Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Do big-district teachers play hooky?


A report last month in USA Today says that teachers in big-city school districts play hooky more frequently than those in other types of districts.

Baltimore made the list, with 41.8 percent of its teachers absent for 10 or more school days, a situation the report calls “chronically absent.” Chicago didn’t have sufficient data to determine the number of teachers chronically absent from work, while public schools in Columbus, Ohio, turned in the highest percentage of teachers chronically absent, with more than two-thirds of their teachers missing more than 10 days of work.

The report, released in early June by the National Center for Teacher Quality, blasts school districts for missing an obvious problem. The “center,” however, is known for bias and the absence of good survey methods in data collection, as we reported after this year’s release of rankings of teacher preparation programs at US colleges and universities, here.

“While these big-city school districts are struggling to improve student achievement, they may be overlooking one of the most basic aspects of teacher effectiveness: every teacher being regularly on the job, teaching kids,” the paper quoted Kate Walsh, president of the Washington think tank that advocates for reform in recruiting, retaining, and compensating teachers. Part of its funding comes from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation.

“No matter how engaging or talented they are, teachers can only have an impact if they are in the classroom,” NCTQ’s managing director for district policy and co-author of the report was quoted as saying.

For the record, some of the greatest impacts the greatest teachers ever had on me were not in a classroom. “Learning outside the classroom builds children’s confidence and can transform their relationships with teachers,” says the Guardian.

In addition to the figures cited above, the report showed chronic absenteeism among teachers, meaning the proportion of teachers in the district who missed more than 10 days of work in a school year, of 68.5% for New Orleans; 67.4% for Nashville; 67.1% for Jacksonville; 67% for Cleveland; 63.2% for San Antonio; 61.9% for Portland, Ore.; 59.4% for Buffalo, N.Y.; 51.1 for Sacramento; 49.5% for San Diego; 49.3% for Orlando; 48.4% for Providence; 47.8% for Charlotte, N.C.; 46.7% for Newark; 45.3% for Pittsburgh; 45.2% for San Jose; 45% for Oklahoma City; 44.3% for Dallas; 43.2% for Austin; 41.9% for San Francisco; 41.6% for Phoenix; 41.3% for Seattle; 40.3% for Denver; and 40.2% for Cincinnati.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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