Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Teachers to Be Rated on Chronic Absence - parody

The release of the Milano report finding that
... more than 20 percent of the city’s elementary school pupils were chronically absent during the 2007–08 school year—that is, they missed at least 20 days of the 185-day school year. In districts serving poor neighborhoods, the numbers are even higher. In the south and central Bronx, in central Harlem, and in several neighborhoods in central Brooklyn, 30 percent or more of the pupils were chronically absent, according to the analysis. In contrast, only 5.2 percent of pupils were chronically absent in District 26, which serves the middle class neighborhood of Bayside, Queens… Of the 725 public schools serving elementary grades (excluding charter schools and schools serving severely disabled children), 165 have chronic absentee rates of 30 percent or more… [MORE and NY Times article]

has led to a landmark agreement between the UFT and Tweed to rate teachers on their ability to prevent chronic absence of their students, Ed Notes News is reporting.

Joel Klein said, "These high absentee rates are clearly due to teachers who do not do lessons interesting enough to get their kids to want to come to school."

"No excuses," proclaimed his able assistant Christopher Cerf when asked about the vast differences in the numbers between the poorer and wealthier areas of the city. "Teachers have to figure out ways to get these kids into school. You do what you have to do. If mouth to mouth is necessary, then damnit do it. That is the way to show a spirit willing to close the achievement gap."

Surgical masks, rubber gloves and hazmat suits will be issued to teachers making visits to sick beds. "See, we're not as heartless as they make us out to be," said Cerf. Schools that do not improve will be closed and replaced by condos.

Randi Weingarten agreed to sign on to a plan to grade teachers based on their attendance figures as long as the results are not publicized. "This once and for all ends the public pillorying of teachers based on the attendance rates of their kids," said a UFT spokesperson. "The results will be used by teachers solely to improve by looking at what is wrong with their teaching to keep so many kids away from school for a month.

Ask but don't tell
The spokesperson said, "And the best part of this is our victory on the Klein-Cerf demand that teachers looking for a job have to show the results. Principals may ask but teachers don't have to tell."

Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott will speak at a forum addressing the impact of chronic absenteeism in New York City public schools, following the release of a report from The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs, Strengthening Schools by Strengthening Families. Deputy Mayor Walcott will talk about the importance of creating in all schools a culture that recognizes that failure for our students, regardless of their family or life circumstances, is not an option. He will also reinforce the Department of Education’s efforts to hold schools accountable for students’ academic achievement, and highlight efforts to combat chronic absenteeism and the role of community collaboration and partnerships in that work.
[Last paragraph NOT a parody.]


    ***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*** October 21, 2008
    Contact: Sarah Krauss
    212.669.4193; 917.541.0936

    Public Advocate Gotbaum on High Absence Rate in Schools

    Public Advocate Gotbaum said, "The DOE plays hooky when it comes to a
    strong absenteeism policy. They are placing the blame on principals, but
    I go to schools all over the city, and I see principals who are trying
    hard to address the problem head-on. They want to lower the absenteeism
    rates at their schools, but they can't do it without institutional
    support from the DOE. The DOE must do more to increase attendance
    monitors in high-need communities and provide resources and logistical
    support to help schools deal with language barriers when trying to reach
    parents and students at non-english speaking homes. And more should be
    done to help principals find creative solutions like working with CBOs
    that know the community and expanding school-based health care, so kids
    aren't missing full days of school for a doctor visit."

  2. When the report aired this evening on ABC TV News, it began by highlighting a school in the Bronx that does not have high absenteeism. The reasons given are that the school is so compelling, and educationally exciting that kids want to come every day and that, accoring to the school administration "being absent is just not an option" (Is that like "just say no"?) I assume that very soon the follow-up will be to blame the teachers becasue if they can do it in that school, then there is no reason why all schools can't also do such a great job that kids will want to attend every day, irregardless of the multitude of issues that we know our kids face- sickness including asthma, busing problems (we still have a bus that arrives over one hour late EVERY DAY), family crisis, and other family difficulties in getting the kids to school. Norm, you made me laugh out loud. But if we just sit back and wait, your fantasy will become reality. Betsey Gotbaum is on the right track with some of her suggestions but the situtation also has to be attacked at the city level. And not with the same mayor who has already lead the schools and the city down this path of doom. Is there any data comparing absenteeism during Bloomberg/Klein time with the prior administration?

  3. In fear of a bad grade on our school report card, last year, our new Leadership Academy Principal with our new secretary came up with a solution to our chronic absent and late children--discharge those kids; pass the problem to another school. But then there was concern about our declining enrollment, especially when the principal learned that the teacher with the least seniority, and not the senior teacher, would be excessed.

  4. Hey Ednoters,

    Pataki was right. These kids should be offered up to an 8th grade education. Eight and out unless they must show potential for being sent on to the high school.

    If those lazy kids are playing hooky then they should be discharged from schools, taken out of their home since their parents are setting bad examples anyway, and put them in workhouses.

    But if they are sick, they should stay home so other kids and the adults don't get sick.

    Who needs illegal immigrants when we have these kids with more of them born everyday! What a supply! There is a financial crisis, damn it! This calls for more much needed deregulation -- repeal those dumb child labor laws.

    They can deliver newspapers, shine shoes, sell lemonade, mow the lawns of the projects and homes in the outerboros, and learn useful skills like pushing buttons with pictures of burgers on them, wiping tables, etc. We should be able to trade them to the suburbs at a significant profit.

    Benny Smartsenstein
    Bayside, NY

  5. Dear Benny,

    When NY becomes a wasteland or a shell of a city, we could use the children for food.

    Right now I am studying how we might make this possible by rereading Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal."

    Hungry in Brooklyn

  6. I was absent 60 days a year in elementary school because I had an insane parent who kept me out of school when she was absent or felt like keeping me out of school. I LOVED SCHOOL. All I wanted to do was go to school. Fortunately, I had really high test scores and always passed my classes or I'd've been left back. Oh, and I went to a Hebrew School which is why I didn't get left back -- they didn't have the heart to hold me back knowing I knew the work. A public school would have, anyway. But, my point is: Absenteeism happens for the STRANGEST reasons.

    And hey, absent or not, I got into Stuyvesant High School.

    The infernally stupid DOE ought not to look at absenteeism so much as just REAL academic achievement. Stop watering down tests, stop harassing teachers, but spend the time and money to look carefully at the kids' skills and abilities. Do you know how many SMART and HIGHLY SKILLED kids I have had who barely attended school because of horrible family problems? I've had students who were, by far, the strongest in my class, barely attend because of parents who abused them. These kids had enough academic interest on their own to have well-above grade level reading levels in the same way I did.

    The real problem is that there is not enough money/effort being put into looking into and helping the families of children who are absent. There's also not enough money spent on insuring that the children who are present get a good education.

    I learned because I wanted to learn and my violently abusive mother also happened to be college-educated so I had a formidable model for the speaking and reading of English. Mainly, however, I devoured materials which were put in front of me, at home or in school. I didn't need any academic help. I needed a social worker as have the kids who I have taught who live the life I did.

    I'd love to know how many of those absent kids are truly behind academically. You'd be surprised, I bet, by how many ARE NOT. I'm not saying absenteeism is not a problem. It's just not that simple -- the correlation between attending school and achieving isn't direct.

    Look at the kids who are in school and find out: how many of them are getting the services and attention they need. Deal with those who come to the building. Those who don't come have bigger problems than academics and need A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT APPROACH.

    At 40, I am pitifully behind socially, lack some basic skills in physical organizations and have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I read and write beautifully and have wonderful test scores. There are things you can't see on an SAT and GRE and THOSE ARE THE THINGS THAT KIDS WHO ARE ABSENT NEED HELP WITH.

    Coda: I had many gifted writers in my classes at Rikers Island. Many of those students had been out of school for years.


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