February 07, 2013 Print

Video: No More Stealing From Students

Legislation introduced by Senator Litzow would stop the erosion of quality services for students.

Senate Bill 5588 simply defines the school day as the 6 hours that we thought students were supposed to be getting.

Well they don’t.

In a growing number of districts students get as many as 45 shortened school days!

Why do districts do this?

Primarily it is because this is the most convenient way to get employee unions to acquiesce to spending time on professional development, collaboration or school improvement training.

It is true that these districts do preserve the 1,000 hour requirement by adding a few minutes to the remaining student days.

But why not do it the other way? Would it be unfair to shorten employee workdays by a few minutes in order to add some full days of employee time for the valuable non-student time that districts seek?

If it is unfair to employees, then it is unfair to students to do the same thing.

 A second reason they do this is that it is a form of a pay raise. For the wage, employees can do during workday hours things that they used to do at the edges of student learning time. A lighter workload for the same pay. 

The inefficiency of this practice cannot be ignored. Each partial day has the same cost of transporting, heating, bringing in classified staff, feeding students, and insuring as a full day, but students only receive shorter instructional time.

I suspect that the disruptive schedule is also hard on student learning.  Changing classes in school, for example, still takes the usual time, but the learning time in a shortened day is where all the loss is taken.

As the one providing payroll, it is certainly the prerogative of the legislature to define the employee year, the employee day, the student year and the student day.

After all, how many days of employee time can the average wage of $52,000 reasonably be expected to cover?


Jami Lund

Senior Policy Analyst

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