This morning I read an article in the Huffington Post about how CPS has been losing millions to teachers that are cashing out at retirement on unused sick and vacation days. Now, my girlfriend is a hard working teacher, and I'm usually quick to defend against any suspicion of teacher perks, however this seems like a gaping flaw. I understand the idea of rewarding teachers that don't take advantage of days off, but let's remember sick days and personal days are designed to protect teachers (or any worker for that matter) against losing salary when unexpected life things come up. If they have to use them, they're protected, they get paid. If they don't use them, well, then they still get paid. In no other industry can one cash out on unused sick or vacation days. And as a result, CPS is paying out millions when that money can be used to not lay off teachers. Or to hire more teachers. Or to pay teachers more when they start teaching an extra 90 minutes a day. Award teachers for doing more! Not for just fulfilling expectations of showing up to work when they can.
And in knowing a teacher intimately, every teacher knows that missing a day actually creates a lot more catch up work. There doesn't necessarily need to be an incentive to deter teachers from taking a sick day. Last week my girlfriend was out sick on Monday and spent the rest of the week catching up.
Teachers get bashed enough by politicians, and I hate to add any more criticism to the field, however I felt the urge to throw down my thoughts that this act of cashing out on unused sick days is an inefficient way to reward the hard work of teachers. I'd rather that money be used to help balance the budget so that teachers don't continually face the fear of getting RIFed each spring.
But we don't have to worry, Rahm Emanuel just found out about this and he's not happy. The King of Chicago will certainly have his way with this.