Superintendent suggests Wednesday afternoon off for teachers

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By John Klar, American Thinker

A Vermont school district has been mulling over a novel policy to give its teachers Wednesday afternoon off to alleviate their COVID stress — extending a “Snowsports Program” for the remainder of the school year.  

In a November 17, 2021 meeting of the Arlington School Board, advocates for this proposal extolled the struggles of teachers during COVID-19 [30:28].  School superintendent Bill Bazyk went to bat for teachers (30:38):

We are very concerned as a group about our teachers. Nobody planned on this. … But we are nervous.  I’m not sure how much longer they can take it, but they are doing a great job so one of the things that we are wanting to ask the Board … is to extend our JISP days for the whole year this year. … We need to give them some wellness days, we need to give them some time to themselves, and you know, catch up.  We’re not proposing this lightly, we know that it will be difficult for parents but what I would say to parents who ask is, you know, we all have our jobs, we all need breaks.  We can’t just work these teachers to the bone where they’re not going to be able to perform and we’re going to get higher absenteeism.

(JISP refers to the existing “Junior Instructional Snowsports Program”).

When asked whether the proposal had been discussed with the affected teachers, Bill Bazyk (35:31) counters, “I can’t imagine any staff saying no to this.”  One woman then reports (36:45) that the elementary school teachers enjoyed their kids-free JIST afternoons, reporting “how much fresher and revived they felt teaching, and how much more energy they had. … Many of them asked, is there any chance we could do this all year?”

A thoughtful voice (37:24) hazards “a little bit of concern just about what it would do to working families” because “child care is so difficult to get right now.”  Bazyk quickly dismisses such concerns, declaring that “we are asking parents to sacrifice.”

There is no mention of reducing teacher pay in concert with reduced school hours: children would lose 10% of their total in-school time, and some parents would have to leave them unattended, leave work, or hire care providers.  Teachers and staff would not incur a penny of expense — no sacrifice.  

The proposal would seem to present issues of inequity. Many tax-paying parents work very long hours under COVID stressors, and they lack the ability to give themselves a “break.”  Teachers bristle when ribbed that they get the middle of the year (“summer vacation”) off from work – now they need a middle-of-the-week break as well? 

Is the proposal fair to children, who are to be left alone?  An apologist outlines (at 42:00) the solution:

Sixth grade, maybe, but seventh through twelfth definitely, students are more apt to stay home alone.  Definitely eighth through twelfth.  And there may be some opportunities for some of our older kids to provide care to younger kids as well during that time.

Shall all Vermont school staff have Wednesday afternoons off for the year at taxpayer expense? Since school taxes are levied and disbursed at the state level, Mr. Bazyk is proposing to extend benefits very in-equitably.  What of private schools?  There is no question that COVID has challenged teachers — it has challenged everyone.  But shall doctors and nurses get Wednesdays off?  Perhaps their patients just need to sacrifice, too.

Ironically, someone quips (at 52:15) that no one will even watch the meeting video: “You mean our huge viewing audience? … It’s riveting.”  [Laughter.]

This news story was adapted from a commentary published in American Thinker. The author is a Brookfield farmer, lawyer, former pastor, and 2020 candidate for governor.

The author is a Brookfield farmer, lawyer, author, and 2022 candidate for the Vermont Senate.

Categories: Education

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11 replies »

  1. Obviously teachers have moved to the top of the food chain. All work has been stressful, since the onset of COVID. If I don’t go to work, I don’t not get paid. The should apply to teachers. This policy will become the new norm, just like the policies that started out as two weeks to flatten the curve. All I can say is that Vermont might not like what awaits them at the end of the yellow brick road. Time to move to school choice, funding follows the child.

  2. I guess it’s understandable why teachers would want to work less…and be paid more perhaps? It’s also understandable that the customer/constituent base is deciding that they no longer want to do business with such an organization. Families need to be released from their bondage to such an institution. The legislature needs to return families recourses. Families can educate their kids with a la carte services from schools and teachers.

  3. How about everyone, kids and teachers, just take off their masks and stop Covid testing everyone. If you’re sick, stay home, just like the old days 3 years ago. Period. The end. No more Covid stress.

  4. …and consequently, all of the parents of those children will now need wednesday afternoon off to care for their kids. When did we completely lose sight of the idea that outdoor recreation was something people should do on their own time? The test scores in Vermont are already abysmal.
    More fun and games for the teachers or students wont help with that.

  5. The inmates are running the asylum known as “public education”. Money for education should follow the students, making school choice, private schools, charter schools, home-schooling, and home-schooling pods viable options to such absurd proposals…

    • orrrrrr — …paycheck come direct from families who select the teachers and courses they want for their kids?

      • The reality is parents have no input into education, which is controlled by the teacher’s unions and the government. And if you complain about what is occuring, you are labeled a domestic terrorist. Yes, and we get to pay for this blatent disrespect and contempt, emotionally and financially.

  6. Early dismissal policies were instituted by the EWSD school district a year before the pandemic. They send them home an hour earlier, one day a week. Their stated reason was to eliminate teachers’ need to use non-work hours for grading and curriculum preparation.

    K-5 teachers already do not converse much with their students when they are outside of their classroom. Assistants do the work they used to do themselves, such as supervise and bring their students to recess, lunch, physical education, art, music, and library sessions. Today’s primary teachers interact less with students throughout the school day than they did years ago.

  7. Fwsu school district has been doing half days every other Wednesday in attempt to help staff meet and share ideas on how to catch the kids up academically as a result of covid schooling last 2 years. Here’s an idea….if you want the kids to catch up, more school, not less. Truth is, this is a result of pressure from the teacher’s union pushing for a more socialist style work week, starting with a reduction to 4 days and then less.
    They want to do the same with the whole domestic work force. Just like much of Europe’s 4 day work weeks. More reliance on the government when people work less. More need for social welfare programs and universal basic income. Ah, what do i care? At this point, the less time my kids spend in the government schools the better!

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