Many teachers in the US are forced to stockpile sick days and aim for summer births due to lack of paid parental leave.
The current situation: Less than one fifth of the nation’s largest school districts offer paid parental leave for teachers, with only a handful of states providing guarantees.
* Teachers often have to take limited unpaid leave, save up sick leave, attempt a summer birth, or pay for their own substitute teacher.
New laws: Oklahoma recently passed a law that pays for six weeks of maternity leave for teachers, joining states like South Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas that have also updated their policies.
Benefits of paid leave: Paid maternity leave has been linked to improved worker morale and retention, as well as better physical and mental health outcomes for mothers and children.
* Teachers of color can particularly benefit from paid leave, helping to address teacher shortages in diverse populations.
Addressing challenges: While providing paid parental leave may require funding and finding long-term substitutes, advocates suggest sharing costs between states and districts and changing the way substitute teachers are employed to provide better solutions.
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