I have a lot of friends that are teachers. I haven't really ever asked them what their actual job contract (if you call it that) says and how it works. I think it's time that I ask that question so if you are one and are reading this, please feel free to respond!
According to national statistics, there are approximately 3 million primary and secondary teachers in the United States. As of 2009, US adult population was 312,560,000. With an estimated rate of 10% unemployment (stabbing at it), that would indicate that 31,256,000 people (approximately) don't currently work in the US. All of this is to say that 1% of the working adults in the United States hold a job in primary and secondary education. So for us math majors (NOT), that would indicate that the other 99% of the working population in this country does NOT have a job in education.
Okay, I'll get to the point. I need to understand why schools, who at least in my area of the country work 9 months a year (August - May), have so many days off of work DURING the school year. It is not unusual for our district to give an average of three days a month off for "in-service days". For those of you unaware, this means the teachers have planning days, additional education for them to do their jobs. Apparently this requires them to take off of work to do so. This is the only industry in which I believe does this. Typically, most of us are required to squeeze in additional training and learning opportunities outside of our 8 hour, 40 hour a week paychecks.
It's not as though they are not awarded PTO (paid time off) in addition to the generous holiday schedule, particularly around Christmas. I know you are probably stressed out teaching our kids. Heck, I would need every FRIDAY off if I had to deal with them full time! But each time you have a day off is another interruption in the learning cycle they experience.
In Japan, the number of teachers is 416,823 with a population of 127,076,183. Teachers in that country represent 3.3% of the population. The school year in Japan begins in April and classes are held from Monday to either Friday or Saturday, depending on the school. The school year consists of three terms, which are separated by short holidays in spring and winter, and a one month long summer break. "In-service" days are required of teachers independent of the school schedule. In secondary education (our middle school), most school days start at 7 am and end at 6 pm. It's no wonder we struggle to achieve international jobs (or quite frankly US jobs) with this level of competition in the world. And this is just one country!
So on Tuesday, November 8th, little guy's teacher is going to get smarter and work harder when she returns. Hmmm, we shall see.