Parents Need To Care About Teachers’ Paid Family Leave

Did you know that parents need to champion teachers’ paid family leave? It’s true! Because happy educators equal teachers more inclined to stay in school districts. Read why here.

by Ivy Locke

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No matter where you live in the country, paid parental leave has been a hot-button topic for years. This is especially true for teachers and those who work in the education sector.

In recent years, we, as a society, have become painfully aware of how important spending time with family truly is. This is partially because many educators spent weeks, months, or years working remotely during the quarantine. This allowed them much more flexibility in spending time with loved ones, especially their kids. 

Nevertheless, when the world opened back up, most had to return to their tedious schedules, which meant spending much more time with every child but their own. This caused many, especially new moms, to reflect on how much work interferes with family time, especially when there’s a new baby in the home. These days, there is more of a push than ever to give educators more paid family leave, but will they actually get it?

Benefits of Paid Family Leave

Since the pandemic, the average person is far more health conscious than ever. Paid family leave not only allows people to spend more time with their loved ones, but it also provides them with the following benefits:

  • Healthier parents and babies
  • Reduced instances of domestic violence
  • Decreased instances of infant mortality
  • A reduction in low birth weight and preterm births
  • A reduction in post-partum depression and general depression symptoms
  • A decrease in child re-hospitalization
  • Lower cases of stress and anxiety
  • And more…

Either way, based on a study conducted by the National Council on Teacher Quality, of the 100 largest school districts in the country, only around 18% provide teachers with paid or partial family leave. This is because there is presently no federal law mandating paid family leave, and thus, these matters are left up to the decision-makers in each district. This brings us to the matter at hand. 

Obstacles to Paid Family Leave for Teachers

Some lawmakers have opted to use it as a bargaining chip rather than simply offering educators paid family leave because it’s the right thing to do. For instance, union organizer Brandon Johnson recently delivered signatures that effectively doubled paid family leave for public school teachers to 12 weeks. 

However, rather than leaving the policy as is, former Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago used this as an opportunity to force negotiations regarding other issues affecting the school district. This is yet another move that has caused her credibility to be called into question. Given that she had already agreed to the provisions, it would seem that she realized it was such a sought-after benefit that she didn’t want to waste the opportunity to railroad Chicago educators into taking some sort of loss in exchange. 

Sign of the Times

Since paid family leave is not federally mandated, the situation with former Mayor Lightfoot could become commonplace. Although paid family leave should be a fundamental human right, we do not have such policies to make it so. Therefore, it may be dangled like a carrot over those who selflessly give their time, energy, and money to educate the children of this nation.

Personally, I think this is a matter for the Supreme Court, as leaving it up to lower-level lawmakers is unfair to the educator collective. Either way, as parents, this is an issue we should all be standing together on. Expecting educators to continue to sacrifice their special family time to educate other’s children is incredibly inhumane. No one should be forced to return to work too soon after having a baby. Allowing educators to get paid family leave is for the good of all children in this country. Wouldn’t you say so?

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