Vacation Creep

So far this school year, my kids have had five holidays. Winter break starts on Thursday, Dec. 20 -- and school doesn't start again until more than two weeks later. By then, they will have had 71 full days of school and 16 vacation days. Plus a couple of sick days, here and there. That's less than five school days for every day off.

Not exactly a real world scenario. In my last job, I had 10 paid vacation days a year, a sprinkling of national holidays like Thanksgiving and July 4th, balanced against roughly 243 days worked. With means I ALREADY would have used up all vacation taking care of my kids during their school breaks before the school year was half over.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love vacation days with my kids. School is not meant to be daycare. I also am cognizant of the fact that teachers and administrative staff need days off, too, to recharge their batteries.

But for parents who work full-time, this "vacation creep" from our kids' schools plays havoc with work/life balance. We all know how tough it can be to find short-term supervision for school-age children. And even accommodating workplaces cannot have dozens of employee children running around for days on end. And for some businesses, their "busy season" coincides with the same times schools schedule long breaks.

I don't think the disruption is good for children, either. The interruptions to school routine disrupts kids' ability to learn. Unpredictable temporary childcare, extended play dates and time alone at home stresses kids as well as parents.

I wish schools could offer a solution, parents would organize co-ops or more mini-camps existed. Maybe certain teachers, coaches or after-school staffers who want or need extra income could run a vacation school, complete with a few hours of academic games or stimulation, for kids whose parents don't have unlimited flexibility. Maybe -- now this makes my wish list -- far-thinking companies could offer on-site holiday camps for employee children.

Do you have innovative solutions? How do you manage your kids' time off when you don't have any?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  November 30, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
Previous: A Crash Course on Workplace Re-Entry | Next: Kids, Cooking and Holiday Balance


Add On Balance to Your Site
Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
Get This Widget >>


Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



First!

Posted by: leslie4 | November 30, 2007 7:19 AM

Leslie, I don't think you can be first on your own blog! :)

I have noticed the same thing. The children at the public school here got the entire week for Thanksgiving. You know what everyone did? They took Friday off too so they could beat the rush and get even more days off. My kids go to a private school that gets out earlier in the summer, but has far fewer days off. I think Leslie's points about continuity are important. I find it annoying that they say they don't have time for music or gym, but the kids sure do seem to have a lot of days off. I'm sure the teacher's union negotiated a certain number of work days, but honestly, it seems like a lot. Maybe someone is on the school board and can shed some light on this issue.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | November 30, 2007 7:29 AM

Do you remember what it was like to be in school? The learning process can't go on 10 hours a day 365 days a year. The brain needs a break in order to process new information and make room for new stuff. Plus kids need time to just be kids and play in the leaves, make snow forts and stare at the ceiling. That is what these breaks give them. granted it may take creative planning to cover those breaks where the child is too young to be home alone, but as you mentioned there are already mini-camps and co-ops.

Posted by: happydad | November 30, 2007 7:33 AM

I am not sure that there is actual creep. At least in my state, the law mandates something like 180 days of classroom instruction. And teacher development days do not count towards the requirement.(might be wrong on the actual number.) Even if we have something like a hurricane, (none this year, thank God!) the days are made up.


BTW, today is the last day of hurricane season!

Posted by: Fred | November 30, 2007 8:09 AM

On the other side, I work from home and I'm a single mom. When my kids are home on vacation my schedule changes and my telephone calls to editors, or even friends, have to be done from a locked bathroom! They're too old for camps and vacation-day programs. That also means they are old enough to keep themselves busy, but it does change things up.

The best vacation days are the ones we make for ourselves. We did it recently -- both kids stayed home (it was a mental health day for us) and I did no work. We stayed in pajamas, ate lunch together on the couch in front of the tv and interacted all day long!

Everyone (including me) had too much to catch up on the very next day - but it was a good thing.

My friends who work outside the home have a constant issue with care on those "teacher institute days."

And now we're heading into potential snow-day territory!!!

Amy Nathan

Posted by: asng3017 | November 30, 2007 8:11 AM

A daycare nearby here does before and after school care. My kids are not in school yet, but I notice that when there are scheduled days off school (with the exception of public holidays) or snow days, that this daycare takes the schoolkids on for all-day care. They show a schedule of charges for such extra care. I don't know how they manage the staffing for this, but it seems like a great idea.

Posted by: jcadam | November 30, 2007 8:16 AM

I couldn't agree more. Last year I started a new job in February--days before those horrible ice storms that shut school down for a week. Then spring break came, then summer. I was able to take my kids on an actual vacation for 3 days in June then had to wait until August to accumulate two more so I could cover half the week when camp was over but school was still a week away.

I think the idea of a co-op of parents taking turns with a group of kids during winter or spring break is great, or I would even pay a stay-home parent to keep my kids during those weeks. When I had just gone back to work full-time I did have one friend who was home with her three kids every day--my kids were great friends with hers--who did offer to keep my kids for a few days and I still remember that as one of the most thoughtful and helpful thing any friend/other mom ever did for me. Granted that same friend dropped me like a hot potato when I got divorced...but hey, at least she was nice once upon a time.

Not that this is only relevant to people with kids, but another idea that would help a lot is for companies to lump sick and vacation time together. At my company you get 2 weeks vacation but three weeks sick. Giving that same amount of time to be used at the employees' discretion seems like it would be beneficial for all. I know some companies already do this but unfortunately mine doesn't.

Posted by: maggielmcg | November 30, 2007 8:20 AM

FWIW, Maryland requires a minimum of 178 days of instruction for all public schools. (Private schools aren't subject to those rules, but that's another story.) Teacher professional days, snow days, and other full days off do not count toward those 178 days, but partial days (early dismissal or report-two-hours-late days) do count. Exceptions to this are made only in extreme circumstances, such as in the early '90s when repeated snow fall wiped out about two weeks of school and the schools were allowed to extend the school day by an hour each day to make up the time.

The calendar is set months in advance, so as far as what you do with your kids on those days off you know about, the answer is "planning". Howard County schools have before- and after-care that covers full days on days off; it's run by the Rec & Parks Department but held in school buildings. Also, the YMCA has all-day camps for school-aged children on scheduled days off, and other facilities do, too.

Unscheduled days off, such as snow days, are indeed another problem because you can't plan for them. But the engineer in me says that at the beginning of the school year, you get the calendar out, look at the days off, and start planning.

And congratulations, Fred - you made it through another year!

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 30, 2007 8:38 AM

This is a good thing for people to keep in mind if/when they are negotiating to go back to work.

I took a slight salary cut in exchange for starting at 3 weeks' vacation in my new job and I am betting I will use most of them on this kind of thing. Darn, should have held out for 4!

Posted by: shandra_lemarath | November 30, 2007 8:39 AM

Gosh, those poor kids. To be released from the discipline and focus and rigid schedule of a full semester of school for a couple of weeks. I mean, what could they possibly do with that time off--sleep in late, play, read, visit with friends?

Kids need a vacation from their "work", just like adults need a vacation. With immature brains and immature bodies, kids need more vacation, in my opinion, just like they need more sleep. Taking two weeks allows them to come back refreshed and better able to focus in a classroom setting. Especially with little kids, taking full-time classes can be exhausting. I don't think that it's disruptive--or if it is, it's disruptive in the best possible way.

I learned in my college weightlifting class that professional bodybuilders cycle their workouts, building the intensity of their training from a lull to a peak, and then taking a week or two off with no more than a token maintenance schedule. The cyclical effect of intensity and relaxation is what creates the best atmosphere to growth and development. Looking back on my grade school and college years, I think it created the best atmosphere for me, too.

Posted by: popslashgirl | November 30, 2007 8:42 AM

There is a program in our community that runs all the before/after school care at each of the elementary schools as well as full day care on days off and during the summer. They have a space in each of the schools as well as access to the gym and the outdoor play space. The costs are reasonable and it seems that most working parents do utilize this option. I find it hard to believe that more communities don't offer this service.

Posted by: michelewilson | November 30, 2007 8:46 AM

Co-op with other working parents. We are very fortunate to be good friends with our neighbors who have a boy 6 months older than our daughter. We trade off babysitting. It's terrific. (Though he's easier than our daughter, so I guess they get the short end of that stick!) I'd like to get more people involved. Our neighborhood has a listserv, so it's a good resource, but most of the the kids are elementary aged, and we have an infant. Where I work has a parenting listserv that occassionally flirts with the idea of setting up regional co-ops, but it never really gets off the ground.

Posted by: atb2 | November 30, 2007 8:52 AM

OT to altmom: Did you see WaPo.com has bread featured on the front page today? I made a yummy chewy Italian style bread, but need to work on the crust. I'm going to do a variation of the WaPo slow rise recipe this weekend. Since I don't have enought time to make beer anymore, I'm really getting my yeast fix in with this bread thing.

Posted by: atb2 | November 30, 2007 9:01 AM

In Maryland, private schools are required to schedule a minimum of 170 days of instruction. The Archdiocese of Baltimore now requires its schools to schedule 175 days (an increase of five days from all years before 2006, but, since we are not unionized, there was no corresponding increase in pay -- and we have to schedule 4 professional days in addition, instead of 3 days as we had in the past -- and we only get 4 planning periods a week, instead of 7).

I do hope you all realize those 'holidays' Leslie mentioned are generally not holidays for the teachers. We have seminars and meetings and other time-wasters on those days (I have yet to attend a professional day meeting that did NOT feel like a total waste of time). Trust me, we don't like the constant disruption to the school schedule either! This school year, we had a three-day AOB-wide professional meeting, an in-school follow-up to the meeting, and one of our required school-specific meeting days -- in October.

When your children are sleeping in on those announced days off, remind yourself that their teachers are listening to some 'expert' drone on and trying to stay awake, wishing they were either in the classroom with the students or maybe just home watching Oprah.

Posted by: educmom_615 | November 30, 2007 9:02 AM

I agree it is completely unfair for me to be "first." But occasionally I indulge myself. It helps to make up for Chitty and Bababooey's attacks.

Really good ideas here.

How do you go about organizing a parent or neighborhood co-op? Any ideas?

And Amy Nathan, nice to have you on board!

Posted by: leslie4 | November 30, 2007 9:03 AM

Our school has a set up similar to michelewilson's. The organization that runs the before and after school programs also runs programs when school is closed. It works really well.

As to the bigger issue of vacations, I completely agree that kids and teachers need breaks. But our winter break is over two weeks long - the 20th is the last day of school and the first day back is Jan. 7. When I was in school, the last day was Dec. 23rd and the first day back as Jan. 2 (or adjusted a little for weekends).

Posted by: dennis5 | November 30, 2007 9:05 AM

At my son's elementary school in Arlington, the extended day program (before and after school care) runs full-day sessions on the days when school is out for teacher conferences, training, and even during the holidays!!!! It is awesome. I can't understand why our school is apparently the only one in Arlington that does this. (It's Campbell elementary- and it's great in other ways, too. Arlington parents, send your kids here.)

Parents, lobby your school boards for this kind of program. It can be done.

Posted by: barfster | November 30, 2007 9:07 AM

leslie- It helps if you have an uber-politically active neighborhood with a member who started a listserv to keep everyone up to date on local goings-on that was eventually hijacked by people looking for babysitting coops or good plumbers and planning neighborhood BBQs (where local politicians are invited, of course). It all started with flyers, which now go out every couple years to collect email addresses and point everyone to the listserv.

Posted by: atb2 | November 30, 2007 9:17 AM

The solution: Military School.

Okay, I'm kidding.

...as far as you know.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | November 30, 2007 9:32 AM

listserve -- the key to making modern life manageable. thanks.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 30, 2007 9:33 AM

PP,

We real military men don't believe in military school (K-12 that is!)

Posted by: Fred | November 30, 2007 9:37 AM

OT to atb: just looked at the article - looks great. Glad to hear the new hobby is coming along! My DH used to make beer, too - we have all the fixings in our basement so one day he can do it again. Another thing that is super easy to make - if you like it and are so inclined - is yogurt (yes, yogurt!). Just google how to make yogurt and you'd find out how. I was amazed and proud when I made my own. Don't do it now cause the kids don't eat it as much anymore and I don't have the time.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 9:38 AM

From a Boston Globe article, Jan 19th 'Case For longer school days'
"..while American students spend an average of 1,460 hours in core academic classes during their high-school years, German and Japanese pupils spend more than double that time."

Of course American kids fall behind, even the best simply aren't getting as much education as children in other developed countries.

Posted by: albagirl | November 30, 2007 9:42 AM

re: Vacation: The kids have a bunch of days off, but it never seems excessive to me - well, for thanksgiving, they had off from Wed - Friday (we only had Thurs/Friday as a kid). The thing is - they were both itching to get back into their routines. The little one (who is in 4 hours a day, 3 days a week) was a nightmare by Sunday - and I think it's cause he was so out of his routine. He kept asking to go back to school (he LOVES it). The older one is looking forward to getting back to religious school on Sunday (he had two weeks off).

I guess it will be a long break for them with two weeks (or more for the younger one, I believe) off. We're planning on taking a short vacation somewhere or other near here so that should break up the time for them a bit.

Personally, with live in help, it's not as difficult for planning - but I am aware that most places that provide after care also will help you out when school is closed. I don't think it's so much of an issue where I am.

When my DS was in PreK - it was in a day care place - but it was Georgia PreK - so it was 'free.' Well, I guess we weren't checking things, or forgot, or whatever, so there was a day in there that the schools had off, but the school was open (since it was a 'regular' day care place) and I took my DS to school and whatever. I don't remember if the teachers were there or not - but anyway, I had no idea it was a 'day off' - and I got a bill a week or so later from the school telling me that I owed them whatever for that day. It was kinda funny.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 9:44 AM

I print out the school calendar soon after it becomes available online. So I had the 2007/2008 schedule back in March.

That helps, a LOT. I schedule all sorts of stuff on those days out of school--dentists, doctors, etc.

If no one needs anything, the kids can spend the day with my family. Or one can stay home alone, the other can spend the day at the after-school camp.

Fortunately my boss and I have it worked out that if schools are closed due to bad weather, I will call if I can't make it in. I use my annual leave if I can't get out of the driveway. If I can, then the kid(s) come with me.

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 30, 2007 9:52 AM

"Now, don't get me wrong. I love vacation days with my kids. School is not meant to be daycare."

Posted by Leslie Morgan Steiner '87 | November 30, 2007; 7:00 AM ET

That's right. School is a place of learning for the children, not a place of Day Care to make balance feasible for the parents.

"But for parents who work full-time, this "vacation creep" from our kids' schools plays havoc with work/life balance." (Leslie)

And to the extent that it's work/life balance that parents don't want havoc played with, what you want is, in fact, Day Care. But maybe there's a better way.

At certain times of the year, we see buses riding around Harford County marked, "Vacation Bible School." Now, why does vacation Bible School have to meet only during summer vacation? Why can't some enterprising outfit come up with a "Mini-Vacation Bible School" that would meet during Easter vacation, Thanksgiving vacation and Christmas vacation (that's what they called it when I was in public school; for Leslie's kids, it's "winter break")? The parents would be able to get their work done while their kids would be learning their Scripture instead of killing time in Day Care.

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | November 30, 2007 9:53 AM

I am surprised that affordable, fun, specialized, drop-in, day-camps are so difficult to find in suburban D.C. This is not an issue in the Triangle. An on-site employer camp wouldn't be a popular offering here because anyone who wants to can find an affordable ($25) one-day tae kwon do, ice hockey, visual art or other option.

For Fred and others saying, by law, schools are required to have a minimum of X days of instruction. In NC, I understand from education law specialists that, if the buses unload the children in the morning, it counts as a "day" for purposes of the minimum. As a result, if snow is forecast to start at 10 a.m., all the administrators want to get the kids in just long enough to put them right back on the buses and send them home. As always with the government, the devil's in the details and logic does not apply, LOL.

Posted by: mn.188 | November 30, 2007 9:53 AM

The vacation creep is one of the things I like about the year-round school schedule! There are fewer random days off here and there, and most days off are in part of the three week block that happens every nine weeks. Also, for Organic Kid, it helps for her to have a bit longer break then get back into the swing of things refreshed. When it's only a three day weekend for whatever reason, she has a tougher time transitioning back to school mode. Yes, it was tough at first figuring out "track out" care, but there are several places that have jumped into the void left by traditional day cares. As time goes on I become a bigger and bigger fan of year-round. Not to mention that I can take a week vacation to the beach, and rent a place at off-season rates in September, but the water is still warm and welcoming, days are warm enough for swimming, and the pace is so much slower because there's so many fewer people. Bliss!
I read above someone mentioned lumping in vacation and sick time as being beneficial. I have do respectfully disagree. I've worked for a company that did this, and have spoken to others in the same boat. In my case, they went from 10 days sick, 10 days vacation to 15 discretionary days. The rationale for cutting 5 days was "not everyone uses all the sick days." And people simply WOULD NOT take time off when they were sick, because they'd lose vacation days. People would be green around the gills, snuffling and snorting, moaning about stomach pain and nausea, and still be at work. When questioned about it, the response was always the same, "I don't want to lose my time off!!!".....Organic Gal

Posted by: OrganicGal1 | November 30, 2007 9:55 AM

oh, another thing: re: vacation days vs. sick days.

The reason many companies don't combine them is that for vacation days, they are liable for them - i.e, if you leave, they 'cash you out' for them. For sick days, they are usually - use or lose - i.e., you leave, they owe you nothing.

So combining them will increase liability for the company.

I did work for a company that had two 'buckets' for days ( you earned days as you worked there) - and so one bucket was treated as vacation - the other as sick - for purposes of when you left the company and how you got cashed out, but you could use it as you wished (i.e., the 'sick' bucket you could use when you took a vacation day).

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 9:59 AM

"instead of killing time in Day Care."

Not all day care centers are kid warehouses, some of them have lots more to offer. Including academic assistance, if needed.

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 30, 2007 10:00 AM

"Why can't some enterprising outfit come up with a "Mini-Vacation Bible School" that would meet during Easter vacation, Thanksgiving vacation and Christmas vacation (that's what they called it when I was in public school; for Leslie's kids, it's "winter break")?"

For some of us, we prefer the terms winter & spring break. Not everyone follows the Roman Catholic calendar for these holidays, or even Christianity.

Why not suggest that to your church? Presumably they already have the facility available, perhaps they have the staff too?

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 30, 2007 10:04 AM

MN,

What an interesting concept, offload them and put them right back on the busses. And it counts! Wow!

For my state, "School day" (I cite the actual law) means not less than five (5) and not more than eight (8) hours of actual teaching in which both teachers and pupils are in regular attendance for scheduled schoolwork."

And there are 180 days mandated.

Certainly I do recognize that school can be unexpectedly cancelled for snow days. (Even has happened here, once!) But at some point the days do have to be made up by extending the school year or having Saturday classes.

Posted by: Fred | November 30, 2007 10:04 AM

I went to school in NY - and they always had a few days built into the calendar for snow days. One year I remember vividly. We had had a few snow days in the beginning of the 'year' (i.e., dec/jan). They were never shy about closing school for snow days. Well, we had a late season snow fall one year, it was about 10-12 inches, I guess. My parents told me I didn't have to go to school (I think they thought it was going to be closed - but the kids clearly knew how many days were left in the calendar - and at that point, it was ZERO). So few kids and few teachers made it in, they started the day late, ended early, maybe some of the buses didn't make it in? I don't know - but I so remember them counting that as a 'day.' Was funny (to me at least).

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 10:08 AM

Hey, are anyone's posts getting eaten today?

make sure you SIGN IN before posting.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 30, 2007 10:35 AM

I acutally find the school closings for the slightest precipitation to be annoying. Luckily, my kids school doesn't close as easily as the public ones do, but I always wonder what working parents do with all the stupid "snow" days and 2 hour delays? THAT has got to make working parents crazy. With global warming, shouldn't we have fewer "snow" days than we did when we were kids, not more? What's up with that!

Posted by: moxiemom1 | November 30, 2007 10:37 AM

Organic Gal wrote: "And people simply WOULD NOT take time off when they were sick, because they'd lose vacation days. People would be green around the gills, snuffling and snorting, moaning about stomach pain and nausea, and still be at work. When questioned about it, the response was always the same, "I don't want to lose my time off!!!'"

Two other arguments against merging sick days with vacation days: people dragging themselves into work sick in order to save days off for vacation may be less productive at work, while simultaneously likelier to spread their illness to co-workers (thus rendering them less productive, too). If nothing else, it's poor public health policy to combine work and sick days in a single pool of days off.

Posted by: mehitabel | November 30, 2007 10:46 AM

Actually, where I went to (public) school, and where we had off for the high holidays in the fall, we did call it christmas break. Even though most of the kids and most of the teachers were jewish.

But really, they probably should call it winter break, as they do now.

Of course, christmas is a federal holiday, but we won't get into that here. It is actually one of my favorite days. We don't have the craziness that I see sometimes in others who celebrate the holiday (and our now tradition, in it's 7th year, is to go to my neighbor's annual christmas eve party - tons of fun). On Christmas we many times get together with family, as nothing's open, etc. EVEN some CHINESE places are closed (it's crazy!). Maybe we'll try to go out for chinese this year. :) Many times christmas is during chanuka so we get together for a chanuka party that day cause we can. :) This year chanuka starts on TUESDAY. I'm so not prepared (don't ask me what I need to do to BE prepared, I don't actually know, we got some presents for the kids, but we haven't as yet brought up the hanuka box from the basement - it just seems a little early this year, I guess next year it will be late ;).

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 10:50 AM

As a single mom with 10 paid vacation days per year this adds up to "Please don't let her scream at me!!" worries as I go to tell my boss I need to be off again. When we lived in an Urban district there was vacation care at school. Paying for it was next to impossible, but I managed. When we moved to a better district I forgot to check to see if this was an option!! Always ask first.

Posted by: lbh2 | November 30, 2007 10:53 AM

Leslie, I haven't figured out the exact timing, but WaPo.com seems to partially sign you out if you go a certain amount of time without posting. That is, I sign in to the site and get the familiar "Hello ArmyBrat" at the top of the screen, and at the bottom of the blog, I get the line "Your washingtonpost.com User ID, ArmyBrat, will be displayed with your comment."

After about 30 or 60 minutes (I haven't paid attention to exactly how long), when I refresh the screen to see new blog entries, that line goes away, and I see the "Click here to sign in" line.

If it's been 30 or 60 or however many minutes without posting anything and I type a comment without refreshing the screen, if I "Preview" it to check for typos, I'll see that the comment is by "Anonymous" and know it'll be eaten. I just copy all of my text and "click here" to sign in again. Note that I don't actually have to sign in; there's a cookie with all the info that reactivates me.

If instead of previewing the entry I just "Submit"-ted it, it would be eaten.

So, I strongly suspect there's some inactivity timeout that isn't well-disclosed or well-handled.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 30, 2007 10:54 AM

I'm not sure how many companies do this, but my employer accounts for vacation days and sick days differently. Vacation days for all employees are counted against a company-wide pool, while sick days are charged against each department. So taking a vacation day doesn't make your department look bad when productivity numbers are calculated, but taking a sick day can drag the department down. Guess what behavior that incentivizes in department management? :-)

It makes no sense at all to me, but then I'm an engineer not an HR or Corporate Management person, so I guess it's not supposed to.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 30, 2007 10:59 AM

ArmyBrat, thank you. I am going to pass your assessment onto the overworked tech team at washpost.com. Appreciate it --

Posted by: leslie4 | November 30, 2007 11:00 AM

To atlmom, who went to school in NY, and to Moxiemom, who wrote: "I acutally find the school closings for the slightest precipitation to be annoying."

So true!!! DH grew up on a farm outside a small town, where the school district almost always opened the schools no matter how snowy it was -- on the theory that teachers and students who lived in town would likely be able at least to walk the comparatively short distance to school. The administration figured that roughly the same proportion of teachers as students lived in town, so there'd be enough teachers to cover the students who could reach school.

OTOH, farm kids like DH who rode the school bus (because they lived too far to walk to school) simply missed that day of school if the buses weren't running due to snow -- but were expected upon their return to make up the schoolwork they'd missed. If farm roads were impassable, teachers living outside of town also missed school that day.

This system worked quite well, and reportedly was not widely abused -- since it was a small enough town that everyone else would have known if someone had tried to take advantage of the system!

Posted by: mehitabel | November 30, 2007 11:02 AM

Armybrat: if it all made sense to everyone, they would change the procedures. really, it shouldn't matter at all how many sick days a department takes - what should matter is the end result - are you getting your projects finished on time/on budget/etc.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 11:02 AM

Leslie,

I'm signed in, and my user ID shows, but still it eats posts. I lost one a moment ago and one yesterday. It's just too much effort for minor entertainment. ArmyBrat's explanation sounds spot on.

Posted by: mn.188 | November 30, 2007 11:02 AM

atlmom, Dec. 25 can be a great day to go skiing (for those in snow country), or for a hike and picnic in a local park (for those in milder climes) -- practically no crowds!

Posted by: mehitabel | November 30, 2007 11:05 AM

These tech problems really frustrate me too. I write something I think is absotively brilliant and then 30 minutes later go check to see if you all AGREE and my words never made it. Sometimes it feels like an invisible hand reaching out from cyberspace to annoy me...

Posted by: leslie4 | November 30, 2007 11:06 AM

MN and ArmyBrat's experiences and observations exactly mirror mine. I TRY to remember to follow my own advice to Control-A block, then Control-C copy the text of my post before clicking the Submit button, but to my consternation occasionally still forget, especially if distracted by real life (sigh).

Posted by: mehitabel | November 30, 2007 11:08 AM

mehitabel - no joke. I remember one year when I was living near the park (in the city) and just got up and started walking around (it wasn't too cold) and it was absolutely beautiful. The quietness was somewhat eerie, but nice. By the evening of christmas, the world starts waking up again.

I guess I never really noticed it growing up cause I was out of school and most of my friends did not celebrate christmas, so it was just another vacation day to us.

Oh, the other thing to do on christmas is to go to the movies. :)

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 11:09 AM

most of the time I refresh before I post, so if I've been signed out (as indicated in armybrat's post) it will tell me I need to 'click here' to post. So I do.

I haven't had a post eaten in a while, so maybe that's why. Or maybe I'm just lucky. Cause it has seemed random to me in the past.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 11:15 AM

atlmom, another good idea! Maybe the clicksters can compile a list of appropriate alternative family activities for holidays -- not necessarily just on Dec. 25, either.

Posted by: mehitabel | November 30, 2007 11:17 AM

One of the benefits of my job is LOTS of vacation time (I started with three weeks). We get all the federal holidays off. As a single mother, this is important to me. Also, on days where my daughter is home from school, my boss allows me the option to telecommute if I don't have any meetings scheduled. My daughter is old enough to keep busy, so it's an easy option. The flexibility was a key selling factor when I took this job.

I do help out the neighbor when her kids need to stay home and I am home as well.

Fortunately...we don't have to worry about snow days in Phoenix : )

Posted by: pepperjade | November 30, 2007 11:19 AM

With the first job returning to work after being a SAHM, one of the things I thought I would be inflexible on was vacation. But the job I took was extremely unflexible on that issue (2 wks vacation for first 5 yrs - if you were above manager, they might consider giving you 3 wks - maybe why they don't hire many outside folks). It wasn't horrible, as they also gave us 1 floating day and 6 'other' days (those were the ones that were supposed to be sick days but you could use them for whatever you needed them for). Well, the inflexibility was one reason that I left there before a year was up.

I negotiated three weeks where I currently am - and the best perk ever - they allow you to buy up to one extra week of vacation (and then if you don't use it all, they'll pay you back for it the end of the year). That allows me to be extremely flexible. I took off most days the kids had off this year, and a couple of days during holidays, and we also had a week's vacation. Since DH did not take off as much this year, he has tons of vacation time to burn (use it or lose it) - so he actually took this week off, and probably is taking a bunch of days in December.

Vacation time is horribly important to me. I can't believe companies give people only 2 weeks off. It's terrible, actually.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 11:26 AM

what a great idea -- buying more vacation time. just goes to show that solving some of these "flexibility" problems are so easy for employers if they just think a little.

pepperjade -- do you ever have "heat" days in phoenix?

Posted by: leslie4 | November 30, 2007 11:28 AM

I never thought 2 weeks was good - even when I was young and single.

Cause I have lived most of my adult life not where my family is, so I need days off to travel to see them - and that used to be most of my vacation days. So no actual 'vacation' which means not using the days for what they were intended for, just for stress...;)

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 11:38 AM

Fairfax counties School Aged Child Care (SACC) runs spring break and winter break mini camps. I think they are also open during teacher work days. My day care will take older (school aged children) for the random days off. I specifically networked early to find a day care that offered this service. I also wondered if any SAHMs would offer this service. I am sure if you were watching one to two kids (preferably play mates of your own kids) that a few extra cash dollars would be helpful. Especially when they are random days sprinkled in the year. Right now it is a none issue for us because we pay full time day care for 52 weeks a year. So we just send her to the day care. But I would probably always take winter break off and send her to spring break mini camp. Random days would probably be spent in SACC or at the day care. Also except for the maternity leave years, I earn enough leave for two weeks vacation and several odd days a year. I get 5 total weeks of vacation a year and 13 days of sick leave. Also their dad can chip in some time. I would hate to give up summer or winter break to cover school days. I think the key is networking. Or talk to the PTA if something could be set up in your school.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 30, 2007 11:43 AM

"do you ever have "heat" days in phoenix?"

The school did have us pick up our kids early in the school year when the air conditioner broke--temps were more than 100 degrees. Some of the school buses don't have air conditioning...I imagine those buses get pretty ripe in August, September and May, when we have triple-digit temps.

I feel bad for the kids because they are out of school in summer when the temps range 105 to 115 degrees. Kids can't play outside too long in that heat.

Posted by: pepperjade | November 30, 2007 11:43 AM

I don't really see "vacation creep" as a problem, partially because I just don't see it happening--there are a mandated number of instructional days in the school year (and this year our county is exceeding those mandated days by more than a week) and the days off don't seem excessive to me, plus the calendar is published well in advance so none of these days off come as a surprise. I also find it a lot easier to find alternate care for a child on a single day off of school than for the long blocks of vacation time in the summer. If anything, it seems to me that the school year is longer now than it was 30 years ago. And while more of the days off might happen as single days throughout the year instead of long breaks three times a year, I see this as a positive thing--shorter breaks mean better retention of what kids have learned and more mental breaks as well. Who doesn't love a work week shortened by a holiday?

Posted by: sarahfran | November 30, 2007 11:43 AM

I used to work for a company that allowed us to buy an extra week of vacation. It's essentially unpaid time off - the money just gets spread out over the whole year instead of coming out of one paycheck when you take the time.

Posted by: dennis5 | November 30, 2007 11:45 AM

yes, dennis5, but the time off has ALWAYS been more important to me than the money. Always.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 11:50 AM

dennis5, atlmom: when you say you were allowed to buy extra vacation, does that mean you were essentially allowed to take leave without pay? I think that's what Dennis is saying. Except in his case you lowered your salary by 1/52 and you still got 52 or 26 or 24 or 12 paychecks, rather than having one week with no paycheck.

You didn't actually have to forfeit pay for the week, and pay additional money for the privilege, did you?

The 'leave without pay' thing I understand fairly well. The Feds have such a thing for certain circumstances; a friend of mine from Fed days ran a construction business on the side. He would take leave without pay to go spend a week building a deck or or a garage, or putting on a new roof - the money he made was more than his Fed salary was, and it meant that he didn't lose his actual vacation days. As long as his boss signed off on it, life was good.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | November 30, 2007 11:50 AM

"School is not meant to be daycare"

but that's exactly what it is. Yeah, sure, they teach your kids a few things, most of which is irrevelent, but the state has a vested interest in maintaining thought control ober its citizens.

Always remember, the parent is the primary educator of their child, and if you aks me, the loads of homework the public schools are dumping on the kids is an encroachment to family life.

Posted by: DandyLion | November 30, 2007 11:54 AM

Armybrat, you have it correct - mostly. It didn't matter much this year, but I suppose it could at some point.

where the money I 'pay' from my paycheck is taken out and that dollar amount is calculated in December - when we do benefits. And then we get raises in March, and that payment for days doesn't increase.

Of course, it supposedly 'costs' me money - as they got to keep it all year, and I am taking all of the days back, getting paid back in a few weeks, without interest, but again, it's SO worth it to me to not worry about taking a day or two off here and there, have time for vacation, have time for seeing family, etc...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 11:55 AM

dandylion: I think the schools think that the homework is going to help somehow, rather than fixing the fundamental problems with the school - more homework is easy. I think it's absurd that my kindergartener *who can't read* has any homework at all. Yeah, it's only a few minutes, blahblah, but we didn't have homework til we could read and my parents NEVER had any idea what it was. It was my responsibility to do whatever I was supposed to do. None of this signing off or anything - that they encourage you to do til the kids are in junior high!!! When do the kids learn responsibility? That if they don't do something, they get in trouble/punished?

My coworker's wife home schools their two kids. The older one wanted to go to public school, so they let her go last year. Well, with the home schooling, the kids did whatever they did during the day, by 4 or 5 in the afternoon, they were done with everything. Well, my friend's daughter was in, I believe, 8th grade, and she apparently went to school all day then had about 3-4 hours of homework afterwards. She got straight A's in the public school - so the homeschooling clearly was working for her. She chose (with some helpful advice from mom and dad) to go back to the homeschooling route this year.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 12:00 PM

One reason I won't leave my job is because I get 5 weeks of vacation a year and lots of holidays off. It makes another job with limited vacation time very unappealing.

It wasn't a big deal when I was young and single, but now that I have kids it's critical.

Posted by: sandiego_mama | November 30, 2007 12:03 PM

DandyLion, I must heartily disagree.

For a lot of parents who were poorly educated (perhaps didn't even know English), the schools have been their childrens' potential ticket out of poverty and into the middle class, because the parents didn't have the skills to educate their kids to such a level. This has been true for over a century, and I'm sure we can all think of lots of folks who've benefited greatly from their formal educations -- some of whom we know personally, others who've risen to influential positions in our country.

Posted by: mehitabel | November 30, 2007 12:06 PM

"One reason I won't leave my job is because I get 5 weeks of vacation a year and lots of holidays off. It makes another job with limited vacation time very unappealing. "

Same here. My office is closed Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. No Leave Slips required! Fantastic!

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 30, 2007 12:08 PM

quick comment to "MattInAberdeen" re: Vacation Bible School...

many of those VBS instructors and/or staff are in fact teachers. So... if there is a school closing where the teachers are still required to be at school - who is supposed to run the VBS program? Additionally, many teachers do not work and worship in the same city or county, so who is to say the schedules would even match up?

Posted by: deena1946 | November 30, 2007 12:08 PM

Atlmom, I think the reason why you see a lot of families with more than 4 kids going the homeschooling route is that sending them all to public school is way too much work nowadays. Does that make any sense?

Posted by: DandyLion | November 30, 2007 12:09 PM

While I personally do NOT believe in homework for elementary schoolers -- please note disclaimer, rather than shooting the messenger! -- I believe the rationales behind it include that it reinforces classroom learning, and that students who start doing homework early in life develop better homework habits for the serious homework they will encounter later on (e.g., in JHS, HS), when it's more appropriate.

Posted by: mehitabel | November 30, 2007 12:12 PM

Not really sure what is meant by "vacation creep." Fairfax County requires 180 days in the classroom, and that has been exactly the same for at least 20 years.

I guess I don't understand why this turns into an urgent problem when vacation days are approaching. I mean, you know those days are coming. How hard is it to come up with a creative solution, like doing a coop with friends so that people take off on a rotating basis and do fun stuff with the kids for a day or two? Do people not really know 2 or 3 of their kid's classmates that they could arrange things with? Places like "My Gym" and local community centers usually have programs that run on school holidays as well.

Posted by: floof | November 30, 2007 12:18 PM

Leslie - If you factor in half-day and teacher work days the in-school total falls even more.

Once my children got into elementary school I looked for an after school program that covered those days. They are not impossible to find and while not cheap they were affordable.

One thing I would add since it's Open Season is that I got good savings by running those expenses through my employer's Dependent Care Flexible Spending account.

In our tax bracket (brag, brag, brag) that knocked 20-30% off the cost because the money is pre-tax.

It's more problematic when the get into that 12-14 age when they don't like going to after-care but are not quite old enough to be trusted at home. Not that kids older than 14 are trust able either!

Just wait until you kid goes to college. Fall semester runs Sep-mid-December/mid-January-May. Fall break, Thanksgiving, Spring Break - there is always something that requires cash. Given what you are paying for that it seems like they're hardly gone before they're back again raiding your fridge!

Posted by: RedBird27 | November 30, 2007 12:28 PM

actually - we're HORRIBLE when it comes to remembering days off. I mean, yeah, getting the calendar and putting it on your calendar aren't that hard, but then one needs to look at the calendar at least a week in advance. As I said, we have all sorts of help, so it's not horrible for us.

What has helped a little is that with the au pair, we're supposed to be giving her a calendar in advance, so we actually need to look and see when we need her to put it on her calendar. Helps a little :)

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 12:28 PM

Off-Topic to Leslie:

Leslie,

I was more than a little taken aback at your full-name and approximate age identification of a poster at 10:38 this morning. If you are personal friends and he approved this, no harm, no foul. OTOH, if he did not approve this, and in light of the amount of personal information we all disclose from time to time on this blog (including yesterday's post-Brian's topic discussion of grief and loss), I am surprised. Many of us only participate with the level of honesty that makes this blog occasionally useful because we rely on the protections of anonymity, both for ourselves and for our family members.

Is there a WaPO policy applicable to the public disclosure of identities of posters by WaPO authors and agents? What assurance do any of us have that our identities will not be publicly disclosed by you?

Posted by: mn.188 | November 30, 2007 12:31 PM

Every elementary school in Seattle has before and after care that expands to accomodate extra kids during breaks. Yes, we have to pay for it. Expanding programs like that makes more sense than trying to change the public school schedule for the convenience of two career famillies. Families like mine.

My husband the high school teacher works incredibly hard and needs the recharging of those days off, not to mention the training and education he gets during "professional days." If we want to tax ourselves enough so that we could add days to his schedule at a fair wage (and I would argue his current salary isn't exactly fair) maybe he would consider it. But he would tell you that the time off he gets is a good trade off for the low compensation he currently receives.

Yep, it's inconvenient at times. But since the schedule is basically the same as it was when I was a kid, it's something we all should be taking into account when we decide whether and how many kids we might want.

Posted by: rdaszkiewicz | November 30, 2007 12:36 PM

Dandylion, I'm confused by your post. You say parents should be the primary educators of their children and then are upset by the fact that the school is bothering your family with homework. How else are parents supposed to get involved with their children's education if not by getting involved them with their homework, (that is unless you plan to homeschool). I think that the idea is to get the parents engaged. This homework thing is you BIG CHANCE to show them how much fun you think learning can be, rather than putting all of your trust in the teacher to do this. You, with great creativity and imagination, can give them a fresh perspective on that lifeless worksheet by seeing something interesting in it that no one else has called to their attention. It's your chance to provide an enthusiastic role model here, to encourage a little curiosity. It's also a good opportunity to get them talking about their school day, and to give them some help processing their experiences. If you can figure out a way to make it playful then the homework thing doesn't have to be so bad. One of the best gifts a parent can give to their children is the ability to find some fun in life's mundane obligations.

BTW, I loved what you posted yesterday. Thanks for that one.

Posted by: pinkoleander | November 30, 2007 12:39 PM

One of the best gifts a parent can give to their children is the ability to find some fun in life's mundane obligations.

Posted by: pinkoleander | November 30, 2007 12:39 PM

pink, you are spot on with this one, and the rest of your comment, as well. Homework is the framework for a great conversation with your kids about what's going on at school.

Posted by: mn.188 | November 30, 2007 12:45 PM

Yeah, we do a lot of walking around the zoo, movies, etc. on Christmas day. Very nice, particularly early in the morning.

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 30, 2007 1:14 PM

pinkoleander, I have no objection to what you wrote above, but my problem with all the homework my kids get is that it is way too much, not to mention that much of it is busywork. Also, having several kids in school makes it very difficult to do family activities when we do get the chance because invariably 1 or more kids will get a major project that is due over the school break. This includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even summer vacation where they are required to do a book report, or depending what class they signed up for, possibly another major project. What the school system has essentially done to encourage reading is make a chore of it. I just think there's too much emphasis being placed on academic achievement and its beginning to hurt a lot of kids who aren't gifted in that area.

[End of rant]

Posted by: DandyLion | November 30, 2007 1:25 PM

I fully believe that kids should have vacations. For me, the problem is August. One huge problem. They are in camp June and July and they just don't want to do it in August. No family nearby. Even if I accummulate enough leave to take a whole month off, I am never going to get it off in principle. I don't know if any company or business IN THE US that can give an employee a whole month off not for medical reasons. So, I am already worrying today in November what my solution is going to be in August of 2008.

Posted by: tsm | November 30, 2007 1:49 PM

DandyLion

"having several kids in school makes it very difficult to do family activities when we do get the chance because invariably 1 or more kids will get a major project that is due over the school break."

Don't pop out babies you can't manage when they are school age.

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 30, 2007 1:50 PM

Chitty, at best you can make me groan, at worst, you make me laugh, but you'll never be able to piss me off because I like you too much. :-)

Posted by: DandyLion | November 30, 2007 2:00 PM

Actually, tsm, everywhere I've ever worked has some employees from India and at some point or another, many of them return to India for a vacation of some sort - for 3-6 weeks. Many of them work with their dept to define things, to work with them to figure out company policies (where many companies say you can't take more than 2 weeks in a row), etc. If a co. does that for one employee but not another (regardless of circumstances - it's vacation policy, not FMLA) - I would say that the employer is discriminatory.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 2:03 PM

MN -- You've got nothing to worry about! I strongly believe in the anonymity of this blog. As most people know, I opposed Registration (although I have become a believer now) and I still oppose requiring Guest Bloggers to use their full names. The specific case you refer to is one of those "bully on the playground" situations. Sometimes you've got to stand up for ourself. My punchback was just strong enough to say hey - cut it out. I am strongly for anonymity on this blog -- but I am just as strongly against bullying.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 30, 2007 2:19 PM

My best advice is to be organized. DD will be going to my work day care on December 26-28th. My firm is closed on December 24th and I am taking my last vacation day on December 31st.

I am taking her February break as a sick day and we are going to the dentist in the morning. I am already worried about March 2008 spring break but maybe she can go to her school day care. The work day care is only 20 days per year and I want ten for the summer.

Posted by: shdd | November 30, 2007 2:20 PM

Thanks, Leslie - that makes perfect sense. I appreciate your response. I agree with you re: bullies, as you know.

Posted by: mn.188 | November 30, 2007 2:20 PM

Personally, I have little sympathy with parents on this particular issue. This really is just part of the package deal of having kids and your responsibility to bear.

However, I do support year round schooling. The LONG break is no longer necessary, it doesn't fit with the general real world cycle anymore, and it's a huge latency that requires tons of "remember" time when the next year starts.

That being said, I also think the ratio of vacation time needs to stay the same, if not more. For me at least, "vacations" from middle school forward were at least half filled with bigger and more intense projects and take home tests.

The good thing about the adult world is that it really becomes your choice whether you do "homework" and that your time after work really can be YOUR TIME.

Posted by: EmeraldEAD | November 30, 2007 2:33 PM

"As most people know, I opposed Registration (although I have become a believer now)"

I MISS the good ole days before the deep freeze of Registration. This blog was a lot more diverse, interesting & fun. I still don't understand why you caved.

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 30, 2007 2:34 PM

Actually, I'm not sure what registration does - I created an account with yahoo that is anonymous, and this is anonymous. Are people who are annoying that lazy that they can't take 10 seconds to create another email account? I wouldn't have thought so.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 2:42 PM

"Actually, I'm not sure what registration does"

It thins out the herd.

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 30, 2007 2:52 PM

I agree, Chitty! I miss the good ole days. There are so many voices I miss. The silver lining of Registration is that we can remove someone who gets disgusting, vile and ridiculously offensive. But it's a bit like Singapore. Like how clean the sidewalks are but I miss the chewing gum.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 30, 2007 3:06 PM

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 02:03 PM

atlmom: I, too, had a coworker who took off to return to India for six weeks. It was a religious pilgrimage. He arranged this with management in advance of his hire. But yeah, I don't hink if I had asked for six weeks off as a condition of employment that this request would have been honored. With the threat of religious discrimination hanging over the employer's head, they agreed to the guy's terms.

Posted by: pepperjade | November 30, 2007 3:09 PM

"The silver lining of Registration is that we can remove someone who gets disgusting, vile and ridiculously offensive."

Your enforcement mechanism sucks! The banned poster can re-register under another name/handle.

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 30, 2007 3:13 PM

pepperjade: however, plenty of people take advantages of things like that *not* for religious purposes - just cause they want to see their family (or whatever). All I'm saying is that if the employer works with the employee for such a long haul for them, they should probably do it for others too- whether their family's in India or the US.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 3:16 PM

Re: SACC

Where I live in Fairfax County, if you don't sign up for SACC at our local school on the day that registraton opens, you won't get in - and even on the first day, you still might not. My friend's son was 178th on the waiting list at his school. SACC is a very reasonably priced, family friendly option, but you have to be able to get in.

My friend paid more for before and after school care for her 10 year old than you would for a toddler in full day daycare.

Posted by: robinwfcva | November 30, 2007 3:17 PM

THE WAY WE WERE ON THE OB

I miss the God Squad( but not the long Bible quotes) and the Food Police (but not the recipes).

The Spelling Police and the Grammar Police win kudos for their work on this blog. Fantastic results!

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 30, 2007 3:20 PM

So clearly there is a market opportunity in providing care for kids on non school days during the school year, huh?

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 3:23 PM

MN -- You've got nothing to worry about! I strongly believe in the anonymity of this blog. As most people know, I opposed Registration (although I have become a believer now) and I still oppose requiring Guest Bloggers to use their full names. The specific case you refer to is one of those "bully on the playground" situations. Sometimes you've got to stand up for ourself. My punchback was just strong enough to say hey - cut it out. I am strongly for anonymity on this blog -- but I am just as strongly against bullying.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 30, 2007 02:19 PM

----------------------------------------
From you action, you have shown that you value you feelings more than posters' anonymity.

You have no idea what the repurcussions of putting Matts real name and address out there. For all you know, he could get fired for posting during work. A stalker could hunt him and his family down, etc.

It was a big deal when someone posted Dandylions name, yet you did the same thing when someone disagreed with you. No matter what MN says, there really is no excuse for what you did, it was very unprofessional.

Posted by: daves000 | November 30, 2007 3:26 PM

"You have no idea what the repurcussions of putting Matts real name and address out there. For all you know, he could get fired for posting during work."

By now, all employees know they could get fired for posting at work, particularly Harvard grads working for the government.

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 30, 2007 3:34 PM

By now, all employees know they could get fired for posting at work, particularly Harvard grads working for the government.

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 30, 2007 03:34 PM
----------------------------------
And this makes what she did OK?

Posted by: daves000 | November 30, 2007 3:36 PM

"By now, all employees know they could get fired for posting at work, particularly Harvard grads working for the government."

Yale grads get a pass on this....as in most things in life.

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 30, 2007 3:42 PM

Yale grads get a pass on this....as in most things in life.

Posted by: chittybangbang | November 30, 2007 03:42 PM

wow, chitty, bitter much?

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 3:50 PM

so, I don't know this guy, but he spoke at something at my son's preschool yesterday. He was really great and made a ton of sense.

www.boblancer.com

Very inspiring.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | November 30, 2007 3:53 PM

By now, all employees know they could get fired for posting at work, particularly Harvard grads working for the government.

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 30, 2007 03:34 PM
----------------------------------
And this makes what she did OK?

Posted by: daves000 | November 30, 2007 03:36 PM

Did she break a law?

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 30, 2007 3:56 PM

DandyLion's name was never placed on this blog as far as I recall. Anyone recall differently.

Dave, My interpretation of Leslie's response was that there is a backstory between her and Mr. Rosenblatt which is entirely unrelated to his fairly innocuous comments on the blog earlier today that might, in Leslie's mind, justify her choice. I disagree with that judgment, in large part because of information that he has posted that relates to his wife and children. See yesterday's comments for a prime example. His wife and children, assuming they share a last name, have indirectly now been exposed to any lurker. However, if Leslie's choice was specific to Mr. Rosenblatt, e.g., the fallout is limited. If it's not, this blog needs an entirely new bold disclaimer above the comments box.

Posted by: mn.188 | November 30, 2007 4:07 PM

By now, all employees know they could get fired for posting at work, particularly Harvard grads working for the government.

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 30, 2007 03:34 PM
----------------------------------
And this makes what she did OK?

Posted by: daves000 | November 30, 2007 03:36 PM

Did she break a law?

Posted by: maryland_mother | November 30, 2007 03:56 PM
---------------------
No, but I think she violated the WaPO rule #1 governing commentaries and discussions. It would be against the rules for me to post your real name, so I believe it is worse when a WaPo employee does it.

And really, is that the standard you want to live by "anything not illegal is OK"?

Posted by: daves000 | November 30, 2007 4:08 PM

"No, but I think she violated the WaPO rule #1 governing commentaries and discussions. "

Which is . . . . what?

Posted by: mn.188 | November 30, 2007 4:10 PM

Dave, My interpretation of Leslie's response was that there is a backstory between her and Mr. Rosenblatt which is entirely unrelated to his fairly innocuous comments on the blog earlier today that might, in Leslie's mind, justify her choice. I disagree with that judgment, in large part because of information that he has posted that relates to his wife and children. See yesterday's comments for a prime example. His wife and children, assuming they share a last name, have indirectly now been exposed to any lurker. However, if Leslie's choice was specific to Mr. Rosenblatt, e.g., the fallout is limited. If it's not, this blog needs an entirely new bold disclaimer above the comments box.

Posted by: mn.188 | November 30, 2007 04:07 PM
---------------------------------
Your interpretation is far more forgiving than mine. ;)

As someone who was called a knukle-dragging neaderthal (sp?) by Leslie for disagreeing with her, I think you give her too much credit.

But, even if there is a history between them, as a professional, she should think before she posts. She has access to all of our registration info and could do this to anyone here at the drop of a hat.

If I was Matt, I would be emailing her boss right now to get that post deleted.

Posted by: daves000 | November 30, 2007 4:21 PM

Which is . . . . what?

Posted by: mn.188 | November 30, 2007 04:10 PM
---------------------
Among other things, respect other posters right to privacy. I just clicked on the full rules link above the posting box.

You know, the link that follows the sentence talking about blocking users who violate our privacy poilcies.

Posted by: daves000 | November 30, 2007 4:25 PM

Dave - I agree re: the chilling threat of exposure. I hope for his sake that Leslie's boss answers his e-mail more timely than does the person typically responsible for acting on this blog's e-mail.

Re: this comment: "She has access to all of our registration info and could do this to anyone here at the drop of a hat."

Almost everyone now participating has registered a fake name and fake e-mail address. The WaPO registration system does not require authenticity in either item. The problem is that Leslie DOES have full names and e-mail addresses of those who have cared enough to send e-mails reporting violations of the posting standards. This smaller subset of folks has much about which to be uneasy, in theory.


Posted by: mn.188 | November 30, 2007 4:39 PM

Almost everyone now participating has registered a fake name and fake e-mail address. The WaPO registration system does not require authenticity in either item. The problem is that Leslie DOES have full names and e-mail addresses of those who have cared enough to send e-mails reporting violations of the posting standards. This smaller subset of folks has much about which to be uneasy, in theory.

Posted by: mn.188 | November 30, 2007 04:39 PM
----------------------------
I know that, I am one of those that registered long ago, using my real name. Hmmm, maybe I should stop posting now. ;)

Leslie, you are doing a wondeful job!

Posted by: daves000 | November 30, 2007 4:47 PM

hey, i would NEVER reveal someone's name or other information i got from an email they sent me. that is not the case here. i've never gotten any info from this particular person via email -- all from public sources, same as the info the person got (and has shared) about moi. i agree it is a violation of confidence if you share a person's emailed utterances without their okay. back to what i said before: bullies on the playground.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 30, 2007 5:15 PM

"The good thing about the adult world is that it really becomes your choice whether you do "homework" and that your time after work really can be YOUR TIME."

Unless, of course, you become a teacher. Then, at least if you're good at it, you probably do WAY more homework than the kids.

And on the subject of pointless in-service/staff development/whatever-your-system-calls-them days: Last month I called in sick on a "workday" so that I could grade papers at home rather than sit through an all-day meeting on something pointless. (They had told us to bring crayons. As a high school teacher, I saw this as a really good hint that the day would be a waste of my time--as, according to everyone who went, it would have been.) The essays had to be graded so that report cards could go out, and if I didn't do them then, I'd have had to do them over the weekend. Think about that next time you're reflecting on how easy it is to be a teacher!

Posted by: highschoolteacher | November 30, 2007 5:26 PM

hey, i would NEVER reveal someone's name or other information i got from an email they sent me. that is not the case here. i've never gotten any info from this particular person via email -- all from public sources, same as the info the person got (and has shared) about moi. i agree it is a violation of confidence if you share a person's emailed utterances without their okay. back to what i said before: bullies on the playground.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 30, 2007 05:15 PM
------------------------
And by your action as author of this blog and employee of the WaPo, you just proved you are bully #1 on this board (you definitely have the biggest club here).

Come on, would you accept the "S/He did it first" excuse from your kids? What you did was dirty pool and you know it. You should delete the post and apologize.

If you were just another poster, it would be different (and your post probably would have been deleted). You are a public figure, you're expectation of privacy is considerably less than Matt's or anyone else that posts here ANONYMOUSLY.

Posted by: daves000 | November 30, 2007 5:51 PM

Happy to oblige, Dave. I'm sorry for creating a tempest in a teapot. Will remove the offensive post --

Have a good weekend.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 30, 2007 6:03 PM

Happy to oblige, Dave. I'm sorry for creating a tempest in a teapot. Will remove the offensive post --

Have a good weekend.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 30, 2007 06:03 PM
----------------------
Thank you.

BTW, I like that non-apology:'I'm not apologizing for my actions, just everyone's response to them'. I get the feeling you still don't think what you did was wrong. After all, you are in DC. ;)

You have a pleasant weekend, too.

Posted by: daves000 | November 30, 2007 6:14 PM

Leslie,

I do not consider it a tempest in a teapot. Altho you found the information from public sources, I do not feel that you as the blog author should have published it in the first place.

As Dave points out, people in the public eye have a diminished expectation of privacy. People who are not in the public eye should be accorded all reasonable privacy.

I know that you have to put up with a lot of carp, some of it very mean spirited, from some individuals on this blog. You know that I sympathize with you on this. But that gives you no license to act in kind.

Thank for for removing the post.

Fred

Posted by: fred | November 30, 2007 6:17 PM

Fred and Dave, my apology was sincere.

You may have misunderstood how I used "tempest in a teapot." With everything going on in the world today, I do think just about everything that happens on this blog and any other blog can be described as relatively unimportant. I was making lot of all of this, not you or the problem today in particular. I'm sorry if you found this offensive too!

I do hear your concerns. Nobody is perfect. What is important is to learn from one's actions. I do mean I'm sorry for my actions today and for having created an unnecessary problem.

Posted by: leslie4 | November 30, 2007 6:28 PM

Leslie, you've missed the point entirely. Even though the post in question has finally been removed, during the several hours it was online any number of people could have used the information you posted in order to locate the individual in question and find out a lot more about that person, with the potential to threaten that person and his/her family. That's no "tempest in a teapot," as you so contemptuously put it, but rather placing an entire family at possible risk of harm -- or at bare minimum, violating their reasonable expectation of privacy, since unlike you they are not public figures in even a limited sense -- for which you and WaPo could face potential legal liability should anything untoward happen to any of them as a result of your action.

If you and that particular chatter have serious issues, then take them up in private instead of dragging the rest of the On Balance posters into your feud. You behaved unprofessionally in your handling of this matter, first by doing as you wished, then by dismissing deserved criticisms as trivial, and issuing non-apology apologies of the "I'm sorry you misunderstood" genre.

Clean up your act, Leslie.

Posted by: mehitabel | November 30, 2007 8:39 PM

ArmyBrat, I now I'm way late with the response, but yes, that was how it worked. You essentially took a 1/52 paycut in return for having another week of vacation. You didn't pay extra for it. It showed up on your paystub as a separate deduction, so that's why it was referred to as "buying" it.

Posted by: dennis5 | November 30, 2007 11:17 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company