I am writing because I am tired of the public vilifying teachers, despite the fact that we play a pivotal role in society. A recent opinion column suggested that we can solve public school districts’ financial woes by stopping “the wasteful practice of letting sick days accumulate.” For the record, the majority of my colleagues and I are hard-working, dedicated individuals whom rarely call in sick. There have been many days where I have come to work ill because I’ve had obligations to my students and did not want to let them down.
Teachers do not have the luxury of accumulating sick hours and vacation time, like those in the private sector do. Therefore, when our apparently superhuman immune systems fail us, or we have to take maternity leave, or we need to take care of other family issues, we do not have a bank of vacation time that we can use.
Our time off is June, July, and August, but those aforementioned issues don’t always conveniently occur during summer break. Thus, we need accumulated sick days. In addition, perhaps the writer is the one who should “try some common sense” and realize that the teacher absenteeism problem would only be exacerbated if sick days were no longer allowed to accumulate. In the private sector, when people are faced with the use- it-or-lose-it scenario, they use it.
So, instead of fixing districts’ financial problems, the writer’s solution will in fact only make it worse.