Friday, November 18, 2016

Days Go By

So we're packing it in, for a week. The modern rules of most California school districts have us closing up shop for a week while we gather together to ask the Lord's blessing. For some, it takes a full seven days to shop for and prepare a Thanksgiving dinner, but that isn't the reason for taking the extra days. It might be nice to suggest that someone in the higher echelons of education saw that teachers and students were beginning to get crispy around the edges 'round about this time of year and for the sake of everyone's sanity, It might be nice to imply that somehow we had all earned this respite for the day to day onus of learning. Not exactly so.
Instead, the reason for us all getting a full week of Thanksgiving Vacation is this: Average Daily Attendance. This number is used to help determine how much funding each school should get. The more kids you have sitting in their seats each morning, the more money your school will get. That makes sense: Mo' kids, Mo' money. When it was determined that the average daily attendance in many California school districts tends to plunge in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, it was decided to just give the whole week away, to be made up at some point a little further down the calendar. This year, for example, due to the flexes and stretches of the one hundred eighty instructional days puts our final day as teachers on a Monday after the kids have gone off on their summer vacation. No more pencils, no more books, but plenty of dirty looks from teachers who will have to pry themselves out of bed to go back to that building one more time to have what is euphemistically referred to as a "Teacher Work Day." That would be opposed to the usual day we spend sipping tea and eating cucumber sandwiches in the teacher's lounge. It is the price we pay for other obscure negotiations that include getting Veteran's Day off, which came at a point where there may have been a few lives saved, if not careers.
Nobody asked me, but the way I have always worked is straight through. If I were making up the academic calendar, I would have us working one hundred eighty days straight through, then taking one hundred eighty-five off. Nobody asked me. Also, knowing me, I would find another school somewhere else at which I could fill those idle hours until our kids returned.
Happily for my own well-being, I don't get to make those choices. Instead, I will locate the off switch and take the next few days to sort myself out. The kids will miss me terribly, I know, but absence will most surely make the heart grow fonder and we will all welcome one another back to prepare for the next flurry of reading, writing and arithmetic that comes just before those two weeks at the end of the year. I am already counting those days.

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