Hands off their Saturdays

Published 10:39 pm Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Nobody likes to go to work on Saturday. Entire industries are devoted to the idea that weekends were created for leisure, that no American should have to put in work hours on Saturdays or Sundays, because they should be out living the high life, instead.

Of course, it’s often overlooked that people in the service and retail industries, especially, sacrifice their weekends for the opportunity to serve those Americans devoted to spending them in pursuit of leisure. That’s part of the reality of free enterprise — most of our leisure activities require others to work.

Another reality: The era of a guaranteed five-day workweek is long gone. Sometimes there’s a project that needs to get done or a shipment that needs to get out the door or a deadline that has to be met that cannot reasonably be done in five days. Your boss at some point in your working career (maybe more than once) will probably tell you she needs you to work on Saturday. And not some Saturday down the road that you’ve got plenty of time to prepare for. This Saturday, the one that will require you to cancel plans and get your mother-in-law to look after the kids for the day.

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That’s what life is like for the average American worker.

That’s not what life is like, however, for the average American teacher. During this winter of unscheduled snow days, the average American worker has seen his teacher friends cheerfully staying home when the roads became slick. As the average workers crept in their cars to and from workplaces that continued to operate despite the conditions, those average workers listened on the radio to the long list of weather-related school closings.

And now that the weather is turning toward spring (we hope), those average workers are hearing the predictable wails of teachers and administrators who face the prospect of working on Saturdays, on “holidays” like Presidents Day or later in June in order to make up for some of those unexpected (but paid) days off.

Suffolk Public Schools has, in fact, come up with a scheme that would allow it to avoid holding school on Saturday or after the previously scheduled end of the year: Three early dismissal days at the end of the year will now be full days for students, so they’ll get the state-mandated number of instructional hours under their belts.

Most average American workers can easily recall how unproductive those last half-days of school usually are. Exams are pretty much done for the year, new material is normally not covered and students often find themselves watching movies, holding class parties or doing other “creative exercises.” Whether any actual teaching or learning takes place during those extra hours is a question we’ll let parents answer for themselves at the end of the year.

But at least nobody will have to be at school on Saturday.