The Providence Journal reports, today, on an Education Week study finding that 37% of Rhode Island public school teachers are absent 10 or more days of the school year. For a little additional perspective, consider that teachers’ work year is generally only 180 days as it is, with multiple extended breaks, a large number of holidays, and full summers spent out of the classroom.
What’s more, the number appears to be conservative, inasmuch as Linda Borg reports:
The report excluded teachers on maternity leave and absences greater than 10 consecutive days.
So, the real percentage is greater. While from an employer’s standpoint, it’s reasonable to exclude outliers in such an analysis, from students’ perspective, it doesn’t make any difference why the teacher is out of work so much. The Education Week article, for example, points to a study finding that 10 days of an absent teacher has a measurable effect on students’ math achievement. Table 2 of that study, by the way, makes clear that teacher absences are conspicuously heavy on Fridays and, less so, Mondays.
Because they’re part of a unionized political force, reactions from the public will vary from one extreme to the other, on this. Some will excuse the numbers for one reason or another because they’re on the same political side, while others will take a negative interpretation to an extreme. At the very least, I’d suggest that it’s another indication that we are not well served by an approach to employing teachers that gives them employment terms more appropriate to an assembly line.