Friday, April 30, 2010

Class Divide? More Teacher Absences in Poorer Districts

Speaking of giving up on kids, even worse than showing up and turning the school into a day care center with movies, is not showing up at all.  This WSJ article shares the not surprising – yet nevertheless horrifying – results of the WSJ's analysis of teacher absenteeism, which shows that 20% of NYC teachers missed more than two weeks of school last year – and 3.2% missed more than SIX weeks!  This is what happens when you give people lifetime tenure and iron-clad job protection…  And I'll give you one guess which districts had the worst absenteeism problem:

One-fifth of New York City teachers missed work for more than two weeks last school year, with absenteeism most acute in some of the poorest districts, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

In Brownsville, for instance, 24.4% of teachers were absent more than the 10 sick days they are allotted each year, according to city Department of Education data. In the South Bronx, it was 22.1%. By contrast, in the district containing the more affluent Upper East Side schools, 13.2% of teachers were absent more than two weeks.

The city spent $119 million on substitute teachers last year, and studies show that, particularly for poor children, teacher absences affect student progress.

"It's one of those underbelly topics that no one focuses on, but contributes to the achievement gap," said Raegen T. Miller, associate director for education research at Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. He pointed to research that has found that every 10 absences lowers math achievement by the same amount as having a teacher with one- to two-years experience instead of a teacher with three- to five-years experience

To his credit, however, UFT President Micheal Mulgrew issued the following statement:


"I read this report with concern and dismay.  If, in fact, there are teachers who are chronically absent without good reason, then this is unacceptable.  If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that every child deserves a capable, committed teacher who shows up every day.  I will look into this issue and work with the Department of Education to address any problems."


Before you fall out of your chair -- JUST KIDDING!!!  This is his actual pathetic quote:

Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, cautioned that the figures include days in which teachers are absent beyond their control, such as required professional-development days and jury duty.

Even so, though, he said the poorest areas are the most stressful places to work. "That's the toughest the job can be."

It would be hard to find better evidence for my belief that the teachers' unions have gone from being professional associations to being just like the longshoreman's union.  SHAME SHAME!


Could you imagine if there were a credible study that showed that doctors who staffed inner-city emergency rooms were chronically absent, leaving the ERs often understaffed, such that patients were dying?  Do you think the President of the American Medical Association would issue a statement making excuses for the absent doctors and lamenting how hard their job was?  Do you think most politicians representing these communities would remain silent – or would they be screaming bloody murder, pointing out (correctly) that this would NEVER be tolerated at hospitals serving the Upper East Side?!


  • April 28, 2010, 2:37 PM ET

Class Divide? More Teacher Absences in Poorer Districts

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