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Gradebook podcast: Teachers are being ‘voluntold’ to do extra? Are schools taking advantage of them?

The Hillsborough County Classroom Teachers Association says ‘yes.’
Teachers and Hillsborough County School District officials at contract negotiations on May 23, 2018. For the union: Cherie Miller, Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, Jean Clements, Lindsesy Blankenbaker. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]
Published Aug. 22

Teachers have contracts with their school districts for a reason. The agreements detail what their employers can expect of them, and what they're required to do. But what about when a principal 'suggests' that something more needs to get done, and requests volunteers?

There's no mandate to do the work, but the pressure certainly exists, along with the message, ignore at your own risk. At least, that's what Hillsborough County Classroom Teachers Association leaders are contending as they negotiate this year's employment deal with the nation's eighth largest public school system.

Reporter Marlene Sokol discusses the union’s concerns with organizer Lindsey Blankenbaker, who worked as a high school social studies teacher before joining the HCCTA staff.

“Go out and watch teachers leaving at the end of the day,” Blankenbaker says. “I’ll challenge you to find someone who’s not walking out with a tote bag or a rolling cart full of papers to grade, or materials to work on.”

RELATED: It’s the beginning of the end of Hillsborough teacher “pay bands.”


  1. Sandra Gero, a regional search associate at Ray and Associates, hosts a meeting at the Middleton High School auditorium and gathers public comments on what people are looking for for the next Hillsborough County School Superintendent on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019 in Tampa. LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Using public meetings and a survey, they’re painting a picture of the ideal school leader.
  2. Jeff Eakins and MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough's last two superintendents, were hired from inside the school system. So have all others since 1967. Times staff
    Go to the school district website before 8 a.m. Monday to state your case.
  3. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, urges the Florida Board of Education to hold schools accountable for teaching the Holocaust and African-American history, as required by lawmakers in 1994. The board was considering a rule on the matter at its Sept. 20, 2019, meeting in Jacksonville. The Florida Channel
    School districts will have to report how they are providing the instruction required in Florida law.
  4. The Pasco County school district would rezone the Seven Oaks subdivision from the Wiregrass Ranch High feeder pattern to the Cypress Creek High feeder pattern, beginning in the 2020-21 school year. Pasco County school district
    The Seven Oaks subdivision is the primary target for rezoning.
  5. Fortify Florida is a new app that allows for anonymous reporting of suspected school threats. Florida Department of Education
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  7. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.
  8. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    School security and early learning get top billing in the first committee meetings of the looming 2020 session.
  9. This image from a Pinellas County Schools video shows an armed police officer running to respond to a fictional active shooter.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    The proposal is short on details, with officials saying they want to work through specifics during negotiations.