Work to rule examples?

Grafton teachers are “working to rule” starting Monday. As the month goes on, please let me know of any examples of work to rule in action — was your child denied extra help or a reference letter for college? Drop me a line at greatergrafton (at) or add a comment to this thread!

Please note: the purpose of this exercise is not to attack teachers or the School Committee. I’m trying to walk a line right down the middle.

My middle schooler said only one teacher mentioned the work to rule to students — he felt he needed to explain why additional help would not be available for the month. My third grader didn’t mention it, but her teacher recently returned from maternity leave and is still learning everyone’s names; she probably didn’t want to start out with them on an “I can’t” level.

Thought for the afternoon — if after school help is an assumed part of a teacher’s role, why isn’t it specified in the contract? I’ve been writing about this stuff for years and have always wondered why no one ever closes that loophole.


6 thoughts on “Work to rule examples?

  1. The teachers should not be discussing their contract negotiations with the students. My daughter came home to say that a particular teacher told her class to come home and rile up the parents because they were not going to provide extra help any more, even at lunch time. Are they really in teaching to help the kids? I work in human services, and I do all kinds of things on my own time, because it is the right thing to do. Who is suffering, is it the School Committee? No, it is the children. Shame on you.

  2. My wife is a teacher (not in this Town). I am sick and tired of people who feel that a school teacher has a responsibility to work without pay. Here are a few thoughts – teachers are not paid for 40 hours a week – their tour of duty is much less (as is their salary). Teachers do not have summer vacations – they are NOT paid for time not worked. Most will have a portion of their salary held so they can get a summertime check. Most teachers have large out of pocket expenses for materials they need to do their job. They do not seek reimbursement because they know the Town is on a shoe string. When a teacher stays for after school help it is uncompensated. By the way, this is school not day care!! How many of us would remain at work two or three extra hours a day and expect no payment? I’m thinking not too many.

    Stop pitting school funding against municipal funding. Stop fighting amongst ourselves. Tell your State Representatives that you want the State to fund school mandates and that you do not want monies to the Cities and Towns from The Lottery proceeds capped.

    Working to rule means teachers are doing what we do every day – when the boss stops paying me – I go home. This is not a sickness – it is a symptom of a sickness. Tell State Government that money needs to flow to the Cities and Towns – we know best how it should be spent.

  3. Here’s the thing, Jim, but it’s an observation of the argument on my part —

    A lot of us do (or did) have salaried jobs where the day ends when the work does, not at a specific time. If we have kids, we’re spending money over the summer to send them to camp, because we can’t take off three months — paid or unpaid — to stay home with them.

    Summer break, plus three weeks during the school year, plus not having to finagle child care for the holidays many workplaces do not observe — that’s what a lot of people are seeing when they look at the life of a teacher. You can try to argue that it’s not a benefit and argue that a teacher is really only “getting paid” for nine months of the year but, here’s the thing — that nine months pay may be more than some people make in a full year.

    All of the above really needs to be acknowledged and, frankly, I’m bored with that debate. It never changes. Can both sides stop screaming that they are the martyrs, step into the shoes of the other, acknowledge that there are difficulties on both ends, and move the heck along?

    WHAT conditions need to be changed in the schools? WHAT are the specific changes requested for the contract? WHAT are teachers dealing with, student-wise, that they may not have been dealing with before? WHY does this require a mediator?

  4. I think one of the challenges for all involved is that it’s difficult to compare a teacher’s job to any other, for a number of reasons, including the fact that teachers are professionals but also members of a very powerful and very solid union.

    Most people, especially those in the professional ranks, aren’t paid to work certain hours on certain days at certain times as spelled out in a contract: We get paid for the outcome. If we can get our job done in 40 hours, sweet–turn off the lights and go home. If not, we work at night, we answer e-mails on Sundays and bring our laptops on vacation. Because if we really leave at 5 PM each day and leave behind an unfinished job, we’re going to be looking or a new one.

    The bottom line appears to be that many teachers find it necessary to do above-and-beyond hours to get the outcome expected of them: teaching kids what they need to know.

    So now aren’t they essentially abrogating their professional responsibilities to that outcome and falling back on the language in the contract? Haven’t they suddenly become union members first and teachers second?

    The work-to-rule action is punitive by nature, only the people being punished are innocent bystanders in all this (innocent bystanders who get one and only one chance to receive a primary or secondary education, by the way).

    I’d rather see the teachers picketing outside the homes of the school committee or the superintendent or the Board of Selectmen–that’s who their beef is with, right?

    Finally, Jim hints at a key point: The pool of money from which any raises will be taken is shrinking. And any raises the teachers union wins will be used as leverage by the police, the DPW, the town hall employees, etc. At some point the math simply doesn’t work without additional resources.

    Who wants to be the first to propose a Prop 2 1/2 override in this economy?

  5. I couldn’t agree with Keith more….
    “The bottom line appears to be that many teachers find it necessary to do above-and-beyond hours to get the outcome expected of them: teaching kids what they need to know.”
    I couldn’t disagree with Keith more…
    Hasn’t the School Committee essentially abrogated their professional responsibilities to not offer the teachers a fair contract?

    Why is the School Committee on the free ride seat of this blog discussion? Despite a lack of actual information, we praise them for theoretically standing tough financially while bashing teachers as theoretically lazy, selfish, and administers of punitive punishment on innocent bystanders. Yet we seem to neglect to realize that the consequence for the School Committee to hold to some sort of belt-tightening decision is exactly what’s happening – less than inspiring education. People should get paid for outcome, and our community also needs to pay for outcome.

  6. First off, I want to say I have great respect for all teachers and particularly those here in Grafton. Together, my kids have had 10 or so now and each one has been beyond outstanding, doing whatever necessary to teach my kids. They deserve to be treated as well as possible.

    Now, on to a riddle:

    Negotiations are supposed to be secret. Yet, we know about the raise (and no raise) proposals.

    What we don’t know is what the “language dispute” is all about.

    Why not?

    I have a hunch–and it’s just that–the hang-up might have something to do with the idea that, as Michael put it: “People should get paid for outcome.”

    The union has made sure we know what the financial logjam looks like, so why not reveal the details of the other sticking point?

    If the union thought the public would find it outrageous, wouldn’t they leak that as well?

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