Have your cake...and pay for it, too!

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Sure, take a long weekend. If you want, take an extra-long weekend.

That'll be 100 bucks.

That's right. Teachers in North Carolina public schools are charged a fee for taking the two personal days allotted by the state each school year. Teachers must pay $50 per day--deducted from their salary--to help defray the cost of substitutes, whose daily rates range from $65-$132 a day.

Perhaps designed as a deterrent to curb excessive absenteeism--the absentee rate of teachers is triple that of other professions--it is hard to say how much of a deterrent the Tar Heel policy is. In 2006, North Carolina spent over $6 million on substitutes. Through teachers' $50 salary deduction--or contribution, depending how you spin it--$3.8 million of that cost was covered. The salary deduction works more like a vice tax, helping the state to collect revenue on behavior with which it would rather not contend.

The usual suspects express concern that the policy could in turn have the unintended consequence of encouraging teachers to claim sick leave for personal errands rather than accepting the loss in pay. Some districts, such as Brevard County in Florida, have decided to tackle this problem from another angle. According to the Brevard CBA, the district rewards teachers for having less than four absences a year--that can mean an additional $2,400 for simply showing up to work.