AFT Resolution


(The first draft of this statement was prepared by the AFT Commission on Educational Reconstruction. This draft was carefully studied by the AFT members who attended the AFT Summer Workshop at Madison, Wisconsin, and in the light of their suggestions revisions were made.  The revised statement, as presented here, was then referred to the convention committee on educational trends and policies, which recommended its adoption by the convention. By unanimous vote the convention delegates enthusiastically approved the committee's recommendation.)


The problem of extra-curricular activities is one that has concerned teachers for year. In no their occupation is a worker employed to perform exacting and highly technical duties of one sort and later forced to render, on his own time, services often unrelated to the job he is supposed to do.

A teacher's day has never been limited to the hours he spends in the classroom.  As part of his work he has accepted the fact that he will have to devote time outside of school hours to preparation for his teaching and to other duties directly connected with his teaching. Traditionally, teachers have also given generously of their time to help adjust individual pupil problems. In addition, teachers have voluntarily conducted extra-curricular activities of a leisure time nature-sponsoring student clubs, chaperoning student school functions, accompanying students on tours, and performing various duties at school affairs after school hours. These activities have been, for the most part, outside of the teacher's classroom work.

There has been an increasing tendency to break down the distinction between these recreational activities and other school activities of a quasi-commercial nature. The dramatic club in many schools has developed into a semi-professional enterprise, with after school tryout, rehearsals, scenery construction, and charges for admission. The debating club has branched out and the English or speech teacher is responsible for conducting a series of debates within the community and often in different parts of the state and beyond. Athletic teams are expected to lead the league, or at least become commercially profitable. Music, too, in many small cities and towns has become semi-professionalized; the high school band is indispensable at a variety of community functions. Perhaps an extreme example of school activity of a dubious educational value is the entertainment project, such as a carnival or bazaar, in which the services of the whole student body and the entire faculty are engaged for the sole purpose of raising money for the school.

Many extra-curricular activities, if they are not commercialized have a wholesome effect on the student. Teachers, by and large, do not complain of the activities as such so long as the curricular teaching program is not weakened. They do feel, however, that if the activities cannot be incorporated into the curricular schedule, and allowance made for the time spent outside of school hours by a shortened teaching program-at no sacrifice to students or other teachers-then teachers should be compensated for the extra time and work.

In some school districts this principle is recognized. Nevertheless, many a teacher has been engaged to teach science, or English, or mathematics, or health education, when actually the job has entailed coaching sports or dramatics or the supervision of clubs of one sort or another. This is a definite form of exploitation--making employment dependent upon the rendering of countless hours of unpaid service.

The extra-curricular problem has been heightened during the past year by the stoppage of extra-curricular activities in the New York schools. The teachers refused to donate their services, but the New York City Board of Education, acting on the basis of a ruling by an acting New York State Commissioner of Education, decided that teachers could be forced to assume duties which had previously been entirely voluntary.

The President of the Board of Education sought to end the stoppage by enticing the coaches to conduct after- school activities through almost doubling the additional salaries paid.

In most of the schools in New York City, as is the case in other sections, only one or two sports are self-supporting. The four or five other sports are dependent on school funds for the purchase of equipment. The money for this equipment is raised by the presentation of dramatic performances calling for long hours of after school coaching of the most trying kind. The coach of the plays is not paid, but the coaches of the teams for which he raises the money are given additional compensation.

Either extra-curricular activities are justifiable educationally or they should be discontinued. If they have a real educational purpose, the teachers conducting them should be adequately compensated. Just as the carpenter or the plumber is compensated for all additional time spent on his job-and not at the expense of his fellow workers, either-so every teacher should be compensated fairly for his additional labor. Until he is, coaches of the more spectacular extra-curricular activities will be compensated, if at all, at the expense of coaches of activities just as important, if not more so, to the educational program.

Teaching is a full-time job, even without extra burdens, and teachers, if they are to do a satisfactory job, must be adequately paid and have opportunity for study, community activity, and recreation. Extra-curricular activities entered into on a voluntary basis by pupils and teachers in such communities may lead to mutual stimulation and enrichment.

The American Federation of Teachers believes the following basic considerations should govern schools in the development of extra-curricular activities.

  • An acceptable situation is one in which the extra-curricular activities are voluntary on the part of both students and teachers. This is the situation which prevailed up until recent years and still prevails in some school districts. We believe the best development of the child and the highest morale of the faculty are achieved under these conditions.
  • Where extra-curricular activities are definitely assigned as part of the teachers' program, suitable allowance should be made for the extra time involved through satisfactory adjustment of the classroom schedule.
  • Where it is impossible to make adjustments in the schedule for extra-curricular activities without sacrifice of the formal educational program, adequate overtime compensation should be paid.
  • Extra-curricular assignments should not be so costly in time and energy as to prevent teachers from carrying on their curricular teaching duties in a satisfactory manner.
  • Neither the choice of extra-curricular activities nor the compensation paid teachers should depend upon the revenue which the activity produces.