Date: Oct 14, 2012 12:48 PM
Author: Paul A. Tanner III
Subject: Re: US teachers are overworked and underpaid

On Sun, Oct 14, 2012 at 11:00 AM, Robert Hansen <> wrote:
> I was dead on with my numbers.
> The average length of a school day in primary school in Florida is 6.4 hours
> (I said 6.5). For the nation it is 6.6.

Yes, again, as it was with salaries, this is about how you wrongly interpret data, how terms are defined.

They do not define "school day".

It cannot be the number of hours per day that teachers or even students are required to be on campus. Defining it that way contradicts so much.

It has to be be the actual number of academic hours or some such thing, not the total number of hours that teachers or even just students have to be on campus. Because consider all these facts that such an above definition would contradict:

Go to the Google search engine and enter

"straight seven" or uniform schedule

exactly as is, with the quotation marks exactly as is.

You will see many hits about this traditional "straight seven" or uniform schedule we all grew up on in FL. Some schools got away from that and went to so-called block schedules, but are now are going back. This is 7 different 1-hour class periods - for just the classes, never mind time that teachers or even just students have to be on campus.The total amount of time that a student is in a class is not different in the two ways, and neither is the total amount of teaching time, neither is the amount of time required to be on campus.

One of the top hits is about Broward County, which is going back to this traditional "straight seven" or uniform schedule for all its public schools. The traditional "straight seven" or uniform schedule is the traditional seven 1-hour class periods per day, where typically the classes are actually 50 minutes and there is 10 minutes between classes so that students can get to their lockets and go to the bathroom and get to the next class in time. Teachers teach 6 of these classes for 5 days per week, so by one measure we calculate 30 hours of teaching time per week. Multiply 6 times 180 school days per year and we get that figure of 1080 hours per year in the OECD charts for teaching time per year for the US teachers.

But note that these 1-hour classes are actually 50 minutes of actual class time. And so use another measure of teaching time, which would exclude these 10 minutes, we get 300 minutes per day, which is 5 hours per day, which is what we see in the teacher contracts. The districts in their contracts do this for block schedules also, where the time that is between classes is excluded by this measure of calculating teaching time. By this measure, we get the lower teaching times per year for US teachers than the OECD charts, this lower time being 900 hours per year, although still much higher than the top performing countries of Korea, Finland, and Japan of between mid-500s and mid-600s. Again, also keep in mind that these OECD charts show for that for the US and these three countries, teaching time per year is greater for primary school teachers than for secondary school teachers, and to calculate per week and per day figures, that the school year for Korea, Finland, and Japan is respectively 225, 190, and 243 days.

So that is why I want to know whether your public school is a charter public school, or some other type of special public school, since that would explain everything as to why you think you see a difference between the average primary teaching hours for the US and your school. Please, again, I ask you: Is your public school of your son sort of the special public school like a public charter school? You have an obligation to answer this question since of it is, it would explain everything.

But again, if it is not some sort of special public school like a public charter school, the contract with the teachers should address how teaching hours are calculated - it's possible that part of what you don't think are teaching hours are counted as such by either the district or the OECD, and from the contract we can get some idea.

I already talked about this using the community college context: A teacher there teaching 5 different 3-semester-hour classes per week with these classes meeting three times in the week for one hour can be said to have 15 hours per week of teaching time. But since those meetings are actually 50 minutes with 10 minutes of time to get to the next class, there is actually only 2.5 hours per week per classes of actual class time for a total for the teacher of 12.5 hours per week of teaching time. Yet these classes are called 3-semester-hour classes instead of 2.5-semester-hour classes. This is true even if these 3-semester-hour classes meet only once per week. They can go straight though, for only 2.5 actual hours per week just like in the in the other model, yet still they are called 3-semester-hour classes.

I have no problem with this way of measuring, and from what I showed further above, that way of measuring is evidently what the OECD charts use. So seeing whether your school is a public charter school or some other type of special public school, or otherwise seeing your school's actual teacher contract give me information by which I can see that some of what you might not consider teaching time actually is considered teaching time by this measure.

To anticipate:

Now I know what you are thinking: You want to believe that the OECD did one type of measure for calculating teaching times for the US teachers but another one for all the other countries, since that would make less severe the fact that US teachers are overworked in this department of teaching hours - and when teaching different students in different classes, this department of the grand total number of students dealt with. Now why would the OECD do this? (It would be some socialist plot against conservatives in the US? Phooey.)

There is no evidence that they did this and so it is reasonable to assume that they used similar calculating methods that result in fair comparisons. That is, we can reasonable assume that either way of measuring uniformly over the countries would preserve the differences we see in the charts. But again I note that *even with* different measures for the US and the other countries, the US teachers still are overworked 50% more than the teaches of these three other countries in the departments of teaching hours and for those teachers teaching different students in different classes, in the department of the grand total number of students dealt with.

Note: This last point holds most severely in the traditional "straight seven" or uniform schedule - 20-25 different students in 6 different classes for a total of 125-150 students vs. about half that at worst for the same level teachers of Korea, Finland, and Japan, who have about half as many classes.

Finally you need to note this:

Here is the teacher contract for your county, Brevard County. I've only quickly skimmed it. It seems to go by either a "straight seven" or at least the block-scheduled equivalent of it. That is: It shows that the teacher workweek is 8 hours per day for a total of 40 per week. It speaks of additional hours each day of planning, which could mean that the "school day" is the 6.5 hours of time that a student must be there. It speaks of 30 minutes for lunch, where the rest seems to be considered teaching time, so it could be that there are 6 hours of teaching time for that school, as calculated as I talked about above. But it also speaks about a teacher teaching for a 7th period is he/she wishes, suggesting that there may be a staggered schedule for students at some schools, meaning although the "school day" for a student may be only 6.5 hours, it could be as high as 7.5 hours for the teacher if the teacher wishes.

This is hard evidence - even proof - that the term "school day" means what it would be for a given student and *not* how many hours the school is actually "open for business" for all students, as well as *not* the contracted working hours of a teacher, the time per day he/she must be on campus.

Message was edited by: Paul A. Tanner III