The day before Thanksgiving

Dear November 23rd,

Thank you for being a good day. We spent our time together by sleeping in to 8am. I spent much of you either listening to music, reading Zoo City by Lauren Beukes or spending time with my wife. I ended you by going to see my friend play with Kris Orlowski in a concert down in Seattle. Of course, I returned to my car to find a smashed window and you were about over by the time the cops showed up to take a report.

But I don’t blame you for that. It was hardly your fault. Still, I am very conflicted about you. See, because of you I heard a few people say “It must be nice to have a five-day weekend”.

And yes, I enjoyed the extra day off. But then again I didn’t. Because I didn’t get paid for you. You were what is called a ‘furlough day.’ Our state legislature, like many other states, is dealing with all sorts of money problems. And even though they know they aren’t properly funding education (see my earlier post for details) they’re not brave enough to find a way to even keep the funding we have. So this year teachers and/or students across the state lose a couple days of school. That’s two days less of learning, of planning, of evaluating, of collaborating.

It’s also problematic because it sends a wrong message to people out in the community. A lot of families like the extra day off since it makes their travel plans easier.  And other people see us teachers with the day off and it reinforces the stereotype of teachers getting all of this paid time off. But it isn’t paid: Since we started losing education funding we have lost a total of 5 days out of our contract thanks to the loss of funding from the state. But how do we make this case to the public? Washington Education Association declared November 28th A Day of Action to correspond with the first day of our state legislature’s special session to deal with the latest budget cuts.  I stood with a sign like many other teachers, but is it enough?

I look forward to next year when you’ll be the Friday after Thanksgiving and thus part of the normal break and I won’t have to be so conflicted. Coincidentally, I’m sorry you don’t get to actually be Thanksgiving next year – it’s all that February 29th’s fault. I hope to have some good news for you regarding education funding when next we meet. Enjoy your 365 days off (at least February 29th gives you an extra day off too) and I’ll see you in 2012.


Ryan Niman

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