Metro schools are minus 1 in 5 teachers, students the day before spring break

Monday, March 14, 2011 at 6:18pm

One out of five Metro teachers and students were absent from school Monday, figures school officials are calling “disappointing.”

Monday, March 14, had originally been set aside as the first day of spring break, but the nine-member Metro Nashville Board of Education recently voted to turn it into a full school day to make up for lost time due to snow cancellations this winter. The idea was to squeeze one more school day before upcoming TCAP testing.

According to school officials, 1,185 out of 5,000-plus teachers were absent from school Monday, and 16,107 out of 78,000 students were absent.

“It’s pretty disappointing because obviously in a district with so many students on free-and-reduced lunch, plenty of our students aren’t going away for spring break,” Metro schools spokeswoman Meredith Libbey said.

“This is a disappointing level,” she said. “On the other hand, we had more than 60,000 students who had an additional day of instruction.”

Libbey said Metro school principals prior to Monday had been instructed to work with staff to make the most of a potential teacher shortage.

Anticipating the spike in teacher absences, Director of Schools Jesse Register Monday taught English at Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet School.  

15 Comments on this post:

By: criticalthinker on 3/14/11 at 8:07

I wonder. Did MNPS poll the teachers like they polled the parents/students?

By: BigPapa on 3/15/11 at 6:46

So much for all the talk about being professionals. There appears to be a very thin line between teacher and student behavior.

By: treehugger7 on 3/15/11 at 6:48

Here's a thought--don't let kids out in mid May! Keep them in school till early or mid June. My "spring break" consisted of one Thursday and Friday--not a week. Of course that was in a state that valued education, not tennessee.

By: shehane64 on 3/15/11 at 6:50

I don't know whether they polled the teachers, but last minute changes like this could easily throw a wrench in the plans of teachers and the families of students. Non-refundable airfare, hotels and other family plans can often not be changed.

By: gdiafante on 3/15/11 at 6:54

Hmmm...let's see...this was originally the first day of Spring Break, only recently changed to a make up day. I wonder how many of those absent had already scheduled vacations, etc? Seems to me that maybe, just maybe, the BOE should have thought about that.

Treehugger is right...just make up the days in May. Most people schedule their vacations around school holidays. That's a no brainer.

By: Community-carl-... on 3/15/11 at 7:28

It is a shame that the make-up day decision was made at the last minute, but for more than 20% of the teachers to fail to report to work smacks of poor attitude and lack of professionalism that is rampant throughout MNPS at all levels. If this had happened in a private sector business, you had better believe there would more repercussions than a mild expression of disappointment.

Having worked closely with (not for) MNPS for 20 years prior to retirement, I have personally witnessed and experienced the low morale, bad attitudes, and lack of professional leadership on all levels. The MNPS system is an embarrassment to our city. And the succession of directors has been appalling. Most recently, we have gone from a combative slob, who always looked like he slept in his clothes (Garcia), to an overpaid, well dressed buffoon (Register). The entire MNPS system needs to be revamped, top to bottom.

By: PKVol on 3/15/11 at 8:17

I guess the 23.7% of the teachers being absent is an indicationt of the need to do away with the tenure rules as they exist now. The good teachers will still have jobs, and the bad teachers will have to either work doing their current job or look for a job where they are evaluated and retained on an 'at-will' basis.

By: matahari on 3/15/11 at 8:20

@gdiafante the last day for metro students is already june 1 due to the additiional snow days. and i totally agree with you that the boe really didn't consider that their solution might not be the best. i think the school board should have made up the time by adding 30 minutes of instruction to several days instead of making a last minute decision to take away the first day of spring break. a lot of families take that week for vacation and can't change those plans at the last minute. adjusting their schedules by 30 minutes is something that would be the least difficult for the majority of parents and students.
"It's pretty disappointing because obviously in a district with so many students on free-and-reduced lunch, plenty of our students aren’t going away for spring break,” Metro schools spokeswoman Meredith Libbey said.
Really? the students that get reduced and free lunches are probably a small percentage of the ones that were out yesterday, but those parents also have to arrange for alternate daycare, which might have involved arrangements that couldn't be altered this late, or might have incurred penalties that the families, already clearly struggling, couldn't possibly have borne. step outside of your preconceived notions and think about the human beings your decisions affect.

By: cyd88 on 3/15/11 at 8:54

At my school, we only had 1 teacher out (prior commitment) and 105 students. Why aren't you on here bashing the parents that let their children stay home instead of the teachers? My teachers are professionals and I'm proud of them. I know of several teachers that changed their travel plans so they would be there yesterday. If you don't work for or in a Metro school, quit bashing what you don't know anything about. If you truly cared, you would roll up your sleeves and come lend a hand. We would welcome you.

By: matahari on 3/15/11 at 9:24

the bottom line is that it was a bad decision to take the first day of spring break as a snow day.

By: Antisocialite on 3/15/11 at 9:55

For anyone claiming that this is somehow 'proof' that teachers don't act professionally, kindly take a long walk off a short pier. The snow was unpredictable, and the short time period between announcement of the make ups and Spring Break obviously made it hard for roughly 20% of the entire MNPS population to change their schedules.

Community-carl said:
Having worked closely with (not for) MNPS for 20 years prior to retirement, I have personally witnessed and experienced the low morale, bad attitudes, and lack of professional leadership on all levels.

I don't doubt it teaching is a thankless job with mediocre pay (I will not accept any refutation of this based on what people 'think' or what Fox News or any other blatantly partisan source 'says,' hard evidence or GTFO).

Hey you know what would be a great way to bring in more professional teachers with great morale and great attitudes?

Let's neuter the only organization that was able to marginally improve teacher pay and benefits so that wages stagnate, and we can offer teachers less money than other cities and states... that ought to do it! Oh, and while we're at it we can vilify the people who currently hold these jobs so that we can show all those new prospective teachers how much we appreciate their work... man I am on a roll!
/ end sarcasm

All you free market fools, please tell me how reducing pay is supposed to attract better qualified candidates for a job? The prospective employee is in that same free market, and given the opportunity will take a higher paying job the vast majority of the time... that's capitalism folks.

By: gdiafante on 3/15/11 at 10:20

"Let's neuter the only organization that was able to marginally improve teacher pay and benefits so that wages stagnate, and we can offer teachers less money than other cities and states... that ought to do it! Oh, and while we're at it we can vilify the people who currently hold these jobs so that we can show all those new prospective teachers how much we appreciate their work... man I am on a roll!"

Well said, spot on.

By: Community-carl-... on 3/15/11 at 1:52

There are many very fine individuals in the teaching profession, both public and private. But, unfortunately, there is also an unacceptable percentage who perform poorly, are poor role models, and basically just babysit and collect a paycheck....and teachers's unions make it very difficult to weed these incompetent individuals out. Additionally, the teacher's union would have you believe that all teachers are living in poverty, but the reality is that many teachers, especially with a few years of experience, and advanced degrees earn considerably more than a lot of people in the private sector. Most MNPS teachers and administrators enjoy a far better standard of living than most of their students do.

There is a situation developing in the United States where there is an ever widening chasm between the "haves" and the "have-nots." In other words, the middle class is disappearing. Teachers have fared far better than most other middle class wage earners in recent years. It is time for them to stop hiding behind their unions' coat tails, and be held more accountable for their actions and results. No doubt, some dedicated individuals earn every penny of their paychecks, but again, some do not. And the MNPS director of schools earns double the wages of his counterparts in the surrounding counties......when you compare MNPS student achievement to students' achievement in surrounding counties, it is hard to believe that Nashville citizens are getting their money's worth.

By: Antisocialite on 3/15/11 at 3:46

Community-carl said:
there is also an unacceptable percentage who perform poorly, are poor role models, and basically just babysit and collect a paycheck....and teachers's unions make it very difficult to weed these incompetent individuals out.

This is all wildly speculative, I'd wager that you have not independently looked up or verified any of this information. If you have, please link your sources... and please don't insult me by linking Fox News, Breitbart, Drudge, WorldNetDaily, These are very clearly talking points that have been ad nauseum on every conservative news outlet since the Wisconsin protests began Community-carl, and most of it is simply untrue. Tenured teachers can be fired for a number of reasons, and any failure to take action against an incompetent teacher rests squarely on school administrators.

There is a situation developing in the United States where there is an ever widening chasm between the "haves" and the "have-nots." In other words, the middle class is disappearing. Teachers have fared far better than most other middle class wage earners in recent years.

Are you joking?!? It's one thing to acknowledge that there is a growing gap between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' in this country, but to try and lump teachers in with the 'haves' is ludicrous! The top 20% of US earners control 93% of the financial wealth in this country (Edward N. Wolff at New York University 2010), that's people making $100,000 per year, by the way... How many of you earn that much? How many teachers do? In the real world 'class warfare' is going on, and the rich are using the principle of divide and conquer quite well.

Instead of bemoaning how unionized professions have it better, why not try and organize yourself?

By: Community-carl-... on 3/15/11 at 6:49

Antisocialite, you are just as entitled to your opinion as I am entitled to mine. Your very words, " please don't insult me by linking Fox News, Breitbart, Drudge, WorldNetDaily" to support my opinion just indicates to me that you simply gloss over authoritative sources when they are in conflict with your opinions. As I said earlier, I worked with (not for) the MNPS system for 20 years, and my opinion has been systematically formed over all these years as I observed, and was subjected to, much mismanagement and dysfunction from ALL levels of the MNPS heirarchy.

The unions have served their purpose in years past, and I respect that, but in recent years, the unions seem to be more interested in self perpetuation and obtaining unreasonable benefits and pay scales. Often times, the unions eventually cause private companies to become unviable financially, by having to price their products or services out of the competing market, and finally bankrupting. (Then employees end up with NO job. Ask yourself why most manufacturing jobs have gone overseas....excessive union demands played a big part.....end result: high unemployment.) Government employee unions simply end up causing financial problems for all levels of government, which ultimately get passed on to the already overtaxed wage earners, to the great detriment of all citizens of the U.S.

Yes, I am a conservative, and I am proud of it. This country is bankrupted, morally and financially. It is time for everybody to examine their prioities, try to lead a productive life, make a positive contribution to society, and stop being so greedy.
People certainly deserve just rewards for honest efforts, but the rich keep getting richer, and the poor have very little motivation to improve their life situations, and often end up being enslaved by excessive entitlement programs currently in place.
Meanwhile, the shrinking and struggling middle class keeps having to bear more and more of the financial burden to support our society.

It is my great fear that the future for my grandchildren is very bleak if the United States continues on its present course. It is time for EVERYBODY to sacrifice and pull together to stabilze the US financially. (and I am mean EVERYBODY from individuals to big corporations.) Special and priviliged interest groups need to realize that the greater good of ALL citizens is more important than their own self-serving interests. If the whole United States collapses, all the special interests groups' demands will be moot points.

May God help us all.