Metro Schools teacher said paid medical leave removes choice of family or students

Paid medical leave for all Metro Schools employees is one of the major proposals dealing with education investment that Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced.
Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 7:08 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Paid medical leave for all Metro Schools employees is one of the major proposals dealing with education investment that Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced during his State of Metro address on Wednesday.

Caroline Miller, a Metro Schools teacher, said paid medical leave would be a weight off the shoulders and some educators and the mayor’s move showed her that educators are valued.

“I think it’s amazing. I think it just shows so much respect that the mayor has for teachers and educators,” Miller, a teacher at Glencliff High, said. “We fuel everything. We are the ones who are helping the next generation. So, when we are compensated well, ti shows that there is value in the community.”

Miller is about to be a mother.

“I think me, alongside many other women, we know that we’re not going to be paid when we go on maternity leave, and so you’re just hoarding your sick days. I don’t want to take this day off because I’m going to need this eventually,” Miller said.

A proposal for paid medical leave for Metro Schools employees hits different for this soon to be mom.

“I think when you have a new baby, there’s a huge financial burden, especially living in Nashville where there’s already financial burdens of increased housing costs, inflation on gas, food, clothing and everything,” Miller said. “Not having that financial burden when you’re taking your six-week leave is everything because you can focus on your baby, you can focus on your body recuperating. You can focus on everything you really need to come back refreshed and ready to teach.”

Cooper told News4 on Wednesday the city in the past couldn’t really afford paid medical leave for Metro Schools employees.

Miller said not having paid medical leave in the past left teachers with a hard choice to make.

“I feel like I’m lucky because I’m giving birth in the summer, so I’m able to finish out the school year,” Miller said. “I think for many educators if they’re giving birth in the middle of the school year, you have to make that decision. Like, Wow. I’m teaching these standards and if I’m not in the classroom, the kids are going to miss that learning. We care. We’re teachers, and you know you feel guilty. There’s definitely that pull between family and students. That’s so hard.”

While Miller is grateful, she said she’d like to see one more consideration.

“Currently under the current maternity-paternity leave, let’s say the mother and father of the baby are both educators, that leave is split between them, so they don’t both get that time,” Miller said. “I think it will be great if this was extended for six weeks maternity leave and six weeks paternity leave so that way the family can be ready for this adjustment.”

News4 asked Cooper’s office how long the paid medical leave would last and if it would be at full pay or partial pay.

The Mayor’s Office replied it would be 100% paid medical leave for six weeks. Then the employee could use PTO afterward, the same as all other Metro employees.

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