Let me start off by stating the obvious, the economy sucks right now. Teachers in Georgia last night found out we will now have a three day furlough in addition to last year’s removal of a much needed cost of living increase of 3 percent (and for the foreseeable future as well). I have several friends who are out of work completely, so hear me when I say that I am more than grateful to have a job at all. Now please let me vent…
I heard the rumblings about a furlough a few days ago on the news. To be honest, it sounded ominous, but I wasn’t really sure what it meant. I looked it up and a furlough is defined as “a temporary leave of absence from employment, duty in the armed services, or from a prison term. It may be voluntary or involuntary. In prison it is known as a work release.” I thought if it was voluntary and you were choosing not to show up for a few days, it would be considered a prison break, but I guess not.
I am pretty certain I fall into that work release category, although I am not presently incarcerated. The three days we will not be paid are most likely going to fall during the first planning week before school begins. Facebook lit up last night with discussions about the poor forethought that went into this decision as those precious pre-planning days are the only time teachers have, squeezed in between meetings and paperwork, to ready our classrooms for the students who will be waiting at the door the following Mondays with freshly combed hair and shiny lunchboxes. Or with sullen looks and their thumbs fused to their texting lifelines, if they are high schoolers. Two days is not enough to get all that needs to be readied for the job ahead.
But in these discussions, maybe the Governor is more savvy than first appeared. He knows that teachers are teachers for a reason, and 9.9 out of 10 times it is not for the fame or fortune. He knows that whether we are paid or not during those pre-planning days, most of us will probably go in and do the work that needs to be done. Teachers do this on weekends and evenings during the school year anyway. Teachers do this when we shop the sales at Target to get our students materials that they need, but can’t afford. Teachers do this when no one says thank you or acknowledges the heart and sweat that we pour into each of the lives entrusted to us.
The reality is that we will not get paid for three days of work that we will finish anyway. That is the heart of a teacher. This furlough really is more of a work release situation, I guess, than an unpaid vacation. But if they ask us to start wearing the orange jumpsuits to work, I am so out of there.
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