Share This Page

Not just student absenteeism I

| Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, 7:34 p.m.

Wow! Another news story condemning teachers: “Do teachers' absences affect student learning?” (Dec. 30 and TribLIVE.com). Well, duh, I guess so — but not as much as student absences do.

When I taught at Brashear High School, absenteeism was commonplace, tardiness through the roof. So many kids come late that Brashear takes homeroom attendance between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., the lunch hours, to ensure higher attendance for the day because Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) receives additional federal dollars for higher attendance rates.

Student absenteeism is so bad that PPS policy is to “give” an automatic 50-percent grade regardless of attendance. The rationale is that too many students were failing due to stricter attendance policies and not graduating because they did not meet state attendance requirements.

So, we want students to understand that it's OK to miss as many days of school as they want, without repercussion, but their teachers should not miss school, especially on days when habitual absentees show up?

What PPS students learn is what Walter Williams alludes to in his column “100 percent of nothing” (Dec. 23 and TribLIVE.com): “... the relevant question is whether some control of something is better than 100 percent control of nothing.” These young, out-of-control students are being educated in the new American way: how to beat the system.

Instead of promoting individual responsibility, PPS attendance policies enable more young people to grow up even more irresponsibly. In the words of Swiss philosopher Henri Amiel: “There is no curing a sick man who believes himself to be in health.”

Nicholas Evanish

South Park

The writer is a retired Pittsburgh Public Schools teacher.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.