Teachers Don’t Show Up – Is That A Good or Bad Thing?

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Usually, when I watch a movie or TV show, I recognize that moment in the tale when things have gone right for the hero.  You know, that instant when good triumphs?  When evil is vanquished?  When someone gets the cat down from the tree and all is right with the world?

Of course, this presumes a clear cut hero, and a rather (sorry, my fellow authors) simplistic story to tell.  So in the story I’m about to tell, I’ll try to keep things simple.  In my tale, students in public schools are the beleaguered heroes.   After all…they show up.  And the bad guys.  Well, you know where this is going, right?  Teachers are the bad guys.  (My story mirrors life perfectly.)

A friend of mine, Russ, sent me a news clip with info from a former Wall Street Journal reporter, June Kronholz.  In it, she stated that 1 in 20 teachers are absent, every day of the school year, on average, across the nation.  In some school districts, such as Camden, RI, up to 40% do not show up to work each day.  Bolstered by their insane, voracious unions, these “teachers” take every possible off-day and then some.  Imagine a school where each day, four out of ten teachers are subs.  Or better yet, go to Camden and just take a look.

This costs taxpayers additional BILLIONS of dollars (teachers get paid even when absent – their unions have seen to that), and arguably creates havoc for schools and kids. (Should I say “more havoc? But, well, you know, as the teachers of Chicago cried when they were on strike to get their pay up to a level over three times that of the average working Joe in Chicago…it’s all for the kids.


So the teachers are bad guys. (Bad girls too, I’m afraid.)  But which teachers?  Certainly they are bad teachers who, at a time when the nation is truly struggling with finances,  take advantage of perks other professions can only dream of…during their annual nine months of labor…that’s right, they only work 3/4 of the year, so I can understand why they need all that extra time off. And their average workday is, well, shorter than most employees in other professions, a fact their unions made happen and which they proudly brag about.  So, those teachers need their beauty rest.  (Some of them take days off to do important things, like,you know, renew driver’s licenses that can be renewed in the mail, and that sort of thing.)  How this helps and serves children?  Don’t ask me.  As a single dad who homeschooled 10 kids in my house for years (only two were mine), I can tell you flat out- I didn’t get days off.  I still don’t.  And there is no sub who can step in for me, damn the luck.  My days, including getting my own work done, were (and are) closer to 12-16 hours of work per, seven days a week.  And the pay is poor.  But then, well, dads don’t have a union, do we.

But what about the public school subs?  There are some 3 million teachers in the United States.  That means, at best, some 250,000-300,000 are out EVERY DAY.  That calls for a lot of substitutes.  Are the subs heroes, like the kids?  Ummm….

Now, when my favorite basketball team, the Lakers, blows out another team (not that often this year, but it still happens…), they pull out their exceptional starters and replace them with subs off the bench to finish the game.  That’s because they’re winning by so much, they want to protect those stellar and expensive players from pointless injury and exhaustion.  I get that!  I would do it, too!  In come the second-stringers, talented in their own right, but they aren’t starters.

But with teachers, well…they’re not stellar (though they are expensive), and they’re not winning anything.

No blow-outs for our public school teachers, nope.  They’re failing our kids, and doing so grandly.  Read other articles here and you’ll see what I mean.  Plummeting test scores, embarrassing and disastrous national drop-out rates, rampant unemployment for “grads” who have no employable skills, sexual and other abuses against students that should make a concerned parent or citizen seek for jail time for “teachers” taking advantage of the most vulnerable among us.  Nope, the teachers are losing BIG. Except for their unions, who continue to secure outrageous pay and abusive rights for people that really need to be unemployed.  (Exceptional teachers will find teaching work in the private sector.  There are a few.)  Their schools need to be closed.  Our “teachers” need to be introduced to the kind of jobs they are training their students to fill, you know, like at McDonalds.  I hear that Denny’s is hiring.  And Walmart is the world’s largest employer, right!

Teachers not showing up to work is a global epidemic.  Read James Tooley’s marvelous book, The Beautiful Tree, and you’ll discover this is so at outrageous levels throughout Africa, India, and in other parts of the world.  Who picks up the slack in such places?  Well, if the school is a state-run school, usually the kids babysit themselves, according to Mr. Tooley.  And say what you like, he saw what he saw.

Teachers the world over clearly feel entitled. (Read some of the communications I’ve received from teachers, like the one who whined about “show me the m0ney,” and being underpaid – and, and who didn’t even think to put out the lie that “it’s all for the kids” until the last sentence.)  Given teacher’s hideous track record, one can only gape in wonder at what on earth makes them feel they should be entitled as a group to do anything but clean the latrines.

So absenteeism creates a gap for even more teachers, a sub-class we call “substitutes.”  That means, well, more jobs for teachers!  More members for teacher unions!  The unions love this set-up, and why not?  They helped create it.

Some common sense in an area sorely lacking:  Yes, we need more employment in the U.S. now, not less.  So arguing firing all teachers and closing schools might seem counter-productive.  After all, 3 million teachers PLUS administrators (well-paid), plus staff… lot of jobs.  But while pundits love to point fingers and play politics in America, and blame everything but the actual root cause of our struggles today, there IS  a root cause to America’s social and financial woes.  It is our utterly destructive, failed educational system, and the people who support it.

What are students trained to DO, exactly, by this system?  When are they encouraged by a cookie-cutter brainless approach to education to become unique, skilled, even productive?  A public school student simply doesn’t hit these heights , not unless self-motivated to do so.  And a self-motivated student does not need public school.  History is absolutely awash with examples of self-educated or homeschooled genius.  The United States was formed by such men.

Our educational system is a disease with many symptoms.   One of those symptoms is a lack of new invention and ideas in America, as we lose ground to other countries doing it better.  Well, invention is a by-product of education.  Declining living standards for the majority is another symptom of the disease, as is increased functional illiteracy.  A lack of production is another symptom of the disease that is public schooling today.  And so, then, would be our national debt, in many regards.  After all, the more productive the nation and its people, the more income is made, the broader the tax base.

If you ignored all of this, AT LEAST PAY ATTENTION TO THIS PARAGRAPH.  Why should students ever learn to produce when their “role models”, their teachers, never have to?  Public school teachers are not held to ANY standard, even a moral standard!  Their failure is rewarded with high pay and amazing perks.  Even abusive teachers are protected to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal support by teacher unions.  School districts will generally do nothing to an 0ffending teacher or administrator other than move them to another school.  The districts can’t afford the litigation.  They can’t afford to take on the teacher unions.  Teachers even cheat to up their pay, as 170 or so Atlanta teachers did last year in altering student test scores to make it appear students were doing better than they were – and to secure bonus pay.

WHAT EXACTLY SHOULD A STUDENT LEARN FROM THESE EXAMPLES???  I guess, get into a strong union and any crime or failure or inefficiency is acceptable.

So, in steps the sub – another “trained and qualified” teacher- who knows the kids in that classroom, well, not at all.  Not a clue.  The sub is just tossed into the room and expected to teach something.  Of course, the sub has no idea what has already been taught or not taught.  A sub is really and famously just a well-paid babysitter.  And as Tooley has demonstrated, in some other countries, when the teacher does not show (as is very regular), the kids can go out in the playground and babysit themselves.  And they do.

So who really needs subs?  Who benefits from teacher absenteeism?  Not our heroes, the kids.  They do not benefit.  Though it might be argued that, given how badly education is done by public schools, the kids might well do better without their teachers.  (I would certainly argue this point, so long as the kids form homeschool groups and get on with the business of their lives.)  Do families and taxpayers benefit from this arrangement?  Clearly not.

Nope, the beneficiaries are teachers and their unions, period.  More time off for teachers.  More members for teacher unions.  More money pointlessly tossed out the window by tax payers, without any good results to show for it.

I once saw a video of a sub sleeping in the classroom as his class watched.  Why not?  He would not have gotten anything done with his eyes open.  And he gets paid, either way.  Just like the teacher he replaced.

4 comments on “Teachers Don’t Show Up – Is That A Good or Bad Thing?”

  1. Russ Person says:


    You certainly can take a ball and run with it. Brilliant analogy comparing teachers and basketball players. I really do believe that the key to changing all of this is parents who DEMAND an excellent education for their children. The establishment is way to big to change, with their contracts and their entrenched methodology. No one will ever care about our children as much as we do. VIVA LA HOME-SCHOOL REVOLUCION!

  2. Thanks, Russ. I’m marching in that parade. Yes, parents must demand an excellent education for their children. Schools not only DO no provide, they CAN not provide. The methods used don’t work, and they won’t change. So, in demanding an excellent education for our children, who are we demanding that FROM WHO? Schools can’t do it. That leaves us, folks, families, and private institutions that can discard the business-as-usual approach to education that is killing our future.

  3. I take real offence to this Article,
    I have been subbing for 20 years, my background is in Engineering, and I have a Master’s Degree in Management.
    I have worked some extremely difficult assignments; and am used to adapting on the run from being an Air Force Veteran.
    I have had former students go on to become Teachers and other Professionals. When I see former students they say Hey, you were my Teacher not my Substitute.
    Just because you have a bunch of Academic Credentials does not make you a good Teacher. How you impact kids lives and motivate them is far more important……………

  4. Oh, well, you take offense. Woe is me. Of course, you’ve a job to protect, and so I guess that you’d better take ofense to anything attacking the failed system you’ve elected, strangely, to defend.

    You are right about a few points, and I’m curious why you present them, as they do so much harm to your argument. You’re right – in this discussion, academic credentials mean nothing – less than nothing, in fact – they are proof of a person trained in methods and a system that has ruinously failed children and families. (I have none, by the way.) You’re right, how you impact students is far more important than any credential. (I help thousands of students every day, by the way.) On these points, oddly, we fully agree. And to these points, your degree means less than nothing in this discussion. So why bring up your degree as if it in some way legitimizes you, and then shoot yourself in the head by pointing out the uselessness of degrees?

    Yay for your former students having lives, except for the teachers. Boo to the teachers. They should find an honest way to make a living. So should you. Just so you know, your support of this system offends ME. There you have it, chum.

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