Truesee's Daily Wonder

Truesee presents the weird, wild, wacky and world news of the day.

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Teachers asked to punch time clocks what does this mean for the profession



Teachers are now being asked to punch time clocks. What does that mean for their profession?

Valerie Strauss



School reformers in recent years have talked a lot about ensuring that all students have “high-quality” teachers — though they have both fudged the definition of what “quality” actually means and, in many cases, taken steps that many teachers feel are assaults on their profession.

Those actions include scapegoating teachers for problems that are beyond their control, implementing evaluation systems that are unreliable and unfair and emphasizing the importance of standardized tests to the point that classroom time is dominated by teaching to the test.

There have also been repeated attempts to undermine due-process protections for teachers as well as tenure and reduce the power of organized labor. Right now, the Supreme Court is considering a case that may deliver the biggest blow to organized labor in decades. The case asks the court to make it impossible for unions to charge fees to nonunion members who are still covered by the contract benefits that unions win through bargaining.

Now, in North Carolina and some other states, there is something new that teachers believe is further undermining their profession: requiring them to use a time clock that would, among other things, suggest that they work only a set number of hours a day. What teacher really does that?

Here’s a look at this and what it means to the profession. This was written by Chris Gilbert, who was a teacher of English at a high school and community college before entering a doctoral program in education. His work has appeared on this blog and in the National Council of Teachers of English’s publication, English Journal. He is a 2013 recipient of NCTE’s Paul and Kate Farmer Writing Award.

 Where have all the teachers gone?

Chris Gilbert

Public educators in North Carolina have certainly faced their share of challenges in recent years. These challenges have included a multiyear salary freeze, the loss of due process rights and advanced degree pay for some teachers, and wages that remain distressingly low. Unsurprisingly, North Carolina is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s worst states for teachers.

As a former North Carolina teacher, I readily empathize with educators in my state, and I strive to stay aware of new challenges confronting them. Relatedly, I recently learned that teachers in multiple North Carolina school districts are now required to clock in and out of school each day through a virtual time clock in “TimeKeeper,” a payroll software system.

After learning of this requirement, I wondered: How does punching a time clock impact the way these teachers perceive themselves? How do these salaried professionals feel about this mandated practice?

To explore these questions, I initiated a qualitative study and interviewed four experienced public educators who work in a school district that requires teachers to clock in and out with TimeKeeper. I also contacted a number of other districts in North Carolina to learn about teacher time clock requirements throughout the state. I discuss my findings below.

The deprofessionalization of teachers

Regarding the mandate to punch a time clock, several teachers I interviewed characterized it as deprofessionalizing. One stated, “When I first heard about it … I felt disempowered and felt like I was not viewed as a professional. Now I just accept it and move on, but feel resentful.” Similarly, another noted that time clock use seems at odds with teachers’ professional status.

Educators in North Carolina have experienced a series of attacks on their professional status in recent years, and teachers’ interview responses suggest that time clock use continues this assault. In light of this, one must consider the consequences of shifting the status of teachers from that of “professional” to “nonprofessional.”

These consequences include lower wages, diminished health insurance plans and other benefits, and the erosion of educators’ social prestige and political power. Additionally, lowering the status of teachers is an ideal way to incentivize current and prospective educators to take their talents to the private sector. Much of this has already occurred in North Carolina, but policies and practices that explicitly frame teachers as nonprofessionals threaten to worsen these outcomes.

A climate of distrust

The teachers I interviewed repeatedly associated time clock use with feelings of distrust. Here are some of their comments:

* “There have been multiple conversations [among colleagues] with themes of teachers constantly feeling a lack of trust by administration and state rules/laws. This just reinforces that theme … I feel less trusted.”

“[Time clock use] seems to, on some level, suggest that we need to be more closely monitored … [that] we aren’t doing what we should be doing.”

* “It’s just that many of us no longer feel trusted to ‘earn our keep’ without the watchful eye of TimeKeeper on us.”

Overall, these statements suggest that the use of a time clock creates the perception that some “higher-ups” (administrators, politicians, etc.) view teachers as deficient, untrustworthy workers who require close supervision. Conversely, interview responses also suggest that this practice encourages teachers to cast a wary eye toward administrative and political figures. In this context, distrust appears to be reciprocal.

Data, uncertainty and the misrepresentation of teachers

I was especially struck by this comment from one of the teachers: “[Time clock use] is meant to provide on-site administration with a snapshot of relative entry/exit times for each faculty member. I assume these entry/exit times are stored at Central Office for HR [Human Resources] purposes as well. It is actually unclear how the data is interpreted, used, stored, and if it could be used by HR in a negative (or positive) way.”

While I did not investigate how or where time clock data is stored, it is logical to assume that this data is maintained in some capacity. This raises questions concerning how long it is stored, who has access to it and if it could be used to penalize teachers.

While the possibility certainly exists for this data to be used in positive ways (some teachers, for example, hoped that time clock use would highlight the many hours they routinely work beyond the required 40-hour workweek), it is easy to envision how anti-public education entities could weaponize this information.

For instance, teachers clock in and out when they enter and exit the school building. This only records the time they work while at school; importantly, the additional work that teachers typically complete at home is not reflected in the aggregated data. Consequently, the potential exists for this data to be used by policymakers to misrepresent teachers’ total work hours and justify lower wages and other harmful initiatives.

A form of privatization

One teacher said, “I do feel this [the time clock] is yet another attempt to normalize the privatization of the public education system, which now includes TimeKeeper as well as taxpayer-funded private ‘voucher schools’ and being urged to treat our students like ‘customers.’ … For those of us who’ve been in the profession awhile, it’s yet another example of the corporatization of our once noble profession.”

Virtual time clock applications (TimeKeeper’s is one of many) are typically developed and marketed by private companies. As one teacher suggested, the distribution of this software to public districts indicates yet another form of privatization as private entities extend their reach into the public domain to secure new profit sources.

Framing schools as businesses, and educators as suspect employees who require supervision, creates a need for accountability software that is used to monitor workers while also establishing a continuous income stream for private companies.

Overall, my interviews with educators suggest that teacher time clock use is a consequential, demoralizing practice. Through additional research, I learned that teachers are using time clocks in at least 15 North Carolina school districts. While not all of these districts require teachers to clock in and out (some districts require both actions, while others only require teachers to clock in), the existence of this requirement in any form is troubling. Unfortunately, I also learned that teachers in other states are grappling with this practice.

In closing, when viewed in isolation, teacher time clock use is undoubtedly problematic. However, when viewed in relation to the many demoralizing practices and policies that North Carolina educators have endured in recent years, this practice takes on a heightened significance. In a state where teachers’ salaries persistently lag the national average, and where more than half of all public educators work an additional job to make ends meet, mandates must be issued with care.

If we believe that attracting and retaining talented educators is truly important, we must ensure that educational policies and practices promote trust, respect and professionalism. Requiring salaried, professional educators to punch a time clock ultimately undermines this goal.

Very good entry and baseline commentary. Even within the best of school districts, teachers are still under paid and this is grossly exacerbated in other already under funded minority districts. Then, we have people like Betsy DeVos who is further compounding this issue with trying to privatize and move to more charter education systems. Who can afford that? Who's gonna pay the teachers when we already have a funding problem? I'm not sure if it's still in effect but, beginning just six months ago, she had to have special protection from the U.S. Marshals Service at a cost of $1M per month! What??!! Are you kidding me? Do you know how much the educators would appreciate some of that for the jobs THEY do? Unbelievable...just unreal. *Now, we're wanting to these same teachers to obtain a CHL, purchase a weapon, go to the range and train, become deputized, and then perform an additional service well beyond their main scope of work which is to educate students. So, now, they arrive at school with their syllabus on one side and their weapon holstered on the other...while still being well under paid.

Hell, these teachers cannot even get reimbursed for their own out of pocket expenses for school supplies! To be fair, the amount spent on average is debated and Feinstein did eventually acknowledge this once they questioned her numbers. However, the general sentiment of her point was well taken because teachers should have absolutely zero problem being reimbursed for provable school expenses. In fact, if you really wanna be honest, teachers shouldn't even have to use their own money UNLESS it's something more personal and specific for them in their daily teaching. What is wrong with our country and our country not taking care of our educators THAT ACTUALLY SPEND MORE TIME WITH THE KIDS THAN LOTS OF PARENTS DO? Unreal. Oh, but it seems that the whole teacher carrying a gun deal has way more clout than simply paying teachers more for their efforts an the importance thereof. What do I mean? Well, Cadet Bone Spurs wants teachers to be paid more if they carry a gun. Yeah, if the teacher is totin' then we're promotin'. What about those who choose not to carry for a plethora of good reasons? They still get nothing, huh?

Okay, well, here's my question. What about the police officers that obviously carry a service weapon BUT, they don't teach and educate kids all day? Sure, they're constantly exposed to the dangers of our sick society but, so are the teachers now. Teachers would then be responsible for educating their students while ALSO PROTECTING AND SERVING just like police officers. How much is this additional responsibility worth? Most of all, is it fair? I'd also like to mention that not one of the school mass shootings was a result of any MS-13 gang member which Bone Spurs continues to rail about. In fact, it wasn't a Muslim either. *It is homegrown American white males that are conducting all these massacres which they are discussing legislation for. Think about's a fact.

Why is the idea of more money dependent upon teacher carrying a gun? Let's go even further. What happens, God please forbid, if a day care get's shot up? Even a nursing home? Do we propose paying nurses and day care personnel more money if they carry some heat? Below, I've included the corresponding articles relevant to my commentary.
Post a Comment

<< Home


June 2024   May 2024   April 2024   March 2024   February 2024   January 2024   December 2023   November 2023   October 2023   September 2023   August 2023   July 2023   June 2023   May 2023   April 2023   March 2023   February 2023   January 2023   December 2022   November 2022   October 2022   September 2022   August 2022   July 2022   June 2022   May 2022   April 2022   March 2022   February 2022   January 2022   December 2021   November 2021   October 2021   September 2021   August 2021   July 2021   June 2021   May 2021   April 2021   March 2021   February 2021   January 2021   December 2020   November 2020   October 2020   September 2020   August 2020   July 2020   June 2020   May 2020   April 2020   March 2020   February 2020   January 2020   December 2019   November 2019   October 2019   September 2019   August 2019   July 2019   June 2019   May 2019   April 2019   March 2019   February 2019   January 2019   December 2018   November 2018   October 2018   September 2018   August 2018   July 2018   June 2018   May 2018   April 2018   March 2018   February 2018   January 2018   December 2017   November 2017   October 2017   September 2017   August 2017   July 2017   June 2017   May 2017   April 2017   March 2017   February 2017   January 2017   December 2016   November 2016   October 2016   September 2016   August 2016   July 2016   June 2016   May 2016   April 2016   March 2016   February 2016   January 2016   December 2015   November 2015   October 2015   September 2015   August 2015   July 2015   June 2015   May 2015   April 2015   March 2015   February 2015   January 2015   December 2014   November 2014   October 2014   September 2014   August 2014   July 2014   June 2014   May 2014   April 2014   March 2014   February 2014   January 2014   December 2013   November 2013   October 2013   September 2013   August 2013   July 2013   June 2013   May 2013   April 2013   March 2013   February 2013   January 2013   December 2012   November 2012   October 2012   September 2012   August 2012   July 2012   June 2012   May 2012   April 2012   March 2012   February 2012   January 2012   December 2011   November 2011   October 2011   September 2011   August 2011   July 2011   June 2011   May 2011   April 2011   March 2011   February 2011   January 2011   December 2010   November 2010   October 2010   September 2010   August 2010   July 2010   June 2010   May 2010   April 2010   March 2010   February 2010   January 2010   December 2009   November 2009   October 2009   September 2009   August 2009   July 2009   June 2009   May 2009   April 2009   March 2009   February 2009   January 2009   December 2008  

Powered by Lottery PostSyndicated RSS FeedSubscribe