According to teacher attendance data compiled by the district, nearly half of the teachers in Newark’s traditional public schools missed at least 13 days of work in the 2016-17 school year and 21% of teachers missed 20 days or more.
As a recent study from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute showed, the problem of chronic teacher absenteeism isn’t unique to Newark Public Schools. However, Newark Teachers Union president John Abeigon’s excuses for those absences are certainly novel.
According to Brody, here’s how Abeigon explained the district’s high rate of teacher absences:
“Newark Teachers Union President John Abeigon said poor parents who lack child care often send sick children to school and spread germs to staff. Beyond that, he blamed many absences on low morale due to the district’s pay-for-performance system and use of achievement data as part of teacher ratings. Going to work ‘shouldn’t be stressful to the point where it’s making you sick between anxiety and paranoia,’ he said.”
Wow. If Abeigon can’t even accept a tiny measure of responsibility for this problem and pledge to fix it moving forward, how can anyone expect the Newark Teachers Union to work in partnership with the district to improve the city’s schools? It certainly doesn’t bode well for the return of Newark schools to local control.
You can read Brody’s full piece at the Wall Street Journal here.