Monday, January 30, 2012

Getting A Handle On Teacher Absenteeism

Friends who work in the Rochester City School District tell me that this school year, teacher absences are much lower than in years gone by. One significant reason appears to be that under the leadership of Greece's own Bolgen Vargas, teachers MUST provide detailed lesson plans if they are going to be absent from work. Makes sense, right?

Many teachers are no longer calling in ill, since this requirement was reiterated along with a stern warning that complaints from substitute teachers about inadequate lesson plans would be followed up on. The subs are ecstatic to be able to do more than merely babysit!

Hey Babs, how about giving this a try in Greece? It might help us climb out of the basement on academic performance and it shouldn't require any sort of contractual negotiation, since a lesson plan is a basic "must have."

By jove, I think GCSD might have missed the boat in not hiring Dr. Vargas to be our supt!


Charlie Hubbard said...

AGAIN - I challenge anyone to read the absenteeism part of the gta contract (page 34+35) and tell me we don't have a problem with accountability.

Our 'contracts' are a joke - nothing but worthless, do-nothing, giveaways of taxpayers $$$.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a plan!

Absentee data for teachers seems to be an elusive piece of data at Greece central. So lets just forget the data and go with this lesson plan idea.

The teacher's union says time on task is very important for students. Gosh darn but I'll bet that is true for teachers as well.

I'll wait a month and then send in a FOIL request for teacher's absentee lesson plans. I'll let you know how I make out!

(Our secret: they will have to collect the "before and after" data to determine if the plan is working. Wait till the super finds out they don't have very good "before" data!)

Anonymous said...

The District should require all non-classroom teachers (ESOL, reading, math intervention, speech/language,ect.) to write lesson plans and get subs. That would reduce absences in the District. Those teachers are out more than they are in because it is too easy for them to be out!

Anonymous said...

All Greece Teachers have been required to write lesson plans for subs for years. No story here. You should have checked into what Greece requires first - as for the city, how the heck did they not require this?

SCATS said...

To 8:32PM ~~ It may be "required" but I'll bet no one has checked on them in decades. Besides, 7:06's comment appears to contradict you, hmmmm ;)

Anonymous said...

8:32 All public school teachers in NY state have to write lessons plans for themselves whether or not they will need a sub. They usually only show up when they have a sub but they are supposedly there for the administrator to see at any time. They are part of the observation and yearly performance appraisal.
Although from what we hear the principals only do real observations and appraisals only when they need documentation to dismiss a teacher under the state regs.
Remember "preferred subs" are the ones that the teacher knows will take any plan they are given.

SCATS said...

To 1:45PM ~~ I can't think about lesson plans without recalling how a former Greece teacher pointed to a cabinet & me told that's where she stored her lesson plan ... written 15 YEARS AGO! Because of it's age, she "knew it well." lol

Anonymous said...

1:45--Preferred subs are the ones that can smoothly and professionally handle unruly children and/or crazy situations in the classroom or lunchroom or specials that come up from time to time. They are the ones who frequent our building and know our staff and policies and procedures. They are the subs that have known our students for the past few years and have a relationship with those children. A preferred sub would never WANT to go into a room without structured lesson plans to just "babysit". "Any old plan" is a recipe for disaster for the students AND for the sub.

SCATS said...

To 8:47PM ~~ "Preferred subs" like the ones you speak of are rumored to actually exist ... really, they are ;)

Anonymous said...


I'm sure you have seen this, but I figured I would post it just in case.

I’m going to step out of my usual third-person writing voice for a moment. As a parent I received a letter last week from the Kansas State Board of Education, informing me that my children’s school district had been placed on “improvement” status for failing to meet “adequate yearly progress” under the No Child Left Behind law.

I thought it ironic that our schools were judged inadequate by people who haven’t set foot in them, so I wrote a letter to my local newspaper. Predictably, my letter elicited a deluge of comments in the paper’s online forum. Many remarks came from armchair educators and anti-teacher, anti-public school evangelists quick to discredit anything I had to say under the rationale of “he’s a teacher.” What could a teacher possibly know about education?

Countless arguments used to denigrate public school teachers begin with the phrase “in what other profession….” and conclude with practically anything the anti-teacher pundits find offensive about public education. Due process and collective bargaining are favorite targets, as are the erroneous but tightly held beliefs that teachers are under-worked, over-paid (earning million-dollar pensions), and not accountable for anything.

In what other profession, indeed.

In what other profession are the licensed professionals considered the LEAST knowledgeable about the job? You seldom if ever hear “that guy couldn’t possibly know a thing about law enforcement – he’s a police officer”, or “she can’t be trusted talking about fire safety – she’s a firefighter.”

In what other profession is experience viewed as a liability rather than an asset? You won’t find a contractor advertising “choose me – I’ve never done this before”, and your doctor won’t recommend a surgeon on the basis of her “having very little experience with the procedure”.

In what other profession is the desire for competitive salary viewed as proof of callous indifference towards the job? You won’t hear many say “that lawyer charges a lot of money, she obviously doesn’t care about her clients”, or “that coach earns millions – clearly he doesn’t care about the team.”

But look around. You’ll find droves of armchair educators who summarily dismiss any statement about education when it comes from a teacher. Likewise, it’s easy to find politicians, pundits, and profiteers who refer to our veteran teachers as ineffective, overpriced “dead wood”. Only the rookies could possibly be any good, or worth the food-stamp-eligible starting salaries we pay them.

And if teachers dare ask for a raise, this is taken by many as clear evidence that teachers don’t give a porcupine’s posterior about kids. In fact, some say if teachers really cared about their students they would insist on earning LESS money.

If that entire attitude weren’t bad enough, what other profession is legally held to PERFECTION by 2014? Are police required to eliminate all crime? Are firefighters required to eliminate all fires? Are doctors required to cure all patients? Are lawyers required to win all cases? Are coaches required to win all games? Of course they aren’t.

For no other profession do so many outsiders refuse to accept the realities of an imperfect world. Crime happens. Fire happens. Illness happens. As for lawyers and coaches, where there’s a winner there must also be a loser. People accept all these realities, until they apply to public education.

If a poverty-stricken, drug-addled meth-cooker burns down his house, suffers third degree burns, and then goes to jail; we don’t blame the police, fire department, doctors, and defense attorneys for his predicament. But if that kid doesn’t graduate high school, it’s clearly the teacher’s fault.

And if someone – anyone - tries to tell you otherwise; don’t listen. He must be a teacher.

SCATS said...

To 8:31PM ~~ I believe that same essay was posted last year on a different thread. Just so everyone is aware it should be attributed to David Reber, Aug. 27, 2010.

I find it interesting that the author claims "For no other profession do so many outsiders refuse to accept the realities of an imperfect world" when I find that in no other profession do so many of its professionals refuse to accept ANY responsibility for negative outcomes, ever!

Anonymous said...

How many times did RCSD Union teachers get over 10% raises in exchange for promising to deliver better educated students?
Did they fulfill their end of the bargain?

The head of what NY Union made the statement "When kids start paying Union dues this Union will care about kids education."?

What nonpublic employer pays similar benefits to those given to Union teachers?

Why should taxpayers fund additional education for teachers so the teacher can benefit from the upgraded diploma or change jobs without reimbursing the taxpayers?

FACT, graduating educated students are the outproduct of Public Education. Name any industry where results similar in quality would be tolerated by the employer.

FACT, nobody would go to a hospital where the employees dress like slobs and the standard of care is "You might get well".

Please, name a field of endeavor where employees purport to be professionals, are licensed by the State as professionals, become Union members and fight like hell to dress like slobs.

Lets call it as it appears. The so called professionals are a bad joke, the job they are paid to do ain't being done, and all they produce is excuses. NYS Public Teachers are being paid to build Pontiacs and they're delivering Yugos with 2 flat tires!

SCATS said...

To 11:27PM ~~ I think you stated that VERY well. Time to listen for crickets chirping ...

Anonymous said...

Most of us have to write lesson plans or else our classes uwill be a mess. Stop assuming we don't. Oh wait, SCATS is the know it all on a computer. Keep paying your taxes SCATS. Thanks for the new TV I just bought.

SCATS said...

To 6:54PM ~~ How do you know "Most of us have to write lesson plans..." ?

Oh yeah, you assumed!