That’s what I’ll be tomorrow and Friday. I plan to make the most of it, so don’t feel too sorry for me.

See you on Monday.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • TheTruthHurts

    “All the news that’s fit to print.”

    Monday-Wednesday that is.

    Sorry Katy – Sign of the times.

  • harlemmoon

    Well, there is a silver lining: you have a job to return to.
    Enjoy the time off.

  • Cranky Teacher

    I think it is interesting that nobody is talking about furlough for teachers instead of program and staff cuts.

    When it comes to school, how about quality over quantity?

  • Ms. J.

    I’m curious about this too. I hear other districts are doing several furlough days this year and I heard a worst case scenario of losing a month of school next year; I also heard that in several Colorado districts they have 4 day work weeks. Of course when other countries are educating 200 + days and we’re already well below that it would be controversial to cut days, but on the other hand it might be one of the more sensible options.

  • anon79

    I’d love to know how much the district could save for each furlough day. Not saying I’m recommending that we furlough, but certainly something that should be looked at… How much savings is there for each day the school year is shortened? How much savings is there for each day the entire central office has a furlough day (a day over Thanksgiving/Winter break wouldn’t have much if any effect on services)… Some offices should be exempt (B&G or whomever is watching school sites in case of emergency)…. Lets see the data and then make an educated decision based on what’s best for students.

  • Gordon Danning

    Wouldn’t a straight pay cut be better for students than a furlough, which is essentially a pay cut?

  • teacher

    Re: Gordon Danning’s “Wouldn’t a straight pay cut be better for students than a furlough, which is essentially a pay cut?”

    Not if teachers had to leave for other districts or careers because their pay in OUSD dropped even lower. If a teacher had furloughs, she/he could earn more money doing another job on those days and possibly keep working with the students she/he most loves to help.

  • gordon danning

    #7 —

    Really? How many teachers will be able to get an extra job one day a month? Or for a week? In this economy? That hardly seems likely, especially in this economy. Ditto re: jobs in other districts or other careers.

  • Turanga_teach

    Speaking as a teacher who works to adapt/individualize the pacing guides of all grades K-5 for special needs kids and has directly implemented two grades worth herself for entire academic years…we cannot lose those instructional days.

    The general public may not know this, but California’s already at a disadvantage because many of the curricula we adapt were developed in other states with different timetables: we have to knock out nine months of teaching in time for the April CSTs (which themselves often go beyond the scope and sequence of other states’ assessments because of the “mile wide, inch deep” nature of current CA standards.)

    It’s the tail wagging the dog, but with high stakes testing being what it is, this dog’s got the money. Fewer teaching days=less curriculum covered=worse CST performance=more cuts, sudden changes, and upheavals to schools.

    Like almost every other proposed solution short of radically re-viewing and re-creating public education in this country, the solution of furlough days/shorter school year has ripple effects that would make a dire situation ultimately worse.

  • J.R.

    This is the best that I could do:



    I think ability based classrooms are the right way to go, along with more focused leaner curriculum and depth of knowledge in core subjects(as the Japanese do). No more social promotion with familiarity, we must insist on promotion if/when mastery is achieved. Of course all this starts with competent capable teachers. I have witnessed teachers who do not follow standards or even keep a grade(planning book)because they say ” I have the grades in my head”(this teacher and tenured BTW and is pretty much untouchable, and knows it), these kinds ridiculous things are happening in our schools, and principals can’t be in multiple places at once to stop it.

  • teacher

    To Danning — I could EASILy fill my extra hours with more work … tutoring, Starbucks, babysitting, painting, or focusing on the side job I already do to make ends meet. I might not easily be able to find another job in another career, but I would start looking if my pay were cut without my days being cut.

    Maybe not all teachers are in the same boat as I am … but given a week off at the beginning of the summer, surely many teachers low on the payscale could do some extra work that would make up a little of the lost pay. If you’re at the top of the payscale, it might be harder to find temp jobs that would fill in the gaps of what you normally earn.

    Keep in mind, most teachers make less than half of what you probably do — if I am correct in thinking you are towards the top of the payscale with all your experience.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Reality check: at least a couple of those furlough days would come at the cost of preparation days immediately before and after the school year. We have been there before, and it is really aggravating to have to have no paid days to get ready for the school year and close up. There are basic expectations at the start and end of the school year, even to covering our shelves with paper and removing everything/packing away books, etc… but then we just had to do it all on our own time. I cannot support giving up those days, no matter what the consequences may be. As it is, I always need more time to open and close my classroom then I am paid for. I won’t do it all for free.

    Now, those PD days where we have to sit and listen to high priced consultants are another matter. Not only would I not have to suffer through them, the district would not have to pay them! Not that I am saying I would be okay with any furlough days (and I am not anywhere near the top of the salary schedule either), but let’s hope they at least have the sense to think carefully about them, so that we have longer breaks or something that is slightly more palatable.

  • Gordon Danning


    Actually, I am thinking of those near the bottom. I, personally, am better positioned than most to make extra money. But, let’s look at someone near the bottom of the pay scale, who by definition has only a
    bachelor’s degree and a few years of teaching. Why would anyone hire that person as a tutor?

    Moreover, the demand for tutoring is limited, and with hundreds of furloughed teachers offering those services, the supply would be so high that pay would plummet.

    The very bottom of the salary schedule pays $35 per hour. There aren’t a lot of temp jobs out there that pay that.

    So, for the majority of teachers out there, a furlough will be a pay cut, plain and simple. Plus, as Oakland Teacher points out, if they are at the beginning or end of the school year, most teachers will be spending some of them in their classrooms. (That won’t happen if they are once per month, but then tutoring won’t happen; who hires a tutor once per month?)

    The whole point of furloughs (as Katy can probably attest) is that employers tell workers, “Hey, we are cutting your pay, but at least you get some extra free time.” It is not, “This will give you time to moonlight.” That is great in most jobs, but not in teaching, because it results in students learning less.

  • teacher

    Mr. Danning — I will end my debate with you after this posting as we are not likely to see eye-to-eye.

    Obviously, furlough vs. a straight pay cut is going to be case-by-case in its effect on teachers. I would do better with a furlough week — or five longer weekends — than I would in taking simply a week’s pay cut and working those five days. I guess not everyone is as lucky as I am to know I can find work during that week. I do agree that if the furlough days came at the beginning of the school year, I am unlikely to be using those days to “moonlight” in the days that I actually am not even getting paid to work. (Moonlighting is when you are working on days you do get paid for another job, I think!)

    Again, I concede that not all teachers are in the same boat — but I am trying to give another voice to your assertion that a straight pay cut is better than furloughs.

    As for the effect on my students — I would be more likely to stay in my job if I had a furlough than a straight pay cut. And, I think my students would be better off keeping me as their teacher than getting a new teacher who doesn’t have my experience …. even if that new teacher is with them five days fewer a year.

    That won’t be true in every case. I just wanted to give a voice to teachers who would not want to work the same hours for less pay if given the option to work fewer hours for less pay.

  • teacher

    I meant to write “even if that new teacher is with them five MORE days a year.”

  • Pepe

    I don’t think a straight pay cut could be done without renegotiating contracts and would be more permanent. Furloughs can be done without contract negotiation and are temporary solutions–I thought this was the point…

  • Can’t believe it

    I am in a neighboring District with 8 furlough days last year. Although I filled the pay gap with work in our PAR program (tutoring/mentoring other teachers) make no doubt about it, the furlough days constitute a pay cut. And since our curriculum responsibilities are the same, we simply have less time to accomplish our task, prepare students for CSTs and cover the curriculum. The cruelest part is that it hurts kids, while shifting the burden of child care to parents or law enforcement. In retrospect, our union leaders should have asked for commensurate cut back in duties (required club sponsorship or attendance at activities). Furlough or not Districts count on teachers simply working harder with an even more Herculean effort to bridge the gap. Because teachers are teachers, we all worked just as hard but without the pay. Furloughs are a one-way gimmick which avoid more layoffs but depress the morale among the troops.

  • J.R.

    You could always join those of us who work 330+ days a year for less, and no guarantees at all.

  • Ms. J.

    That is pretty much what I had feared, Can’t. On a related note, I am curious about PAR. I think it seems very promising route to more authentic and helpful teacher evaluations. Has this been your experience? Katy, I would love to know more about such programs in the bay area if you have the chance to research/write about them.

  • gordon danning


    You would have more credibility if you didn’t make stuff up. 330+ days a year, really? That’s more than 6 days a week. Anyone who works that much for less than what a teacher makes gets little sympathy from me, since he or she must be awfully low skilled to have to work so hard for so little. The argument that teachers should make not a penny more than the stupidest, most ill-educated person on the block grows tiresome. How about an actual policy-based argument, as opposed to one based on petty jealousy?

  • Ms. J.

    330 days? Wow. My hat is off to you. It must be terrible to not even have weekends off, much less state holidays.

  • J.R.

    Between my normal job and free-lancing, I don’t have much down time, and I’m always doing projects(websites and so forth). That’s my reality, sink or swim. I know you could never comprehend it, what else is new? In the real world you do what has to be done, and just be glad you have something to do and are getting paid for it. Maybe teachers who have worked in the private sector would understand though(dog eat dog and all that).

  • J.R.

    Computers don’t care what day they break(holiday or not), and there are no holidays, when it comes to the vital information age.

  • Gordon Danning


    What, you think teachers don’t know what it means to put the hours in, no matter what, in order to get the job done? Really? Like, when grades are due, or when you promised to get papers back to kids?

    And, do you think I have never freelanced in the private sector, and dealt with drop-dead due dates? Think again.

    OBVIOUSLY lots of people do that. I took issue with your claim that you put in those hours, “for less” than teachers make. As my students say, I call “shenanigans.”

    More importantly, suppose you work twice as many hours as teachers do, for half the pay. SO WHAT? As I ask my students, “That implies that your argument is correct because __________????? If you can’t fill in the blank, there is something wrong.

  • J.R.

    A lot of what teachers do(or don’t do) has been codified into law(thanks to the union owned politicians)one of the few professions that does so(outside of traffic controllers and a few others). All this damage from the past few decades will not be reversed very quickly or easily(especially with the union standing in the way as they almost always do). You can call it whatever you like, it makes no real difference(reality is what it is).The next time anyone moans about underpaid this… or overworked that… or accountability this …. or working condition bla bla bla…….think about what you are really saying. You’re welcome!

  • J.R.

    The jury is still out on whether or not the teachers are getting the job done or not(its been sliding for decades now). Hard data doesn’t look very favorable at all. It’s not much more than babysitting in some cases.

  • Gordon Danning


    “A lot of what teachers do(or don’t do) has been codified into law” — Says who? Where is your authority for that statement? (BTW, in my class we follow Chicago/Turabian, so you will need to employ a footnote or endnote). I’ve taught for 15 years, and I have a law degree from Cal, and yet I have no knowledge of such a law.

    PS: I am the first to argue that many, many teachers do a pretty poor job. The same is true, of course, of many, many freelance computer troubleshooters, or whatever it is you ostensibly do. But, guess what? YOUR JOB IS WHOLLY IRRELEVANT TO THIS DISCUSSION. Either furloughs are sound public policy, or they are not; the pay and conditions of other jobs doesn’t change that, except to the extent that prospective teachers opt for those careers instead of teaching.

  • J.R.

    The example of my job was used to illustrate some very disturbing truths in the education system. Because teachers are essentially paid by taxpayers, what they do and what they fail to do matters. The system is broken, and no one wants to fix it. As far as the law goes, here is a little primer:




    By virtue of the fact that education is 40% or more of California budget(it used to be 50%), furloughs are necessary. As for education days missed for students, that’s directly related to politics and pay structure bestowed upon us by the union. If we(the taxpayers) want them(teachers) to work more we would have to pay them more, therefore the low number of negotiated learning days for students. It’s all related, and with the help of information people are beginning to catch on.

    Jealous No, overtaxed, shortchanged and pissed off yes!