Over a course of ten months, North Carolina public school teachers are officially employed for 215 days. Students in North Carolina typically go to school at least 180 days a school year. Most LEA’s define a contracted day of work as being eight hours for a teacher.

Imagine what would happen if educators only worked for those contracted hours.

A lot less.

There is the daily prep work to make sure that classes are ready to be engaging. There are not enough planning periods in a day now to accommodate the needed time to adequately get prepared for each class each day. Many teachers have to use that time to create resources they should have already had provided.

The amount of tutoring that occurs before and after school would not be available. When students are absent, there has to be a time and space to make up instruction and any assessments.

In a world that seems to want everything measured with a grade, many don’t understand the amount of time it takes to grade work. Think of how long an English teacher has to take to give feedback on papers for just one class. Now multiply that by five.

There would be no clubs or after school activities for students who were not involved with sports. And yes, many school systems offer a stipend to coaches for their work on fields of competition, but do you really want to know what that comes to in real dollars per hour? Ask a coach.

What about all of those students who come to school early and leave late because there is no other place for them to be due to life circumstances beyond their control?

And it’s not a mystery that teachers have to eat lunch in a matter of minutes and be available to cover classes when needed.

Oh, there are duties as well.

Ask any teacher who has had to do LETRS training this past year how much time it takes to complete that outside of the classroom. Now imagine all of the required professional development that has to be done on a teacher’s own time.

If teachers and other educators were actually paid by the hour instead of by a salary, most of them would make so much more than they do now.

Now put all of that into the context of what the pandemic caused teachers to have to do.

It would be an understatement to state that teachers work above and beyond the call of a contract to make sure that students have multiple opportunities to learn authentically in a society that presents incredible obstacles. For most educators, it truly is about the kids.

But that drive to serve and that spirit to give does have a limit.

This state could do so much more to help educators in our public schools.





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Clarence Choe