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  • Re: Teacher Absences / Letter to The Editor

    To the Editor:

    Once again, the Post-Standard misinterpreted the facts and published inflammatory conclusions that are, at best, misleading and, at worst, flat-out wrong ("Syracuse schools struggle with staffing as teachers take long weekends," July 31, 2017). The truth is, teacher attendance in Syracuse is excellent. Despite this, both the Syracuse Teachers Association and the city school district continue to work collaboratively to address and resolve isolated problems as they emerge.

    Specifically, the district's report on staff attendance makes clear that more than half of the city's teachers have attendance rates above 95 percent, and that - on average - teachers' daily attendance is above 90 percent. Your own story notes that it is "not uncommon" for 200 of the district's 3,500 staff members to be absent on a given day. Well, that's a daily attendance rate of above 94 percent, which undermines your own bombastic headline.

    The reality is, all schools are germ factories. No matter how often teachers use hand sanitizer and remind kids to cover their noses when they sneeze, they still come down with colds and the flu. In addition, about three quarters of Syracuse's teachers are women. That means that, by and large, they are moms and step-moms, grandmothers and care-givers. They not only get sick, but their own children and others in their care get sick - and it serves no one's interest to have sick kids and sick teachers in our schools, getting others sick. This is also true of bus monitors, food service workers, custodians, administrators - all of whom work under the same trying conditions but, the district's report shows, have lower overall attendance rates than the district's classroom teachers.


    In lumping all these professionals together, and putting teachers on trial with the public, the Post-Standard does a grave disservice to the respect and morale of the dedicated classroom teachers. It feels like, once again, the Post-Standard is trying to scapegoat teachers and rile the public for problems that come through the schoolhouse door. Let me provide just one example: those staff members who file for a sick day months in advance? When one makes an important doctor's appointment, isn't it professional and courteous to let one's employer know of an upcoming absence, so that a substitute can be arranged in advance? Demonizing staff by suggesting they are abusing sick leave or truant when, in fact, some have serious medical conditions requiring long-term care, is unacceptable and beneath the Post-Standard's high ethical standards.

    Finally, the Syracuse Teachers Association fully supports our members' right to use their contractually guaranteed sick and personal days, provided they follow the proper procedures. We agree that all teachers - and other school professionals - should be constructively present, so they may continue their heroic work serving the city's most vulnerable citizens - its schoolchildren. The Post-Standard, rather than looking to inflame, can better serve the public's interests by giving STA members credit for their commitment to children and the city, not reckless criticism for becoming ill, or for nurturing others who do so.

    http://www.syracuse.com/opinion/inde...incart_m-rpt-1
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Re: Teacher Absences / Letter to The Editor started by Fourth VP View original post