Mamie Till Mobley

"There was an important mission for me, to shape so many...young minds as a teacher. God took away one child but...(gave) me thousands. And I have been grateful for the blessing." Mamie Till Mobley

Friday, October 12, 2012

Absenteeism a pervasive problem says distinguished educator Judy Elliot

• Student absenteeism is a pervasive problem that requires a multi-agency effort at the city and county levels to effectively address it.

This is what distinguished educator, Dr. Judy Elliot wrote in her report to Commissioner John B. King at the NY S Education Department in Albany as part of her review of the 28 priority schools she oversees in the Buffalo City School District after she had a few telephone conversations and had spoken to  some district office officials  and community leaders.

Elliot who resides in Florida appointment as a consultant  back in August was contentious as board members argued the merit of her role as a distinguished educator.

And there was  concern about who picked up the tab for her work as a consultant at fees many viewed as exorbitant in a cash strapped district.

The district had studied the absenteeism problem hired a consultant last year, while the Buffalo Teachers Federation issued its own report on the problem.

As a result of these efforts,  the district recalled attendance officers laid off in 2005, after a dispute on the single carrier insurance with the teachers union.

This issue  not only became embroiled in the courts for three years, but   the attendance officers continued laid off for six years from September 2005 through August 2011.

So, the Buffalo Board of Education voted to abolish the positions of 15 attendance officers left only two to serve over 35, 000 students.

This absence of attendance officers in the Buffalo Schools over a six year period is correlated to the absenteeism problem.

So if  students had no one to compell them to  attend school for six years, this caused the high absenteeism problem in the district today.

While 15 attendance officers had been laid off in 2005, only 6 were recalled and two newly hired for a total of eight teachers.  Four were recalled in 2004, funded through the SIG grants in the four high schools labeled persistently failing.

Still, there are 28 priority schools and eight attendance officers not enough to provide adequate coverage for these schools. Unless more attendance officers hired, the absenteeism will not only persist, but  the academic failure of children.

Dr. Elliot should read the reports both the district through the consultant it hired Hedge Chang wrote in 2011 and the BTF study on absenteeism to address the issue.

The first step is to hire additional attendance officers, especially in the 28 schools Elliot oversees in addition to the "multi-agency" efforts she had recommended in her report. And it's not only the leadership in central office that has to be scrutinized, but the appropriateness of the district wide leadership currently in place.

Elliot should also review all the reports the district commissioned in the last ten years collecting dust on a central office shelf to better assist her to understand the problems. Also, recommend Super Pamela Brown study the reports as well costing the district thousands of dollars yet collecting dust in City Hall.

It may be that it's not the centralized decision making in City Hall, but the overall quality of this leadership district wide leaders put in positions as one board member had been quoted in the local media ..."highly paid, but don't know what they are doing."

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Whitney Tilson (3rd background)

Whitney Tilson (3rd background)
"Let’s be honest: we need a lot more well-off, well-educated white folks with a personal stake in both charter schools and education reform in general if we’re going to take reform to the next level, both politically and operationally.Whitney Tilson, hedge fund manager and major funding angel for the school privatizing Democrats for Education Reform, thinks there’s not enough rich, educated white folks.( Preaprez) click photo to his blog.

Arne Duncan

Arne Duncan
U.S. Secretary of Education, click photo