‘If we are serious about equity, then there is a moral imperative to provide teachers, especially new teachers serving our highest-needs students, the tools and support they need from the get-go.’
‘The issue is more nuanced than the common portrayal of a statewide, across-the-board teacher shortage crisis. Any effective solution must begin with a more accurate understanding of the problem.’
‘Teachers and other UFT professionals will be making up their own minds about how well the agreement represents their interests.’
‘Sometimes teachers approach me in tears, describing things that happened in their observations that ought not to have happened.’
‘At almost every turn, the contract benefits the Department of Education and does little to improve the lot of the vast majority of union members.’
In addition to the staff shortages, District 75 has a teacher-absentee rate exceeding the rate of New York City teacher absenteeism citywide, according to federal data.
Most members of the Absent Teacher Reserve aren’t there for disciplinary lapses. Many are trapped by a combination of reforms that put experienced teachers on the sideline and made it costly for principals to get them back in the game.
‘If you just look at the data, we’re good,’ says one expert. ‘But if you look at the actual breakout of the teacher turnover rate, it is significantly higher in communities of color.’
There’s disagreement on how to measure chronic teacher absenteeism, and the causes of it are more complicated than you might assume. But there’s no denying big disparities in absentee rates—even among schools in the same district.
Across the city, state and nation, students deal with missing teachers every day. It’s a multifaceted problem whose impact on school performance is often overlooked in the debates about education policy.