As a teacher, I try to constantly remind myself that I’m caring for the sons and daughters of other people. The same way I drop my daughter off in her classroom every day, parents entrust me to care for their children. I am reminded of the importance of the work that I do to prioritize my students’ learning and well being, upholding the same standard that I want for my daughter.
Any educator who is also a parent or caregiver of their own children understands the challenges and incredible responsibilities that come with balancing two huge roles. Among these include: being able to volunteer in their own childrens’ classrooms while ensuring that their own are taken care of, managing drop off and after school schedules while getting to work on time, and having the energy and bandwidth to give our own children the same love and attention that we show to our students. It’s an exhausting daily process.
In California, teachers are expected to take unpaid leave and use their sick and vacation days when they have children. A new bill introduced this past week would “require all school districts, charter schools and community colleges to provide at least six weeks of paid leave for teachers, other academic employees and classified employees for pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth and recovery,” according to an Ed Source article on the matter. Assembly Bill 500 was approved by the State Senate and is currently waiting for the Governor’s review. Supporters of the bill argue that this state-mandated policy will support recruitment and retention efforts for teachers, given the current shortage in place in California. If more teachers feel supported in their desire to start or add to their families, they won’t be forced to choose between that and their careers.
Further, the Ed Source article went on to cite the author of the bill, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego in saying that “unpaid leave means some women aren’t able to take the necessary time off during their pregnancies and after childbirth for recovery.” The body needs time to recover physically and mentally after childbirth, not to mention the importance of newborns and infants being connected and close to their parents during such a crucial developmental stage. No teacher should have to choose between their career and caring for a family; the process to do both should be facilitated and encouraged.
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