More Than 5 Percent of Teachers Absent Each Day – Taxpayers Pay the Price

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.

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I am a retired elementary teacher having taught for 34 yrs in an inner city district. I retired with 32 5th graders in my classroom-no support, and children w/a multitude of sp. needs, not enough money to get me the basic class necessities,making it necessary for me to buy the essentials. I arrived @ school @ 8AM, left @ 3:15 PM. Once home after taking care of my own kids, helping them do their hw, feeding them dinner etc. I would sit down and correct papers, and prepare for the next day usually getting to bed @ 11 PM. I am tired of hearing how little we do, and what a short day we had. BTW this wasn’t a sp ed class where the teachers must write individual lessons for each student. For the past 9 years I have been subbing, correcting NYS tests, and working as a clinical supervisor… Read more »

Matt K

I am sorry but I am a teacher and the only reasons that I am absent is I am sick, have a medical emergency or I am at a workshop that the school wants us to go to. As a teacher it is not like any other job where you can leave and go to the doctor. Many of my co-workers have to take days off so that they can get all of the new paperwork for the students done! Remember You can not shut the students down during the day and say I need my paperework hours right now! Not only this but if I get hurt (I saved my Sick days in case) i can not teach at my school because the fracilities would not allow me to get around to teach. By the way, My school district furlowed us for four years did not pay for tuition… Read more »


This has been going on for years now. At least in New Jersey and New York anyway. So what is the point you’re trying to make in your article? That the education union has negotiated some very good sweetheart deals at the expense of the taxpayers over the years?

Again, for anyone living in “liberal land”, where no issue is too small to not warrant yet another “special assessment” or “just a few dollars more each year for the children” in higher taxes, this is just standard operating procedure. Most taxpayers, especially in deep blue states of the northeast, are painfully aware of the high costs associated with providing public education. Our property tax bills already reflect the fact that school budgets represent well over 50 percent of the total bill.


As a former So Jersey resident…Camden and closely connected
School Districts have to deal with difficult classroom situations on
A daily basis. In some districts it is a matter of mental survival. No
Wonder 40% of educators may be out on any given day….