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WA education analyst: Teachers get full-time pay for part-time student learning

Most students are learning virtually this fall. (Seattle Public Schools, Facebook)

An ongoing complaint from Dori and some Washington parents is why taxpayers are paying full freight for the type of remote education at the moment that, at least for them, does not appear to be entirely worth the cost. Liv Finne is the director of education at the Washington Policy Center and says teachers are getting full-time pay for part-time work.

“So the union has renegotiated the contracts with the teachers to require a shorter, considerably shorter, workday than they normally provide before COVID,” she told the Dori Monson Show. “The union contracts lay out in great detail what teachers are supposed to do and how many hours of work they do a day, et cetera. And now they have a new remote schedule, both in Spokane public schools and in Seattle public schools, which I’m sure is true across the state.”

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“For example, high school teachers are working three periods a day for 12 hours of weekly instruction,” Finne explained. “Before the lockdown, high school teachers worked five periods a day at least four days a week, a minimum of 20 hours of instruction. So, you see, the amount of time that is being required of teachers to work has been cut considerably now.”

Finne says this doesn’t mean that teachers aren’t working hard, but she says the new hours are not commensurate with the pay.

“Now, that’s not to say that individual teachers aren’t working very hard,” she clarified. “That happens all the time. But in terms of the contract, they’re required to work fewer hours a day than they did before COVID, which means that we’re providing full pay and the kids are getting part-time teaching. And that is just another example of a system that is failing to work for everyone, including teachers. So I’m very sympathetic as they are also being mistreated by this system.”

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In her post on the issue, Finne covered Ballard High School as an example, Dori’s alma mater, and found that teachers are currently required to provide instruction from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. So even if they’re working the same number of off-camera hours to prepare for each of those classes, it means that they are working about 60% of what they were before.

“What’s really distressing is that the teachers aren’t doing this, but it’s the administration of the schools giving the appearance that they’re putting in a full day by counting independent study time by students in the afternoon as counting toward the teacher’s work day,” she said. “It’s a preposterous new development.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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