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Teachers join protest with ‘flash grade-in’

By Alexander C. Kaufman
Globe Correspondent / October 17, 2011

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Grade books, laptops, and stacks of exams in hand, about two dozen Boston public school teachers - fed up with the critics who say that educators work enviably few hours - graded papers in South Station yesterday before marching to the Occupy Boston encampment in Dewey Square.

Wearing red T-shirts that separated them from travelers passing through South Station, the teachers were scattered around as they did schoolwork. The group then marched to Dewey Square where nine planted themselves in front of the tent village, hoping to demonstrate the time-consuming tasks that follow teachers home from work.

Flash grade-ins - demonstrations where groups of teachers gather to work in public - recently occurred at Occupy protests in New York and Los Angeles. Inspired by those demonstrations, the Boston chapter of the Teacher Activist Group, a nationwide network of education advocates, mustered members to march.

“People think I have an easy deal because I get summers off,’’ said Mira Brown, 51, a physics teacher at a Boston public high school she declined to identify. “But I work 78 hours a week.’’

She said grading is normally a solitary Sunday-morning chore.

“I’m not getting as much done,’’ she said, laughing.

Seated on the sidewalk beside her, Joy Kogut, a math teacher at the same school as Brown, said she hopes people will recognize the long hours spent working on days off.

“Inside the train station, a lot of people said very positive things, though I generally get criticism from people who say, ‘Well, you get out of work at 5:30,’ ’’ said Kogut, looking up from her laptop. “I hope maybe some people will think again before making derogatory comments about people’s work.’’