Dallas Might Do Away With Longer Work Day for Teachers

After a new report showing a high level of dissatisfaction with a new rule that added 45 minutes to teachers’ workdays in Dallas, trustees of the Dallas Independent School District are considering a policy change that would eliminate it. But this will not mean that district schools will go back to the shorter school day desired by educators. Instead, if the proposal to remove the rule passes, the ultimate decision will rest with district superintendent Mike Miles.

The new longer day went into effect this fall over the protest of teachers who said that they already spend a lot of additional time on school-related duties such as grading and crafting lesson plans and classroom materials. Since the rule was put in place, a number of instructors say that how the additional time is used is counterproductive, resulting in many being forced to engage in busywork while not being allowed to actually engage with students or their parents and guardians. Alliance-AFT, the union which represents DISD teachers, has long lobbied for the rule’s repeal.

A survey released today by the organization mirrors concerns that have been heard from teachers: They don’t like the 45-minute extension. The online survey had 1,149 entries, with a vast majority of educators — 93 percent — saying that the extra 45 minutes has not been helpful. In addition, 92 percent felt that the extended day wouldn’t have a direct impact on improving student achievement or the quality of instruction. As for morale this school year, 98 percent felt teachers are discouraged, exhausted and ready to leave DISD.

The survey findings also show that if the 45-minute rule is kept in place, many teachers would like to see it used more effectively. Nearly half thought that the best way to use the additional time is for class preparation and planning. More than 70% of the respondents said that they currently use the time for meetings either with administrators or colleagues.

The number of teachers who are contemplating leaving the district because of the new rule is also discouraging. According to the Dallas News, more than 20% have given “strong consideration” to leaving their district classrooms at the end of the year, while an additional 32% gave leaving at least some thought. Only 16% of teachers polled said that they gave leaving no consideration at all.

Additional findings include:

*87 percent said that all teachers were required to complete the 45 minutes.
*40 percent said the 45 minutes is “sometimes” directly related to student improvement, while 36 percent said it was not and 24 percent thought that it was.
*55 percent described the morale at their campus and for themselves as “exhausted — feel that we’ve been working for 6-8 months after 2-3 weeks.” Thirty-four percent described it as “ready to leave the district.”

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