A clearly biased study published last month by the Charter friendly Thomas Fordham Institute found that public school teachers took off an average of 8 sick and or personal days each school year, compared to the average worker taking off 3.5 days a year. The report failed to point out that stress in the classroom is a major factor in teacher absenteeism and teachers are usually surrounded by sick students/ In addition, many a classroom teacher needs an occasional mental health day after dealing with up to 150 student personalities daily.
The report, while ignoring stress as a cause, blamed the high teacher absenteeism on their union's collective bargaining contract that gives the teacher an average of thirteen sick and personal days that a public school teacher gets every school year.
The author of the report, David Griffin, wrote a summary in the flypaper and called it the "Public Schools Billion-Hour Teacher Absenteeism Problem"and came up with a list of proposals to correct the teacher absenteeism issue. They are as follows:
- Reduce the amount of paid sick and personal days to between 8 and 10 from the average of thirteen days,
- Eliminate "carrying over" sick and personal days. In other words, use it or lose it at the end of the school year.
- Have a qualified substitute teacher available.
- Include chronic teacher absenteeism as a factor in the school's quality review report.
- Eliminate union restrictions on all charter schools
Interestingly, the report shows that 28.3% of all public school teachers took eleven or more sick and personal days in a school year and were listed as "chronic absenteeism". Moreover, the Fordham report showed that charter school teachers were less likely to be "chronically absent". Maybe that's because many of these charter school teachers are quite young., and quit or were fired during the school year. Finally, the report states that chronic student and teacher absenteeism are correlated and he believes that teacher absenteeism should be included in evaluating schools.
Besides ignoring the stress factor, the report did not address the high teacher turnover in charter schools or the fact that many charter school teachers are not certified in the subject they are teaching in. The bottom line, the report fails to account for stress and ignores the high teacher turnover and lack of certification issues associated with charter schools.and that makes me question the validity of the Fordham report.