Former teacher says job is tough, but not enough to walk out

May 6, 2015, 1:01 PM | Updated: 2:25 pm

As teachers across Washington walk out to draw attention to poor education funding, Boze says they ...

As teachers across Washington walk out to draw attention to poor education funding, Boze says they should stay in the classroom.

Teachers have it tough, but they shouldn’t walk out on the job, according to one former school teacher.

Jill Stephens told AM 770 KTTH’s David Boze he is only partially correct on the topic of teachers in Washington, many of whom are striking this month to put pressure on the state Legislature for more funding.

Boze has pointed out that Washington Republicans have tried to put $2.7 billion toward education over the past two years, and that the state is trying to spend 43.3 percent of all general fund spending on education.

“So for the Washington Education Association and the Seattle Teachers Association to step up and say, we’ve got to walk out, even though, by the way, we are supposed to be an essential service, we are not supposed to be striking anyway, and we have a contract under which we’ve agreed to work &#8212 we are going to walk out anyway for one day. Because we can. Basically we can hold other people hostage,” Boze said. “I thought that was pretty bogus and lame.”

“The teacher compensation package is not that bad,” he said. “Teachers get step increases. For a calendar that is friendlier than anyone else’s, there is an attraction there that is undeniable.”

Stephens told Boze that she left the teaching profession in 1984, citing “teacher burnout” as the cause.

“I became fed up,” Stephens said.

“If you are going home like I did and grading papers into the night and spending weekend hours, you have teacher burnout,” she said. “When I was teaching, burnout was 3-5 years … where people were leaving the profession.”

Stephens noted, in fairness, that she worked in a low-income area in Southern Oregon, where school budgets were as poor as the local economy.

“I just felt that we were being asked to raise children, and not being appreciated, and not being able to do what we would like to do,” Stephens said. “So a lot of us left.”

But Boze has another perception on working extra hours.

“When I hear that people put in extra hours or weekend hours, I do that all the time, all the time,” Boze said. “I just think, you put in extra hours, you have a salaried position, you get a couple months off in the summer.”

Stephens said that Boze isn’t entirely wrong to say that, however, he is forgetting some key aspects of the job. Teachers need time outside of a class to get their jobs done. It’s not all about being in front of students. There’s preparation and organization that happens.

“We didn’t have any extra time [when I was a teacher]. We didn’t have any free periods in the day, we didn’t have any half days to do lesson plans. We had two in-service days a year, which were mandatory. All of our lesson plans and grading had to be done before school, after school, or at home,” she said. “We worked about 50 hours a week. In the summer time, it required that we go back to school.”

“I think teachers deserve and need some free time, whether it’s half days here or there, or a free period,” Stephens said. “But to demand more time off to strike sets a bad example. There needs to be a happy medium.”

Teachers in Lake Washington and Northshore School Districts planned a strike day on Wednesday. Seattle teachers will not be in class on Tuesday, May 19.

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Former teacher says job is tough, but not enough to walk out