What a stupid-ass question.
Every profession has its conferences, and in some professions, there are many. When the conference happens, adjustments must be made because many go to said conference. The conference costs money, and those attending the conference usually get paid to go, and/or get their expenses covered, or get a stipend to defray the costs.
But when teachers try to act like professionals, questions are raised. Our local news “good question” spot, where a reporter takes on a question and tries to answer it, asks if the annual Minnesota Teacher’s Association/Union meeting, at which teachers engage in professionalization activities, is “worth it.” Schools take off Thursday and Friday. Some but not all teachers go to the meetings. Typically, newer teachers go to a few meetings in a row, then taper off their attendance, until they become specialized in some area where meeting attendance makes sense again.
In other words, teachers do EXACTLY what other professionals do. There is no way to have a multi-day conference without taking days of schools off, given the way schools are run. Asking if professionalization and a professional meeting is “worth it” is absurd. It is what is done, it is common practice, it is important, worthwhile, and the fact that it inconveniences parents who need to take care of their kids is not a function of the conference happening, but rather, a function of the schools being funded the way they are.
It is quite possible to have this professional meeting occur without kids being sent home for two days. But it will cost. But if the all suffering whiny faced boo-hoo tax payer is not willing to fund having reasonable classroom sizes and decent teaching resources, they are certainly not going to fund hiring the staff necessary to keep the kids in schools during the professional conferences.
The best solution, of course, is to treat the MEA meetings (as they are called, even though the professional association is no longer called “MEA”) as a holiday and take advantage of it. As we are doing right now, with Amanda off because she’s a teacher and Julia off because she’s a student, we are spending a long weekend at the lake. (Oh, and yes, Amanda does several days of professionalization work a year, including the MEA or other meetings now and then .. and she’s not taking today off anyway; She’s in the other room as I write grading fifty papers and arranging for an out-of-town field trip. ). Trying to hold teachers to task for having their own professional meeting is cynical, ill informed, and anti-education. In this regard, and in many other areas, teachers are not given the same basic respect that other professions demand. Is our culture really that anti-knowledge? Apparently so.