August 22 2012
Vicki E. Alger
“Role models they ain’t,” says the New York Post, responding to a new state report documenting school performance. As the Post continues:
Educators at a new high school in Queens who were brought in to reverse years of poor student performance and truancy issues are instead giving kids lessons on skipping class, according to a shocking report by state officials.
The 15 teachers at Rockaway Park HS for Environmental Sustainability had collectively posted an 80 percent daily attendance rate when state reviewers came in March — 3 percentage points worse than the kids. The review shows that while school administrators were moving mountains every day to bolster student attendance, they had no answer for how to deal with no-show adults.
At a minimum, absent students got daily phone calls to their homes and their parents could be summoned for face-to-face sit-downs. By contrast, “interventions by school administrators regarding the improvement of teacher attendance was [sic] not provided at the time of the [state] site visit,” the documents show….
Department of Education officials attributed some of the sick-outs to three instructors who were out on medical leave.
But they said the school managed to finish the year with a 95 percent attendance rate, with only one teacher below 80 percent….
Ninth- and 10th-graders who attend the school largely defended their instructors, and were skeptical about the accuracy of the state’s data. “That is not a problem here,” said 16-year-old Joseph Kindred when asked about the issue. “If we’re passing tests, they must be teaching and are here to support us.”
But one student said the learning environment takes a downturn every time there’s a substitute in the front of the class. “Most of the teachers have good intentions, but when they’re absent all hell breaks loose because no one listens,” the student said. “We sit there and throw papers all day.”
Perhaps Queens City officials should dock the pay of teachers who are chronically absent and reward diligent teachers for their service instead. Tardy or truant teachers should also have their retirement benefits adjusted down. In any case, students shouldn’t pay for teachers’ truancy with diminished learning opportunities, and taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill with their hard-earned tax dollars.