New Report Shows Charter School Teachers Are Chronically Absent Half as Often as Traditional Public School Teachers

LANSING, Michigan – A new report out today from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute shows that charter schools teachers in Michigan are twice less likely to be chronically absent from work compared to traditional public school teachers. 

In the report, the Fordham Institute looked at teacher chronic absenteeism rates in charter and traditional public schools—that is, the percentage of teachers who miss at least 11 days of school, excluding holidays, school vacations, professional development days and field trips.

Nationally, teachers in traditional public schools are almost three times as likely to be chronically absent as teachers in charter schools: 28.3 percent versus 10.3 percent. In Michigan, the rates were 24.7 percent for traditional public school teachers, compared to 12.4 percent for charter school teachers.

Dan Quisenberry, President of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA), said the results of the report are significant.

“This absolutely speaks to the professionalism of charter school teachers,” Quisenberry said. “We know that teaching is an extremely rewarding profession, and yet teachers are under a lot of stress and pressure. Particularly in high-poverty areas, students are bringing a lot of their life challenges into the classroom. This report shows that charter school teachers are able to balance what they need as individuals with the needs of their students. Charter school teachers are in front of their students more, and that certainly helps explain the academic gains we’re seeing in charter schools. This is no coincidence.”

Quisenberry also took great issue with comments from a Michigan teachers union spokesperson in response to the report. Doug Pratt, spokesperson for the Michigan Education Association, tried to explain away the report’s findings by making the unfounded claim that charter school teachers are forced to show up to work sick.

Quoted in the Detroit Free Press, Pratt said, “It comes down to a question of do you want sick teachers in front of kids?” Pratt offered no evidence whatsoever to back up that claim.

“Doug Pratt and the MEA should be ashamed of themselves for that unfounded, irresponsible allegation,” Quisenberry said. “Charter school teachers don’t need to be told when to show up to work and when to stay home. They’re professionals, and they’re going to do what’s right for themselves and for their students. He owes an apology to every charter school teacher in the state.”