Del. Ken Plum: Taking the Summer Off

by Del. Ken Plum June 14, 2018 at 10:15 am 8 Comments

Del. Ken Plum/File photoThis is an opinion column by Del. Ken Plum (D), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

As a teacher for a few years I was often chided by friends as having a “cushy” job getting all summer off from work. Other teachers get the same reaction from those who know little about the profession and certainly have no experience being in the classroom. In many jobs if you are having an off day, not feeling well, or just need a break it is possible to let some of the requirements of work slide until the next day.

Not so with teaching: every day in the classroom you have to be on–ready to face eager students and the challenges and opportunities they present. I continue to be impressed by teachers who can be enthusiastic and understanding early in the morning through afternoon five days a week from fall through spring. That’s why that summer break is so important.

And furthermore, you need the summer to take that additional course or workshop for updating your credentials, work that second or third job to balance the family budget, or recharge your mental and emotional batteries. For anyone with a different opinion about the challenges teachers face, visit some classrooms or better still teach for a while or substitute. You will soon learn why teachers are among the people I most admire.

My current “job” of being a legislator may get the same reaction from some who are not aware that the regular session of a couple of months of time spent in the State Capitol is just part of the job. Members of the General Assembly are considered citizen legislators with other responsibilities and are paid as part-time workers. Actually, the position can take as much time as a legislator can devote to it and the voters are willing to tolerate. Having retired from my full-time job in 1996 I happily devote full time to my legislative duties. Every two years I have to reapply to voters to keep my job, and with a two-year term some time every other year is devoted to campaigning.

During every year there are study committees and commissions that meet when the legislature is not in session. This week I participated in a meeting of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) of which I am a member. We provide oversight to the operation of state government including financial and management audit, reviews of the performance of state agencies and conducting studies on topics as requested by the legislature. I also serve on the Joint Commission on Technology and Science (JCOTS) that has meetings in the interim to consider future legislation and emerging science and technology issues. There are many other groups that work between legislative sessions.

Having a break for the summer from going to work as a teacher, legislator or other worker does not mean you are not working. We all need some mini-vacation times of long weekends or a real vacation to recharge our mental batteries. We can do a better job as a result.

File photo

  • 30yearsinreston

    Ken has been on vacation since he ‘retired’
    He has been feeding at the public trough all his life
    Its a hard task, but someone has to do it

    With all his whining on how difficult the job is he will be asking for a pay raise soon

  • Mike M

    Tune in this week to see how Ken sucks up to yet another one of his core government-employed constituencies rather than let us know how he is representing our interests in his job. But then, what would he have to report?

  • RestonSouth

    I am not a fan of this argument. Most people who have jobs work really hard and don’t get time like this. This includes many jobs which have certifications which have to be done on employees own time. During the summer are these educators and legislators beholden to some timeclock or something to keep track of time? I doubt it. Its time to use as they wish to get done what they need/want to get done. I am sure most people wish their jobs had that

    • Willie Reston

      Take it up with your employer and/or form a union and try to get your employer to accede to your wishes. Or, **gasp** become a teacher.

      • The Constitutionalist

        Or…. grasp this for a second….

        Stop acting like Tom Cruise (who thinks acting is harder than being an infantryman [fine, or a woman] in Afghanistan) and realize that teacher’s have it pretty damn easy.

  • KennyP

    Sounds like he’s getting ready to charge up the Prius and head out on another historical VA road trip, so he can hurry back and report to us how racist our founding fathers were.

    • Mike M

      Thank you for this! Put beer in my nose!

  • 30yearsinreston

    He should give us all a vacation from his incessant whining and preaching


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