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A letter in the May 22 Tomahawk Leader:
To The Editor:
My wife has been a librarian/reading teacher/computers teacher for Tomahawk Middle School for nine years. Her days are a continuous juggling act between teaching classes, helping teachers with technology problems, and keeping the library up to date. She is a professional, and as a professional one would think she would have the freedom to choose when to take a personal day. However, this is not the case at Tomahawk Public Schools.
Two or three weeks ago, she made a request to Superintendent Al Prosser for June 5 off. Our 5-year-old daughter was having a field trip which required a parent attend ... I was going to be out of town for my uncle's memorial service, so my wife stepped up. She had personal days remaining, so we did not foresee any problems. However, the past couple of weeks have put my wife on a virtual bungee cord of e-mails between Mr. Prosser and Jen Pfannerstill, the teacher's union representative. It seems there are extreme reservations about having a teacher take any personal days during the last week of school, the first week of school or days immediately before or after a school break. I do not know of any other profession where it is dictated when and how a personal day is used. It seems the School District looks upon our teachers as children who need to ask for permission to go anywhere. Actually, that isn't quite accurate, for it is common for students to take a week, or even two, for family vacations ... So it would seem teachers at Tomahawk Public Schools have perhaps the least amount of freedom in the county when it comes to taking time off, with the possible exception of inmates at Lincoln Hills.
Now it has been decided that my wife may take the day off, provided she pay for her own substitute. … This latest ploy has driven me over the edge. To think my wife has to not only jump through hoops … but require that she dish out $80 to spend a day with her kids as if she were renting a pontoon boat for an afternoon pleasure cruise is completely outrageous. Teachers are always told that children's needs come first, but I guess that is only if those children are not their own. ... What about all the time teachers spend on school that falls outside of contracted hours? My wife goes on overnight field trips to Trees for Tomorrow and Fort Wilderness on a volunteer basis, as well as chaperoning school dances. ... Just last week she came back from a dance at nearly 10 o'clock because a few students hadn't been picked up. … The point is my wife does not slack off on her responsibilities to her students, so why do our children need to take a back seat?
This whole situation makes me recall the old Seinfeld episode of the soup kitchen where the customers need to tread carefully and do everything just so, or the chef yells out, "No soup for you!" Well, Mr. Prosser, you can keep your soup; because what you are dishing out I have no stomach for.
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