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Duval's teacher absenteeism problem.

Teachers missing ten or more days are considered chronically absentee. Full disclosure this is my sixteenth year and I was probably chronically absent at least ten times. Once because of an illness and another time because of an injury but when I was younger I wouldn't carry any days over. I figured if they gave me ten I was going to miss ten.

Enough about me.

Nationally about 27 percent of teachers are chronically absent. In the state of Florida that jumps to 39 percent and I was told that in Duval that  number climbs all the way to 51 percent. Over half our of our teachers are considered chronically absent. Here is the thing, when I was told that I replied, it's that low? Thinking the number would be much higher.

Now I don't think for a second that this is a symptom of a staff that doesn't care. I think it is a symptom about how the district is run.

When a teacher feels hopeless, or over worked or marginalized or disrespected or overwhelmed or insert a dozen other feelings that teachers in Duval routinely go through then they are going to miss days and I don't blame them one bit. They have to sacrifice a day to be able to work ten or fifteen others.

I think it's also a symptom that Duval has embraced the transient nature of teaching in today's age. If you only plan to teach for a year or two, then missing a day becomes that much easier, especially since the district doesn't pay out full price when you sell them back.

I was told as much by the superintendent a while back. In so many words he said people don't want to teach for a career, they want to do it for a few years and them move along. The causal acceptance of this I believe plays a roll in chronic absenteeism. teachers think, hey is I am just going to do it for a year or two, I might as well use all my days and apparently in some cases and then some.

Then newer teachers have it rough, imagine doing the alternative certification and trying to teach. I can't. When I did it, it was basically ten two or three paragraph reports that you were capable of doing in a couple afternoons. Now it is a full workload, it's like a full time semester in college. I get it we want teachers to be prepared but we should want them to return for year two as well.

We should require new teachers to have a few days out of the classroom where they just come to work and observe veteran teachers or give them time to work on lesson plans so they don't get burned out but instead as often as not they get the hardest classes with the hardest kids. It's almost like we want them to fail.

Then there is teach for America. Instead of spending millions on recruiting veteran teachers or people who might spend more than just a year or two in the classroom. We spend millions to recruit these college kids, non education majors who with the barest of training say, I'll give that a try. How many of them are selling hours back at sixty percent after their two years are up? My bet is not many.

When we overwork our young teachers and don't respect experience that's a recipe for a 51 percent chronic absenteeism sandwich.

We have a problem with teacher absenteeism which is bad for our kids but it's the system of overworking and marginalizing teachers as well as devaluing experience that is to blame and that didn't originate in the classroom, that came from downtown.

7 comments:

  1. It's gone from 60% to 50% payout for unused sick leave.

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  2. The devil's in the details and I need some. What type of leave is considered for summing up 'chronic absentee'? Any type of leave? So if the District forces me from my classroom for training (it happened one day this year), that counts? I didn't want to go. If I get called for jury duty--there is no choice, report or the marshals come looking for you--that counts? I understand that some teachers who think the sick/personal leave means take the full amount making up whatever excuse is necessary and don't consider that their students aren't learning when they are not there is problematical. But there are many reasons teachers have to miss work and to call them chronically absent in a perjorative manner isn't the way to find a solution.

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  3. More than 1 in 4 of the nation’s full-time teachers are considered chronically absent, according to federal data. The National Bureau of Economic Research has found that when teachers are absent for at least 10 days, there is a significant decrease in student outcomes. School district administrators across the country do not know what exactly is causing excessive teacher absenteeism. Some point to teachers taking sick leave, maternity leave and personal days to which they are entitled, and others attribute part of the problem to school climate. When teachers don’t feel motivated to go to school and teach, some of them just don’t show up.

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  4. This appears to be an average number of days and not reported by teacher. So, if 2 teachers in a school of 60 teachers take 12 weeks maternity leave and 1 teacher in that school has surgery and is out for 6 weeks then that averages to 3 days for all of the teachers in that school. Teachers may be taking 6-8 days but because teachers do have surgery and babies that school average is high. This is a stupid statistic most likely crated to make all teachers look negligent.

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    Replies
    1. You make a good point. I always prefer to see the raw data so that we know how the numbers were cooked.

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  5. This appears to be an average number of days and not reported by teacher. So, if 2 teachers in a school of 60 teachers take 12 weeks maternity leave and 1 teacher in that school has surgery and is out for 6 weeks then that averages to 3 days for all of the teachers in that school. Teachers may be taking 6-8 days but because teachers do have surgery and babies that school average is high. This is a stupid statistic most likely crated to make all teachers look negligent.

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  6. I believe you see alot of teacher absenteeism esp. at struggling schools because teachers do not feel supported by the district or the union. How could they when you take away planning days & interrupt xmas vacations? If teachers are in training they're still missing instructional time. Why not get rid of early release days and have planning days once a month so teachers can receive training & have their meetings without being away from their students? Oh and why have weather days in the school year if you're not going to use them. Thx DTU.

    Just a thought. There has to be a better way.

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