On any given school day, up to 40 percent of teachers in New Jersey’s Camden City Public Schools are absent from their classrooms. Such a high figure probably would not stand out in parts of the developing world, but it contrasts sharply with the 3 percent national rate of absence for full-time wage and salaried American workers, and the 5.3 percent rate of absence for American teachers overall. Certainly, it isn’t unreasonable for Camden residents to expect lower rates of teacher absence, particularly when the district annually spends top dollar—more than $22,000 per pupil—to educate its students. And advocates for students of color, who constitute 99.5 percent of the district’s enrollment, could potentially use these new data from the Department of Education to support a civil rights complaint.
That’s the first paragraph of a new report out from the Center for American Progress called “Teacher Absence as a Leading Indicator of Student Achievement.” Conclusions are based on data collected from the federal government’s Civil Rights Data Collection released earlier this year. CAP finds, among other items of interest, that “students in schools serving high proportions of African American or Latino students are disproportionately exposed to teacher absence” and that “teachers are absent from traditional public schools more than 10 times per year at a rate that is 15.2 percentage points higher than in charter schools.”
One other item: the last sentence of the above graf is most likely a reference to the complaint filed by three parents of young Camden schoolchildren, who charge that enrollment in the Camden schools and lack of access to alternatives is a constitutional violation of every child’s right to a “thorough and efficient system of education.” See background here.