from Newsmax –
Each day more than one in 20 full-time teachers in America is not on the job, thanks in part to generous union contracts, and billions of dollars must be spent on substitute teachers to replace them.
The Department of Education reported that in one recent year 5.3 percent of U.S. teachers were absent on any given day. But an article from Education Next points to the Substitute Teaching Institute at Utah State University, which claims that up to 10 percent of teachers are out on any given day.
Teachers take off an average of 9.4 days during a typical 180-day school year. But 36 percent of teachers take off more than 10 days a year, and in some districts the percentage is significantly higher, according to the Education Next article by June Kronholz, a former Wall Street Journal reporter.
In Camden, N.J., for example, the school district last year had to find substitutes for up to 40 percent of its teachers each day. And in Providence, R.I., teachers took off an average of 21 days each school year.
Kronholz points out that teachers often justify their frequent absences by contending that they are exposed to all kinds of germs from their students and to intense stress in tough schools.
“But other research contends that teachers’ frequent absences are driven by generous leave provisions in their contracts, which typically include time off for illness and personal choice and, in many cases, family deaths, voting, religious observances, union business, conferences, cancer screening, even driver’s license renewal,” Kronholz writes.
In Columbus, Ohio, the union contract gives teachers 20 paid days off, in addition to school holidays and summer breaks. Teachers get 21 days in Boston, 25 days in Hartford, and up to 28 days in Newark, N.J., according to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).
By contrast, about one-quarter of all private-sector employees get no sick leave at all in addition to paid vacation.
Students often pay the price for frequent teacher absences, since many school districts have minimal requirements for substitutes. Of 113 large school districts in the NCTQ’s database, less than one-fourth require substitutes to have any teaching credentials. Only 37 districts require a college degree.
In some districts, in fact some states, substitutes need only a high-school diploma or GED.
These substitutes often assume the role of babysitters rather than teachers, keeping order in the classroom or assigning busy work. NCTQ President Kate Walsh said “a teacher not in a classroom is a missed opportunity for learning.”
Taxpayers pay the price as well: Substitute teachers receive an average of $80 a day, although larger urban districts can pay more than $200, and the cost of hiring substitutes is estimated at $4 billion a year.