Newly released data from the Nevada Policy Research Institute shows more than half of the teachers in the Clark County School district used up most of their sick days last year. That means almost 60 percent of educators called out more than 10 days during the 2015-2016 school year.
Critics say teacher absences take away from valuable learning time, but the teacher’s union says educators have earned sick leave and the stresses of the job often forces them out of the classroom.
Out of the almost 18,000 CCSD teachers, more than 10,500 were absent more than 10 days.
CCSD teachers accrue a total of 15-sick days every school year, but when they’re away from the classroom too much, it can have an affect on students.
“The more the teacher is absent from the classroom, the harder it is for them to connect to those kids,” said Michael Schaus, the communications director for Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI).
Schaus says the absentee rate of CCSD teachers is triple the national average. Schaus also said that educators at local charter schools are absent far less.
“Their chronic absentee was less than 10 percent, and I think a big part of that, again, might be culture,” Schaus said.
In a statement, the Clark County Education Association said:
“Educators earned their sick leave. It is not given to them. They accrue it. And, they use it for good reasons. The stress on educators has increased over the years. Overcrowded classrooms, crisis-level vacancies, poor textbooks and supplies and a fundamental disregard by the School District to pay teachers accordingly, have all contributed to growing illness, fatigue, stress, and severe morale problems.
NPRI’s right-wing research and conclusions have consistently targeted educators and fault teachers for every problem public schools are going through—when in fact, educators in the classroom are the only thing providing students with an education.”
“I mean I don’t want to sit here and sound like we’re attacking teachers for taking too many days off,” Schaus said. “Ultimately, the bottom line here is that there is, there are multiple problems with public education right now.”
Schaus says teachers calling out is nothing new, but it also hasn’t gotten any better.
“I really hope that we can do something with maybe the new Congress or Senate coming in; that we can get some increase in teacher pay,” said Rosette Degennaro, has a nephew who attends a CCSD school. “They’re the future of our generation.”
CCSD has disputed some of the findings in the NPRI study. The school district’s statement is below:
“This report relies on old data that may not reflect the current situation at the Clark County School District.
The data does not separate absences that may be due to planned time off for professional development to allow teachers to train and provide our students with greater educational resources, pre-approved time off, as well as family and medical leave among other factors.
CCSD does agree with research that shows a long-term teacher in a classroom is an integral part of the learning experience.” — CCSD spokesperson