Blaming Kids Like Me for 20 Sick Days a Year in Hartford Public Schools

It seems the local teachers union in Hartford, Connecticut, resents outside experts from the National Council on Teacher Quality looking at the effect their collective bargaining contract has on school performance and student learning. One issue in particular made me chuckle.

From the Hartford Courant:

[Hartford Federation of Teachers president Andrea] Johnson also disliked the recommendation that Hartford teachers be given fewer sick days. According to the report, many large districts and most business-sector jobs have an average of 10 sick days a year, while a Hartford teacher gets 20. On average, Hartford teachers use 11 of the 20 sick days each year, according to the report. If all the allotted sick and personal time (an additional five days) was taken, teachers would miss 14 percent of the school year, the report says.

Johnson said that working with children every day requires more sick time because teachers are more susceptible to catching illnesses from the students and also passing along an illness to a room full of children.

*Cough, cough.*

(Okay, so I’m not really sick … don’t get all worried about the swine flu)

Go ahead, and blame it all on little germ factories like me. But 20 sick days per (9-month) year? For those who work a 12-month year, that is like 27 days — more than 5 full work weeks! That seems a little bit excessive, unless there are signs of the plague traveling up the Eastern seaboard.

Apparently, we’re somewhat healthier here in Colorado. My Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow looked at a few local bargaining agreements and found the following number of sick and discretionary (personal) leave days:

  • Denver: 14
  • Pueblo 60: 13
  • Jefferson County: 11
  • Colorado Springs 11: 11
  • Greeley: 8

Most of them are over the average of 10 cited in the story, but nowhere near the 20 in Hartford.

Sadly, Hartford only wins runner-up for teachers union silliness of the week. Teachers in Connecticut’s largest city may or may not be good at their jobs, but they get 20 days off a year. However, Detroit teachers have to worry about losing their job and their sick days if they can’t pay union dues.

Somehow, with a straight face, they keep telling us it’s all for the children. *Cough, cough*