RI #1 In Teacher Absenteeism

Earlier this week, USA Today highlighted that Rhode Island was the state with the most teacher absenteeism in the country (GoLocalProv picked it up today), according to a study by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

New research suggests that teacher absenteeism is becoming problematic in U.S. public schools, as about one in three teachers miss more than 10 days of school each year. The nation’s improving economic picture may also worsen absenteeism as teachers’ fears ease that they’ll lose their job over taking too many sick days, researchers say.
First-ever figures from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, compiled in 2012, also show that in a few states, nearly half of teachers miss more than 10 days in a typical 180-day school year.
Among them:
Rhode Island: 50.2%
Hawaii: 49.6%
Arkansas: 48.5%
New Mexico: 47.5%
Michigan: 45.6%
Schools serving larger proportions of African-American and Latino students are “disproportionately exposed to teacher absence,” notes researcher Raegen Miller, who studied the federal survey data for the Washington-based Center for American Progress, progressive think tank.

The national average is about 33% (“1 in 3”), but in RI it’s 50%. Great. Look, I’m as tired as anyone of highlighting yet another negative “high” ranking, but when national publications highlight the results of Federal Government studies, we can’t ignore them. The rest of the nation won’t. So, yet again, we’re the “hey, at least we don’t live there” state.

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Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

“Schools serving larger proportions of African-American and Latino students are “disproportionately exposed to teacher absence,”
This is stated baldly and in a “non-judgmental” way, still I suspect that it was included in the report for a reason. Perhaps it is to indicate an attitude which may prevail in those schools.
Since it is a “union job” is there any downside for a teacher with a high absentee rate?

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

While it’s true that progressives cherrypick studies that portray the state favorably and conservatives do the opposite, there is a world of difference between selecting from the basket that holds 99% of the harvest and scavenging among the few berries that fell out. Sites like RIFuture have to go to tremendous lengths to find studies that support their narrative. This site can throw a stone over its shoulder to hit two.

KenW
KenW
8 years ago

“Schools serving larger proportions of African-American and Latino students are “disproportionately exposed to teacher absence,” notes researcher Raegen Miller”
I wonder how that works in Hawaii being a very close second to Rhode Island with reported 49.6% average teacher absenteeism as there is no majority ethnic race in Hawaii and everyone is treated as a minority.
One known true fact in Hawaii is when the surf is up and great even the college professors don’t show up for class never mind the elementary and secondary teachers. That is why Hawaii is first state in the nation to add surfing to the educational curriculum.

Monique
Monique(@monique-chartier)
Editor
8 years ago

“Sites like RIFuture have to go to tremendous lengths to find studies that support their narrative. This site can throw a stone over its shoulder to hit two.”
This or any (clear-eyed) website. That’s right. When two people are standing at a barrel of fish with firearms (oo, violent metaphor), the real effort comes with shooting but not hitting any of the piscine contents.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

Ken W.
“One known true fact in Hawaii is when the surf is up and great even the college professors don’t show up for class”
Some truths are universal. Reminds me of the opening days of duck, or deer, season when I was a kid. Or reports that there was snow in Vermont.
Still, I have to assume that many teachers are taking “paid holidays”.

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

Perhaps we should be asking why Rhode Island teachers are so much sicker than teachers in other states. Is it something in the water?

KenW
KenW
8 years ago

Warrington Faust,
It’s weird in Hawaii as there is only 1 school district for the whole state and the State of Hawaii operates the Department of Education which all primary, secondary, university and college educators work for the state.
However, good sets of incoming waves can happen anytime of the week or month throughout the year. Winter months November to March is when Hawaii has largest waves and most surfing contests are held.

KenW
KenW
8 years ago

At its February 5, 2013 meeting the Hawaii Board of Education (BOE) Human Resources Committee released a statewide school by school printout documenting teacher absenteeism rates for every school in the state.
The Center for American Progress explains:
“Hawaii’s distribution (of teacher absenteeism) is somewhat bi-modal. One cluster of schools has very low rates; the rest have values concentrated at the high end of the range. It would be reasonable to hypothesize that absence cultures in Hawaii’s schools exert a strong influence on individual teachers’ behavior. In some schools this means it’s rare for any teacher to be absent more than 10 days; in others, the majority of teachers miss school frequently.”
According to the State of Hawaii BOE numbers 26% (3,280 total educators) of Hawaii’s primary and secondary school teachers are absent 10 days or more out of 12,716 total educators.
How did that number grow to 49.6% of total teacher population in Hawaii absent more than 10 days in a 180 day school year by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights study?
Link to Hawaii BOE school by school printout:
://www.hawaiiboe.net/Meetings/Notices/Documents/02-05-13%20HR/Teacher%20Absenteeism%2011-12%20PDF.pdf

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

Ken,
There is a question left begging, even in the Hawaiian report, “What are we going to do about it?”.

KenW
KenW
8 years ago

Warrington Faust, Hawaii education department historically has been understaffed and underpaid with the high cost of living in the islands. Average family of 4 with a house needs at minimum $60,000 a year to live and breakeven. The median single family house in Hawaii is $645,000. Vast majority of teachers in Hawaii work two jobs to make ends meet. Hawaii Board of Education has to hire upwards to 2,100 new teachers every year due to teachers not becoming accredited/certified (you must take classes in Hawaii culture and language as well as your core subject matter and pass yearly tests to keep your teaching job), retiring or quitting leaving and moving back to the mainland because of low salary. Hawaii teachers were furloughed every Friday without pay for almost a year and took a 5% pay cut on top of salary lost to furloughs to help balance the state budget during the recession. In Hawaii currently there are pay step raises for teachers from step 1 through step 6 any raises after step 6 is contingent on the union negotiating an across the board raise in future years. In other words after six years on the job all your salary increases halt ($54,741 top salary in Hawaii). Currently the Department of Education made a last and best offer (take it or leave it) to the school union July 1, 2011. Proposed salaries are $32,222 for teacher with Bachelor’s Degree, $34,799 for teacher with Bachelor’s Degree + 30 or Master’s Degree for teachers who have not completed a state approved teacher education program (SATEP) enter into Step 1 For teachers who have completed a state approved teacher education program (SATEP) enter into Step 5 (0-6 yrs.); proposed salaries are $42,509 for teacher with Bachelor’s Degree, $45,909 for teacher with Bachelor’s Degree +… Read more »

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

Autistic Commenter Ken – What is the basis for your assertion that the “vast majority of teachers in Hawaii work two jobs to make ends meet”? I find that very hard to believe. The salaries you list are starting salaries, which go up substantially as teachers stay on the job. Why is a “single family home” the starting point in your calculus for reasonable compensation? Not everyone can or should be able to buy a single family home in every area of this country. My significant other and I can’t afford a single family home in the Northern Virginia area. We rented and then bought a townhouse like everyone else. We’ll live.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
8 years ago

Dan,
Ken has reached Nirvana (or is it Vahalla. There is no point in questioning the wonderfulness of Hawaii.
Not sure how the “two jobs” is defined. I thought it was normal for teachers to have a summer business, it shows initiative. I know one who has a power washing business and another that repairs small engines.
Face it, they self selected a cushy job with lots of bennys, why are we supposed to feel badly for them?

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

I’m often accused of “hating the teachers.” Both my parents are teachers. My brother and his wife are teachers. My SO is a teacher. I substitute taught while in school. Speaking truth is hate speech now, apparently.
The reality is they make decent pay and phenomenal benefits for a job with relatively low qualifications. It’s not an easy job, but it’s not *that hard.* They can call themselves professionals, but it’s nowhere near as difficult as being a doctor or a lawyer. It’s important to remember it’s a 9-month-a-year job, so yes, many have summer jobs for supplemental income. My SO consults and subs, so technically she has 3 jobs (while also getting her doctorate), but it would be irresponsible to portray it like we’re suffering through a poverty-level existence. Fortunately we live in a right-to-work state so we don’t have to fork over $1100 to our respective unions each year for their despicable form of representation.

Bob
Bob
8 years ago

To show their appreciation for this distinction, the teachers want to reward us with binding arbitration. If only we would be so appreciative as to accept their offer.
Go teachers….rah rah!!!

KenW
KenW
8 years ago

Warrington Faust and Dan, You assume in Hawaii the school year is a straight 180 days a year like on the mainland. Wrong—in Hawaii children attend school 12 months out of the year with various school breaks of 1-14 days over the year especially around holidays. A second job is defined as working part-time 20 or more hours a week beside working your regular fulltime job. Median single family home in Hawaii is $645,000 and median condominium is $313,000 with average rental property ranging $2,500-$2,000 per month without utilities and/or parking if it is not included in rent (yes you might rent an apartment for $2,500 a month and have to pay $50 parking per month). Grocery food products shipped in from mainland are $1-$3 above mainland prices and gasoline in Hawaii is now over $5 per gallon. If it is not 100% raw materials sourced and made in Hawaii it is imported at a higher price due to shipping costs. That is why cost of living in Hawaii is reported to be higher than the mainland. The standard rule of thumb benchmark in Hawaii for average family of 4 with a house needs at minimum $60,000 a year in salaries to live, pay mortgage and breakeven for the year. Working as a teacher in Hawaii is not a cushy job as the school department is understaffed and high turnover rate each year requiring 2,100 new teachers to fill vacancies. Dan, You said; “The salaries you list are starting salaries, which go up substantially as teachers stay on the job.” Not only did I quote the starting salaries but also the advanced degrees required and top salaries at step 6 top salary on the ladder so you are wrong in your assumption of Hawaii teacher salaries going higher. Hawaii Department… Read more »

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

Autistic Commenter Ken – According to your own numbers, a two-parent household would make significantly more than $60k if they were both teachers in Hawaii. In fact, they would most likely be making $80-100k, well above median income. I don’t see where the problem is. Nobody NEEDS a single family house in Hawaii or anywhere else. A single family house is a huge luxury in many areas of this country. I argue that is an inappropriate starting point when examining adequate compensation.
Please don’t let any of this convince you that I give the smallest crap about Hawaii. I truly, sincerely, don’t care about anything that happens in that irrelevant state one iota. We are here to discuss Rhode Island, as you so frequently need reminding of.

KenW
KenW
8 years ago

Dan,
The American Dream is to own your own house and raise a family.
If you don’t believe and aspire to live the American Dream so be it as that is your prerogative.
I was pointing out to Warrington Faust the difference between the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights study numbers and State of Hawaii Board of Education numbers which would also impact Rhode Island’s dubious numbers and he asked me what Hawaii was doing about it.
As I was explaining to Warrington Faust possible reasons for the discrepancy you jumped in with your comments and wild false assumptions.
I don’t care what you think about Hawaii but you better understand one thing, Hawaii is you frontline to your very existence and life in Virginia.
Honolulu, Hawaii is home to the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR) which encompasses about half the earth’s surface, stretching from the waters off the west coast of the U.S. to the western border of India, and from Antarctica to the North Pole. There are few regions as culturally, socially, economically, and geo-politically diverse as the Asia-Pacific. The 36 nations that comprise the Asia-Pacific region are home to more than 50% of the world’s population, three thousand different languages, several of the world’s largest militaries, and five nations allied with the U.S. through mutual defense treaties. Two of the three largest economies are located in the Asia-Pacific along with ten of the fourteen smallest. The AOR includes the most populous nation in the world, the largest democracy, and the largest Muslim-majority nation. More than one third of Asia-Pacific nations are smaller, island nations that include the smallest republic in the world and the smallest nation in Asia.
Honolulu has already been bombed once taking United States into WWII.

Dan
Dan
8 years ago

It’s a simple matter to scroll to the top of this thread to see who began ranting about the faraway state of Hawaii, of which we have all grown so terribly bored here. When I saw Hawaii listed in the report, I immediately knew the simple mention of the state would be enough to launch you into one of your Aspergian number-listing episodes.
We tried the “house on every plot” policy in this country. In case you have a short memory, it didn’t work out so well. Like many children, I grew up in an apartment for most of my childhood. It was fine. If people want to own their own house, I have a solution for them: DON’T LIVE IN HAWAII.

David S
David S
8 years ago

Dan Funny. Very funny response. Did you live in the RI state?
One thing I wonder about. This absenteeism. Is it because certain states like RI and HI provide more reasons for a teacher to be absent? Like pregnancy? Or, family illness?

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