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Sunday, February 05, 2006

CPS Student and Teacher Attendance Lacking

I couldn’t help but laugh at the articles I read this morning. Over Sunday morning coffee I read “And for Perfect Attendance, Johnny Gets a Car” in the NYT along with an article in the Sun-Times about teacher absenteeism in the Chicago Public Schools. The NYT article mentioned a program in CPS where students with perfect attendance are eligible to win one month’s mortgage or rent. Funny, CPS appears to have been paying students to come to school while as many as 1,500 teachers get paid to stay home each day. No, make it 1,800 teachers on Fridays. Yes, you read that correctly 1,500 teachers per day on Monday-Thursday, 1,800 teachers on Friday, and they get the summers off too. This wouldn’t cut it in corporate America, but this is the public schools, remember.

As a result of this lousy attendance record, the Chicago Public Schools will start publicizing teacher attendance rates for its schools next year. The union boss Marilyn Stewart responded by saying that, “We have a professional work force, and people are not taking advantage of that situation. I don’t see why the personal information of employees has to be made public…if it’s not related to student achievement.” Let’s be clear, if a teacher isn’t present, student achievement suffers. I have seen students perform well below their pears on standardized tests when their teachers became truant. I also watched a teacher lock a position and refuse to come to school, leaving her students to sit in the auditorium for months. All of these kids failed that class, and had to make it up in the cottage industry known as summer school.

So, Marilyn, I guess teacher attendance does impact student achievement. The union has also claimed that teachers miss school because teaching is a stressful job. Last time I checked teachers got the summers off in Chicago, and nothing beats unwinding from a stressful school year like June, July, and August. Sadly, maybe we should agree to pay the mortgage or rent for one month if a teacher has perfect attendance, wait doesn’t that sort of happen already, and on the public dime in the name of a paycheck? All except for the perfect attendance part that is. How about if we made teachers bring a note to school like the kids and then they could have excused and unexcused absences?

Let’s be clear, if a teacher is sick they should stay home, but if a teacher is a chronic truant they should do us all, including their students a favor and resign. Of course that will never happen because careerists value their paychecks and tend to know their “rights” and how to abuse those “rights”. These types ruin it for the legitimately professional type teachers in Chicago, of which I have known many.

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