This? Is Not OK: Teacher Pay Edition

Image via iStock Photo/Nicholas McComber

In my defense of public school teachers, I’m starting a multi-part series on just what teachers do. What DOES a teacher do when they’re teaching school?

As a “retired” public elementary school teacher with a Masters Degree* in Elementary Education, I’m here to expand your brains.

With the teacher pay budget-cutting discussions we saw in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey, and  Florida, many untruths about teachers are being spread.  There are some fartknockers out in the media spewing drivel to the masses about what public-sector teachers are being paid and how much time they have off from work.

It’s downright laughable if it wasn’t what was actually being said and believed by the viewers of these mouth-breathers.

One such mouth-breather I happened to see was from a clip on The Daily Show. Check in at about 1:20 to see the best of this drivel:

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To paraphrase…

Teachers are off of work at 2:30.

Teachers get 3 months of vacation.

When you count in all of their benefits, teachers make over $70,000 a year.

The students show up, sit in their seats, and teachers collect their paychecks.

Now, I present to you the truth, as told by Pangie (me), a “retired” public school teacher and friend to current working teachers.

“Teachers are off of work at 2:30.”

Excuse me while I laugh my fat ass off at that comment.


I’ll use the example of the elementary school at which I worked: Students were at school from 8:45am-3:00pm every day (Wednesdays until 2:00). Teachers are required to be in their classrooms or working at school at 8:00am and are allowed, by union contract, to leave after 3:30pm every day of the work week. During the school day, teachers are scheduled for 22 minutes for lunch, and have a 50 minute planning period.

Now, just imagine the amount of papers to grade, detailed lessons to plan, papers to copy, bulletin boards to decorate, learning centers to prepare, documents to complete, books to read, spreadsheets to enter, department and school-wide meetings in which to participate, statistical information to compile, parent-teacher meetings to hold, and in-service classes to attend.

These cannot physically be done in that one 50-minute per day planning period, and 30-minute** span before and after school that’s provided for the teachers. (**I’m being generous with the 30-minute spans before and after children are in the classroom, because in my case, our principal required us to keep our classrooms open and available for students to enter, thus making teachers responsible for the students.)

I’ve not ever met one teacher, good, bad, or ugly, who can complete all of their required work in that 50-minute planning period and 30-minute span before and after school.


I encourage you to visit an elementary school parking lot to see just what teachers are carrying in and out of the school. The bags of papers and projects to assess. The rolling carts they pull behind them as they walk to their cars in the afternoon.

Yes, teachers are “allowed” to leave at 3:30 as agreed to by the union contracts and school board. But they aren’t leaving school grounds without their work. Their extra work happens late at night when their own children have gone to bed and on the weekends when their kids are playing. Parent-teacher conferences are scheduled before or after school time. Mandatory in-service training happens on Saturdays and evenings. PTO/PTA meetings are scheduled at night.

All of these things are “off the clock” for the teacher. She is on HER time, committing time to her students.

I challenge you to find a teacher who leaves at 2:30 every day to go out shopping. Please. Find her for me, and you’ll win 144 internets.

Next in my series, I’ll discuss the LMFAO aspect of teachers getting 3 months of vacation time a year. Stay tuned!

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*I get to mention that I earned a Masters Degree any chance I can without sounding douchey because I’m still paying for it.

Cross-posted from A Whole Lot of Nothing blog.

  • @asandford

    Thanks for responding to this issue. I’m not a teacher, but my mom worked in our small-town (award-winning) K-8 school for many years, and my aunt taught (and coached) for DECADES, AND my close friend’s wife is a teacher, so I know how hard the teachers work, especially the good/great ones. Also, you used my favorite derogatory term (fartknockers) so you’re aces in my book. Thank you to all teachers for all they do.

  • Teachers will always be at the mercy of the public. There will always be detractors. Why? Because everyone went to school, and thereby everyone is a expert in all things education.

    The fact of the matter is, being a teacher requires long hours to do it right. It is a profession that defines you, changes you, becomes you. Not all teachers should be teaching, but the majority are in it with their hearts, souls, and above all, brains. Yet we will be the brunt of all of the criticism as long as education is in crisis.

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