The National Last Day of School aka My Festivus

The Last Day of School is a day celebrated by teachers and students alike. For me, it might as well be a national holiday! I think of it as “My Festivus.”

I like to travel through life unassuming. I don’t claim to be more deserving than anyone else and I try to not judge people who have benefits in their life I feel may be unearned or unjustified. It’s much easier that way and I believe it makes me a better person. Despite my best intentions however, many people judge teachers for having Summer off. Before I launch into this, here’s my background that I hope will earn me a little clout with my reader:

I worked 6 years in college for a Master’s degree in English and 3 more years to earn a California teaching credential. This is academic and a license in nature. I can lose it if I am negligent in any way. Getting accepted into two different university graduate programs required character references, passing scores on a set of quite long tests in both writing and the other standard academic areas. I work with 10 year old children August to June and risk losing my credential if I am negligent in any way of meeting their needs and accurately assessing their skills. In short, it’s a professional, licensed, highly academic career that affects the lives and futures of children and their families.

Although I don’t expect respect from my culture, it seems reasonable it would exist. In some circles it does not. In fact, some circle even denegrate and blame teachers for the ills of society. This blame extends to the irrational preception that we get paid to do nothing over the Summer. Teachers sign a contract each year to work August-June. It is a 185 day contract. Our contract works the same way a construction foreman’s would. He makes a bid for a job, the buyer accepts the contract that is based on either the job or the number of days. Teachers’ contracts are based on both but on paper it reads 185 days. Based on the amount we are paid for those days, we choose to accept or decline the contract. 

Most teachers have a union which helps them negotiate a fair contract. There is also a lot of rhetoric out there against unions. I’ve never understood that, unions are good for everyone. I wish every profession had a union. It gives a voice to the individual. The days we are NOT paid for are ours to do with as we please. We don’t get paid to have Summer break. Many teachers continue working Summer jobs when their contract is up. Others don’t need extra money and can choose to have the luxury of a Summer vacation. I’ll say one more time to my detractors out there, teachers do not get paid over Summer vacation. Districts chop their annual pay into 12 months which makes it appear as if they are getting paid when they do not work but that is not the reality.

Teachers all over the country are celebrating the Last Day of School holiday. To my brothers and sisters doing so, feel no shame. You are highly valued by this writer, millions of people who respect teachers, and colleague! Now find some water and go swim, guilt-free!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Your Festivus.”

Author: Damien Riley

I'm a blogger, film critic, & podcaster with an MA in English from California State University, Fullerton. I teach public school, 4th grade as my primary occupation. My views on films and life are usually headstrong and often 'left of center' on movies and life, but I have respect for the other side. I married my high-desert princess (now my queen). We have 3 children.