A staggering 10,553 Clark County School District teachers were “chronically absent” during the 2015-2016 school year, according to just-released data from the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
Absent for at least 11 school days throughout the year, these 10,553 chronically absent teachers accounted for 59 percent of CCSD’s total full-time teaching staff in 2016 — a rate that was more than triple the 19 percent of chronically absent teachers found at the median school district nationwide.
Because academic research has found a significant reduction in student learning when teachers are absent for more than 10 days of the school year, there has been an increased focus among policymakers and academics to better understand, and hopefully fix, this problem.
In 2017, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found that teachers in public schools were almost three times as likely to be chronically absent as teachers in charter schools nationwide.
That analysis found that things were even worse in Nevada, with public school teachers being more than seven times as likely to be chronically absent than teachers in charter schools — the highest disparity of any state in the nation.
That disparity demonstrates the important role school choice programs can play in addressing educational issues that Nevada’s public schools have been unable — or unwilling — to tackle in the past.
“Students deserve — and need — their teacher to be in the classroom. It is simply unacceptable that nearly 60 percent of CCSD teachers are absent for 11 or more days of regular, classroom instruction,” explained Nevada Policy Research Institute Communications Director Michael Schaus.
“The dramatic difference between the levels of chronic teacher absenteeism at Nevada’s charter schools and public schools reaffirms the importance of introducing choice and competition into the public school monopoly.
“Instead of waiting for CCSD to finally fix this problem — keeping thousands of children captive to a failed system in the meantime — the Legislature should embrace the proven solution of school choice, which already enjoys widespread, bipartisan support among Nevada voters.
“Even the limited options already offered to parents — like Nevada’s charter schools and the state’s Opportunity Tax Scholarships — have shown tremendous promise. The Legislature needs to heed the call of frustrated Nevadans and expand on these successes by promoting charter schools, funding ESAs and expanding the state’s Tax Scholarship program.
“Doing so would finally put quality educational options within the reach of every Nevada family.”
To learn more about how choice and competition can help empower all Nevadans with access to a quality education, please visit NPRI.ORG.