Monday, January 14, 2008

In Service Day

What the hell is an "In-Service" day?

I swear, didn't every kid in America just have two weeks off from school? And today, in the the Matsu Valley, they're off again because of a teacher's in-service day. And then they're off next Monday for Martin Luther King day. Was there going to be some school this month, or what?

I can't work when the kid is home, I just can't. And it seems lately that he's been off more than he's been at school. I mean seriously, an in-service day? What the hell is that anyway? This is getting worse than Spain, where every kid is off at least four times a month for some Saint's birthday, or the US Air Force where everything just shuts down inexplicably two or three times a month for 'An Air Force Down Day.'

Supposedly an in-service day is so the teachers can get organized, review curriculum, and generally use the time to improve education. Bah. They've got all summer to do that stuff, they just had Christmas break - and now they need yet another day. At least I'm home, but what about all those folks who work and either have to take the day off or find child care? How much is this costing all of us in lost wages and babysitters?

Look, I like teachers, I always vote for improved salary and benefits, I think it's a tough job. But damn, seriously, how about a couple of full weeks in the school year. Is that too much to ask?


  1. I actually don't like teachers very much. As far as in service days go, it's when they actually get together and do things like curriculum planning, etc. They don't do school stuff over summer break, Christmas break, etc. And staying after school hours to do such a thing? Nonesense. At 3:05 it's out the door baby.

    And don't get me started on the teacher's union...

  2. Why, yes, Jim, it is too much to ask.

    Shawn beat me to the snarky teacher's union comment, so I won't go there. But yes, kids not in school usually means "teacher's union."

  3. I know. I hate bashing on the teacher's union, and I understand that it's a hard job - but for crying out loud, they just had two weeks off. How much curriculum planning is necessary at this point?

    And next week is another 4-day school week? WTF!

  4. As the SIL of two teachers, the niece of another, I feel obliged to say...

    Nothing in their defense. I am soooo with you and you're WTF??!?. I know what they do on the inservice days. Usually not much, unless they're on a committee. And we all know how much work committees get done.

  5. "your" not "you're"

    arrgh. Brain needs lunch.

  6. As the daughter of teachers, I can tell you that around here "in service" days are the days where teachers, as state employees, have to meet the minimum number of work days for 9 month employees, while students are required to have fewer days.

    I think they are also related to the "built-in" snow days. So if the schools have had too many snow days, students go to school during in-service days to make up time. (If things get really bad, then they lose spring break.)

    At my mom's school, in service days are often used to parent-teacher conferences, or for teachers to work with students one-on-one or with their parents.

    And Shawn, aren't the teachers required to put in a specific number of hours before or after school? My mom gets to school at 6:30 so she can leave when the kids do, otherwise she'd have to stick around till almost five.

  7. 8:10 to 3:05 -- it's a negotiation issue, so it varies from school to school.

    The time for students is mandated by the state. Usually, however, the teacher's contractual minutes (yes, it's to the minute, we've had vicious grievances over 3 friggen minutes) are usually negotiated per district.

    I, however, just keep working until my job is done. And I could actually get fired if I were a shmuck, as opposed to a tenured teacher. They pretty much have to shoot or rape someone to get fired.

    Grumble, grumble, grumble.

    Disclaimer: Yes, there are teachers that are wonderful -- my experience however, puts them in the minority. My cynicism, let me show you it...

  8. Michelle, here in the Matsu, parent teacher conference are two additional days once a semester - in service are separate.

    And, despite the fact that we live in Alaska, we rarely, if ever, have snow days. We're used to snow, our buses are equipped with automatic chains and traction systems, many are 4-wheel drive. It's normal for us - in fact I can remember only 1 snow in the last 3 years, and I think that was because it was snowing, sleeting (despite being -20F), freezing, and the wind was blowing 80+ knots (which is also fairly common around here in the winter.

  9. We actually have one or two more inservice days here in Washington than we did in Alaska. The first year down here, we started school the same day but got out a week later. Now Anchorage, anyway, is on the bizarre mid-August start schedule.

    We have two days next week - one MLK and then Tuesday in-service. And in February, same thing for President's day. And these holidays are NOT ones the usual place of business gets off.

    I can support one day a quarter for grades/next quarter prep, but I've heard that most teachers feel that inservice training is a bit of a joke.

    Yes, I agree, TEACH.

  10. Hmm... not having had any experiences with the public schooling system other than as a student... In Indiana we always got our spring breaks regardless of number of snow days, because spring break was in March - which was still the middle of winter. To make up snow days, they would just tack on more school days at the end of the semester. We normally got out in mid-May, but one year it went into early June because of that. Then normal school start was mid-August.

  11. Jim,

    Yeah, the problem is WV:

    1) can't afford to get the roads clear fast enough
    2) has some really bad rural roads, including unpaved roads, and roads that plunge down off the side of the mountain on one side.
    3) is full of hills. i.e. straight roads are fine, but the road in front of my driveway is constantly a problem for drivers (which means we constantly hear cars spinning their tires when we're in the living room)

    Also, since we have so many kids that are bussed, and spent at least an hour on the bus on a good day (school consolidation hit big a few years ago, so we have fewer schools and longer bus rides), heavy snow is a big problem.

    So we just have a lot of snow day make-ups built into the system, so they can err on the side of caution.

    And Shawn, that's really screwed up.

  12. Michelle, I've spent time in WV and I understand perfectly. Is there actually a straight road anywhere in the state :)

    Beautiful place though, and some damned nice people once you get to know them.

  13. Plenty of straight roads! Sometimes even for a quarter of a mile at a time!

    Knowing your way around is very important in WV, because it means you can find the way home with the least steep hills no stops on hills when it snows.

    Apparently many people fail this, because there was a four car pileup in front of my house this morning.

    Stupid four-wheel drive vehicles.

  14. Actually, in-service dasy are when they administer the Myers-Briggs tests to the teachers. ;-)


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