract the entire class for the day not to mention exposing the class to whatever ailed her. Now isn’t that special?

As for the butcher, baker and candlestick maker, they are all self employed and there is no such thing as a paid day off. Get it?? Oh that’s right, you are a public school teacher, your mind doesn’t work that way! As for the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers who work for someone else, they are not paid if they fail to come to work and are soon dismissed from employment if they continue to stay at home for “Family Emergencies.” Very few full time employees are given “Sick Days.” Something about this thing they call “WORK.”

Martyr Much?

catlady

September 19th, 2012
7:20 pm

Well, I can tell you my system does not offer more for those who have been there a long time. Everyone gets the minimum.

I should be glad, however, that we still get subs instead of having to give up our planning times to cover one another’s classes. Thank you for that.

beenthere

September 19th, 2012
7:23 pm

Slob off the street and Solutions: I can’t believe the hate or is it jealousy? What salary would you have teachers making? What kind of teachers can you attract paying minimum wage? Should they have no days off? Just lock them in the classroom with your children. What caliber of person do you want your child spending the day with? What do you suggest for these professionals tasked with making miracles happen? Solutions: wow, two months of vacation and you cashed out $20,000. Surely, you were not a teacher making $10,000 a month.

Beverly Fraud

September 19th, 2012
7:32 pm

“Michele-If you are a teacher you should quit.”

Somebody vents on a blog and from that we can surmise their qualifications as a teacher and how they relate to their students?

Ever consider the blog just MIGHT be the way they process the negatives of teaching, so that they don’t take them out on their students?

Or would think require critical thinking?

catlady

September 19th, 2012
7:39 pm

Consider that teachers are around dozens of sick kids each day, I think we do pretty darned good. How many of you, at your office, have your colleagues come up and touch you and cough into your face, or come up and say, “Ms. Blank, I feel like I am going to bllaaccchhh (sound of vomiting)”? I have certainly been made sick by too many who should have been kept at home. One day last week there were 3 kids who got off the bus vomiting! Many teachers also are pulling duty in every kind of weather meeting the buses and overseeing kids being dropped off or picked up. Not too many office workers experience that, either.

There are many ways teachers

Old timer

September 19th, 2012
7:42 pm

Solutions …most teachers work all summer improving their skill, planning, and so on….you just need to get a clue….

Old timer

September 19th, 2012
7:46 pm

And as to sick leave…I retired with200 plus days…after having two children. But, one year I had the flu and was out three weeks….when I returned, I got sick again….finally I took my doctors advice. Even my husband had to take off, because I was so sick….I did have letters form my doctor and a principal who insisted we do what the doctor said..I got well. Thank God…for good subs.

Old timer

September 19th, 2012
7:47 pm

bootney farnsworth

September 19th, 2012
7:57 pm

@ solutions,

do you actually have any?
you have bitching and moaning and snark at a professional level, but when it comes to
adult style problems solving, you are noticeably absent.

bootney farnsworth

September 19th, 2012
8:00 pm

@ slob

your premise is flawed from inception.
to compare self employed to professionals working for a company is somewhere
between stupid and ignorant.

if you can’t or won’t see the difference, not much we can do to help you.

blahblahblah

September 19th, 2012
8:03 pm

Ask the average small business owner how many hours a day they work, and how many days a year they work. Many would laugh at a 10 hour day.

Georgia coach

September 19th, 2012
8:12 pm

Don’t feed the @solutions troll. If you argue with an idiot…

Roxy

September 19th, 2012
8:15 pm

If you decided to become a teacher and decided to stay in the classroom, you are like everyone who has stuck with a job, regardless of their reasons–you’re not special–you just have more benefits and a PENSION that the rest of us never had in the jobs we selected–teachers as martyrs are really unattractive.

cgatlanta

September 19th, 2012
8:17 pm

Beverly,
I was born at night, but not last night.

If a poster presents that much anger and disdain for students in any forum I view them as unfit to teach. Sorry.

Before you demand that I am thankful for public school teachers, understand that I pay taxes for their efforts (and I get to pay for private education for my children).

teacher&mom

September 19th, 2012
8:22 pm

@Solutions: A teacher can take advantage of the Family Medical Leave Act….however, she does not get a single day of paid maternity leave. After she exhausts her accrued sick leave days, the remaining maternity leave is docked from her 190 salary.

bootney farnsworth

September 19th, 2012
8:28 pm

@ red

failure #1 on your part: most education employees are 12 month.

failure #2 on your part: 9 month employees who get paid 12 months a year are done so on a pro rated scale based on their nine month salary.

failure #3 on your part: the only place we have a better deal than the average Georgia professional is in your (and perhaps Fran Millar’s) head now admittedly we do have it better than the third shift manager at Burger King, but we went to school and ongoing professional education to get there.

failure #4 on your part: we are not employees of the taxpayer no more than soldiers or even road kill collectors are.

failure #5 on your part: your profoundly warped understanding of the process of how the US capitalistic system works.

failure #6 on your part: you can’t determine how well teachers are doing by testing alone any more than you can prove how good a car is based upon its paint job.

failure #7 on your part: teachers are not paid a good salary in Georgia.

failure #8 on your part: administrators work 12 months a year.

success #1 on your part: most administrators are overpaid. you just proved the axiom even blind squirrels occasionally find acorns.

failure # 8 on your part: the vast majority of us have not and do not attend out of town meetings. ever.

but you already know all this.

so based on getting 8 out of 9 points wrong, some badly wrong, this educator must assess
you a failing grade in the most basic points of honesty, integrity, critical thinking skills, and
basic comprehension….

you flunk. big time.

ya know, I tested this pupil and see the non performance, gave him the deserved grade.
ouch. got what you wanted and still got taken to the woodshed

bootney farnsworth

September 19th, 2012
8:33 pm

@ slob

thank you for reinforcing my point.

I am curious why you called me a slut, however. do you think it added intelligence to your remarks?
hurt my feelings? made you morally superior somehow?

and there we have it, a critic of the education system resorting to calling people who stand up to him
a slut.

bootney farnsworth

September 19th, 2012
8:34 pm

oh, and slob….

I’m old enough to know the SNL reference you so badly failed to use.
friendly hint: don’t do amateur night at the Punch Line

bootney farnsworth

September 19th, 2012
8:37 pm

@ Roxy,

jealously doesn’t become you.

most Americans are in jobs they don’t like for the benefits or pensions. so were not all that special now, are we?

Good grief

September 19th, 2012
8:38 pm

I am a teacher, and I can tell you this: it takes more trouble than it is worth to write up sub plans and try to get things organized for a day out of the classroom. I take (maybe) 2 days off a year, sometimes a day more, usually for illnesses. I am lucky that my husband works from home, so he is the one who stays with our children when they are home sick; otherwise, I am sure I would be out many more days. Good teachers work even when they should be home in bed because leaving our students even for one day can cause setbacks in learning that can wreak havoc on a unit. Just because we are allowed a certain amount of days doesn’t mean we actually take them.

bootney farnsworth

September 19th, 2012
8:39 pm

@ teacher/mom,

non faculty use family leave to protect their jobs, but the paid time off they actually get is based on how much leave they have. zippo else.

bootney farnsworth

September 19th, 2012
8:40 pm

@ maureen

are slob and solutions the same person?

beenthere

September 19th, 2012
8:57 pm

Slob off the street: The miracle is YOU can read. Thank a teacher!

bootney farnsworth

September 19th, 2012
9:00 pm

@ beenthere

you’re making an assumption.

beenthere

September 19th, 2012
9:08 pm

Maureen Downey

September 19th, 2012
9:33 pm

@bootney, No.

Ron F.

September 19th, 2012
9:46 pm

Here’s something to think about: our elected officials decide what benefits teachers get. If there’s an issue, complain to them and push for a change. I went to school, earned a degree in English with a minor in Education and then a Master’s in Reading. The benefits and pay I get are based on my degrees and years of experience. Unless I’m wrong, it works the same way in the private sector. And if I were getting bad evaluations, I’d expect to be pushed out as I’ve seen happen to others. Those who think education degrees are easy to get should try to get one and tell us how “easy” it is. If the benefits are so good, get your certification and come take part in them. At the rate we’re going, we’ll need some good teachers to take over when the current generation retires or leaves. Compared to the private sector, we’re not taking any more days off on average and using those benefits in any abusive way. But understand that as you reduce the pay and benefits, you also reduce the pool of qualified applicants you’ll attract. It does take more than a warm body to do the job, despite what some here may think.