“Chronic Teacher Absenteeism” Report Funded by Charter School Industry Attempts to Undermine Public Schools; Unions

Albuquerque – American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Stephanie Ly released the following statement:

“The recently released report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is the latest attempt by the charter school industry to undermine traditional public schools. The timing of its release is especially suspect, as the charter school industry is desperately attempting to divert attention away from the numerous nationwide reports of fraud and mismanagement of public funds, including recent reports that nearly $700,000 was diverted from an Albuquerque charter school into accounts controlled by its director and her daughter.

“This report, funded by the industry itself, attempts to make the case that educators are more likely to be chronically absent in traditional public school settings than they are in charter schools. Their case hinges on the idea that educators are ‘chronically absent’ after using more than ten days of sick or personal leave; despite roughly half of US states allowing 10+ days of leave through negotiated contracts. Tellingly, the authors of the report admit their data is ‘incomplete or aging,’ and it ‘cannot establish a causal relationship between any specific policy or factor and absenteeism.’ Data included in this report for New Mexico is clearly incomplete and seems to be based on the assumption that all school districts in New Mexico operate under a collective bargaining agreement.

“All of this boils down to an attempt to discredit traditional public schools, public educators, and the bargained contracts between educators, their local school boards, and in some cases, their state. It is incredible, in a profession composed of a majority of women, that the report’s authors would want punish an educator for becoming pregnant or battling breast cancer by discouraging the use of their earned sick leave or personal days.

“New Mexicans are connecting the dots on the systematic abuse of public education in the United States. From punishment via the New Mexico teacher evaluation system for using contractually-earned leave, to Governor Martinez’s cruel veto of the recent ‘Teachers are Human, Too’ bill, to a diversion of public funds away from public schools, the New Mexico Public Education Department is complicit in the attempt to discredit and dismantle New Mexico’s public education system for the benefit of the charter school industry.”

September 20, 2017                                          
Contact: John Dyrcz