Unemployment Is Not A Vacation

Readers write

September 16, 1990

From: Patricia A. Anderson Havre de Grace To: WJZ Television I am an avid fan of your evening news broadcasts. I, however, get very unnerved when you continue to perpetuate the rumor that teachers have a "summer vacation."

I do not think of myself as being "on vacation" in the summertime. This is my time of unemployment. The shame of it is I am unable to draw unemployment because my employer does not pay into the system for those months.

In Harford County I teach 186 days and get paid for 186 days. I get 12 sick days for my personal illness and three personal business days for everything else. If a family member is sick, I attend the funeral of a friend, or settle on a house I must use my three personal business days.

Three days for a working mother does not go very far. After three days I can revert to leave without pay.

I do not get paid for holidays. I consider myself on leave without pay during Christmas, Easter, President's Day, etc. Paid vacation days are not figured in my contract. Overtime is not figured into my contract.

Some of the money I make during my 186 days of employment is withheld from my paycheck. For 10 months the local Board of Education uses my withheld money to supplement the school system's budget. In the summer my money is returned in increments, without interest. Thus the illusion of a paid two-month vacation is instilled in the minds of the public.

Superintendent Joe Shilling's plan to extend the school year 20 days would be a welcome change from summer unemployment in my book. I can't see it happening any time soon. Paying all Maryland teachers to teach 20 more days would be cost prohibitive.

I know you are a responsible news network. Using the words "summer vacation" for teachers only helps to keep the public misinformed about the true conditions of our unemployment.

People I talk to are astonished to realize that teachers do not get paid vacations and many do not have sick leave or vacation to use for family illness. Please contact the Maryland State Teachers Association or the Harford County Education Association if you are interested in letting the public know the true conditions of our employment.

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