Teachers shouldn’t be expected to work extravagantly long hours

Jay Matthews reports that teachers at J.E.B. Stuart High School put in lots of extra hours to try to help the students: This high school was struggling, but a community was able to turn it around. It is good to see that test scores rose, but Matthews didn’t give any helpful suggestions to other schools how to achieve similar results.

Teachers were staying late after school and working on Saturdays to help students who were furthest behind. One teacher ignored doctors’ advice that he take two or three weeks to recover from an operation and was back at work in three days, said veteran Stuart math teacher Bill Horkan.

As the SOL tests approached, “teachers gave up all their planning time, meeting time and just time in general to help out students,” Horkan said.

A commenter [Crunchy Mama] said, “Sufficient planning time during the school day might be a start, WaPo. Yes, the kids CAN learn, and sometimes they DO need more than we’re paying for. That doesn’t mean teachers should then work *for free* to make up the difference. That way Burnout lies.”

Another commenter [Urban Dweller] said, “I’m a teacher and I’m willing to give some extra time–with out remuneration or accolades. But this is over the top. A teacher went against his doctor’s advice and potentially sacrificed his own health?…”

Matthews concluded his column by saying, “A united school community almost always makes a difference, but that takes educators who are willing to make an extra effort, an element in educational transformation that rarely gets mentioned in speeches and commission reports.”

Let’s hope that there are not a lot of speakers who would attempt to say that the key to higher achievement is for teachers to work even more extra hours. If time for students is truly important to members of a community, they will ensure that sufficient resources are provided for the schools to provide this valued time. And of course these resources should provide for scheduled planning time for the teachers.

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