When the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Nancy Waymack is feeling a little under the weather, she says can work from home.
But teachers don’t quite face the same scenario when they’re out of their classrooms.
“A teacher can’t do that,” Waymack said. “It’s kind of like a pilot. The plane’s not going to fly unless someone’s there to fly it.”
In a report released this week, Waymack’s advocacy group found that two of Ohio’s biggest school districts may be dealing with that scenario more frequently.
Nationwide, teachers show up for class 94 percent of the time, the report said.
But in Cleveland, teachers were absent three weeks per year, or 15.60 days, on average, missing more classes than any of the other 40 big-city districts surveyed.
Columbus had the second highest number of teacher absences with an average of 14.82 days.
Across the country, the District of Columbia’s teachers averaged 7.28 days and New York City clocked in 8.8 days. At 6.09 days, Indianapolis had the top spot on the list.
Some of those absences could have been for teacher training sessions. The survey counted those as well as absences for illness and personal reasons.
In the view of the teacher quality advocacy group, an absence is an absence.
“Regardless of the reason, we need both districts and teachers to do everything they can to minimize the time a teacher’s away from their class,” Waymack, one of the report’s authors, said.
Aside from the loss of learning students may suffer when their classroom teacher is out, there’s another loss: money.
Collectively, the 40 districts spent more than $420 million to pay for substitute teachers last year, the report said.