On Wednesday, June 20, 2007, several North Carolina educators visited Raleigh to "educate" the General Assembly regarding issues of teacher working conditions and the state of our schools in general. This blogger participated in this event and this blog post is dedicated to the event.
North Carolina educators have alot to be thankful for with the current makeup of state government. In the past four years, Governor Easley and the General Assembly have worked together to begin increasing NC teacher salary to the national average, improve working conditions in the classroom, support programs that encourage recruitment of native-born Tar Heels to become teachers, and rewarding schools that perform above state standards. All these accomplishments are fostering a positive working environment for teachers and students alike which leads to better educated students.
Despite all these accomplishments, one very important component of professionalism is lacking for NC teachers. Currently, educators in North Carolina must pay $50 for personal leave when situations develop that require them to miss work. North Carolina is the only state in the union that requires its teachers to pay for personal leave.
Educators are asking the General Assembly to approve two days of paid personal leave for teachers so they will have the security of not have to choose between important matters and losing pay. At the present, teachers are often forced between attending funerals, family issues, and other non-sickness related emergencies or paying $50 per day. They can not plan for these situations to occur during their vacation time and the choice between work and attending the event backs teachers into a corner.
Some argue that teahers already receive more vacation time than any other profession. It is true that we receive two months vacation in the summer, a holiday break, and a spring break. However, teachers are only paid on a ten-month salary, unlike state employees and private sector workers. In addition, on average teachers condense a 12 month work cycle into 10. Personally, during the school year I am working 7 days a week on educattion related matters and average nearly 70 hours on my teaching duties.
Others say providing personal leave enables educators to miss more work at state expense. We all understand that some may take advantage of the two personal days, but the vast majority of educators see the importance of being in the classroom and will only use the leave in an emergency.
The North Carolina General Assembly and Governor Easley are commended for their support of education and the personell who have the awesome responsibility to enlighten the next generation of Tar Heel leaders. Providing personal leave is one more piece of the puzzle in continuing to ensure our teachers are treated in a professional manner.
"When teachers are happy, students achieve more!"