My initial reaction was to get upset, but I was on vacation and chose to ignore him. Now that I'm back I'm over being upset, but I do feel an obligation, as an educator, to explain some math to him and anyone else who thinks this way, including people I know who call teaching a part-time job. (You know who you are!)
Let's start with how he got that number. 365 days of the school year and students need to attend 180 days.
365 - 180 = 185
But there's a pretty big flaw to this number; students go to school for 180 days, not teachers. Oops! As a teacher, I start school two weeks before students and stay two weeks after students. So if you count those work days that's four weeks times five work days which is another 20 days.
185 - 20 = 165
If you're with me so far, please send a friendly thank you note to the teacher who explained arithmetic to you. :)
Next point. of those 165 days we get off there are 52 Sundays and 52 Saturdays. I know not every job gets out for the weekends, but most white collar jobs do, so let's just count that up front.
165 - 104 = 64
Holidays are also days that teachers get off, Christmas, New Year, Rosh Hashanah, Thanksgiving, Easter Monday, President's day, MLK day, even Columbus day. Again this schedule is similar to most white collar Americans. My school calendar has about 16 days of holidays (not including weekends because I'm not double counting, and not including spring break, because that's not a national holiday.)
64 - 16 = 48 (Are you still with me?)
While talking with this man on my vacation, I asked him what he does for a living and he is a bar tender. Well that brought up several other important points. Let's address the obvious one first: How many hours a day do bar tenders work? In order to make sure I'm comparing apples to apples, let's just drop the bar tending angle for a moment and consider other office jobs.
An 8 hour day with a lunch and some break times makes about 7 hours of work per day. As a teacher I work with students for that time, and I have grading and preparation when I go home, making my day about two hours longer than a standard office job. But you might say an office job also requires some prep time before going in, and I'll concede that point. In an effort to be fair, I'll give the teachers an extra hour per day of work, although I know for many it is much more than this. This is when the math gets fun. If each of the 180 days of school when students are present, a teacher does 1 extra hour of work that is 180 extra hours. If an average work day is 7 hours of work time, that means teachers do 25.7 extra days of work over the course of the school year.
48 - 25.7 = 20.3
Did you catch that? I did that math error on purpose. If you did catch it, good work! You probably had a great teacher somewhere along the line.
48 - 25.7 = 22.3
In addition to this, teachers have in-service days that are worked into their schedules throughout the year. Students enjoy those days off, but teachers don't. While some of that is worked into the four extra weeks before and after students arrive, some days are in the actual schedule. It's not many additional days, about 6 per year.
22.3 - 6 = 16.3
So we're down to 16.3 days off per year more than the average white collar worker. That's about 3 full weeks of weekdays. Not bad, and how much time do you get for paid vacation each year? Teachers probably get less.
Two more points to consider here and I'll be done with my rant.
1. Education level: To get considered for teaching, in most cases, you need to have a 4 year college degree and agree to get a master's degree (or equivalent) within the first five years of teaching. That is about 7 years of post-secondary education almost half of it being done in those 16.3 days off for the first five years of teaching at their own expense. Also some schools send teachers to specialized training during those summer weeks to better meet student needs, and some teachers choose to spend large portions of their income and their time during the summer months preparing for what they will do the next school year, which often involves taking courses or classes, purchasing school supplies and classroom tools.
2. Impact: Teachers train up the future generation. That's a pretty important job. Sometimes jumping through an increasing number of political hoops, teachers go to work each day and make a difference. I met a man who lived in Guatemala City, had an SUV and modern conveniences in his home. When I asked him how he was able to have wealth in one of the most impoverished countries in the world, he responded without hesitation: "Education and opportunity." We all owe some of our success and accomplishments to those people who have chosen to go into the field of education. I think you would be hard pressed to find many jobs that are more important than teachers.
If that man I met ever has children of his own, I hope he will see the value in what the their teachers do for them. I hope they are fantastic teachers who look at his children as precious and go above and beyond to help them reach their potential. And I sincerely hope he never marginalizes them by speaking to them the way he talked to me. But if he does, perhaps some educator along the way can do a quick math lesson with his son or daughter, who can then go home and help him get his numbers straight.