Every teacher has, at some point, had someone lament to him/her about how they wish their job paid them to “take the summer off”. Most of the time this statement is not made with any sort of ill intent, but rather with a sense of jealousy. It may even be made by a friend who wishes they “had it so good”.
But statements like these reveal just how widespread the myth is that teachers “get paid” to take summer vacations.
In a recent article in Take Part, the fact that many teachers actually do work during the summer was explored. The author pointed out that, “Many teachers stay and teach summer school or provide new coursework for students who want to get a headstart on the next year.”
She also mentioned professional development courses, that many teachers are required to take, and how these are commonly only available during the summer. Teachers reorganize classrooms, clean them out for summer janitorial work, etc.
But even then, some would argue that teachers still take an average of four days per summer week off entirely for eight weeks. And that may be true. But there is one huge point that you seldom ever see anyone talk about in the discussion about teacher work schedules.
In many states, teachers are under contract. Such contracts are renewed each school year, with any changes that need to be made in their terms. Those contracts do not run for one full year. They run for nine months.
But don’t teachers continue to collect paychecks for the whole summer? Sometimes they do. But doing so is really a matter of a feature offered by the local Board of Education. A teacher, by default, collects paychecks for the nine months she is under contract. If she chooses, the payroll department with stretch those nine months of paychecks out to a twelve month period, keeping regular deposits coming during summer for ease of personal budgeting for the teacher. Or the teacher can take the actual higher individual checks during the school year, and then collect nothing over the summer.
Essentially, if a teacher expects to return the following year, she is working though the summer for free to prepare for her own return, stock up on required personal development hours for the coming year, etc. But, unless that teacher is tenured and is guaranteed a return to her job the following school year, she is done when her contract expires each year. And in many places that contract is for nine months.