Paid summer breaks and other common myths about teachers

By Dakin Andone, CNN

As teachers in several states across the United States protest for higher pay and more funding for public education, lawmakers and onlookers are debating whether teachers deserve more money.

But many of the arguments against teachers’ demands are based on misconceptions about the teaching profession and how they’re compensated.

Here are a few common myths about teachers and their pay.

MYTH: Teachers work less than other professionals

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average length of an American school day is just over 6.5 hours. But teachers work much longer than that.

Kristen Emanuel, a 7th grade teacher in New York City, said she regularly works 11 hours a day. Nine of those are spent at school.

More than 3.5 million full-time teachers in the United States are required to work 38.2 hours a week on average, according to the NCES. But when taking into account all other school-related activities teachers participate in — like after school conferences, staff meetings and extracurricular programs — they actually end up working 53.3 hours during a typical work week.

For most other professions, a typical American work week in 2017 was 42.3 hours, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These teachers work up to 6 jobs. Now they’re fed up and ready to walk out.

Emanuel stays at the school late to work on lesson plans and prepare for the next day, she said, knowing it will be harder to get work done at home with her three kids.

When she finally leaves work, Emanuel makes her kids dinner and puts them to bed. “And the second they’re down, I start grading papers and doing lesson plans for the next day,” she said, adding she also spends 4 to 5 hours grading papers on the weekend.

“I love my students, but it’s also emotionally exhausting, physically exhausting and mentally taxing,” Emanuel said.

Leslie Busch, a special education teacher in Kentucky, agrees. “It’s not a 9 to 5 and leave-your-stuff-at-work kind of job,” she said. “You live it. You breathe it. It’s there with you all the time.”

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