Some of Us Are Chronically Absent

NC Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission meets this week and they’ll hear a report about chronically absent teachers. 

For the purpose of the research, teachers in North Carolina who used 10 or more non-consecutive sick days in an academic year as “chronically absent”.  that seems fair, since those of us who suddenly get sick for a week or so are not counted.
Guess what? 22.6% of all teachers met this definition in 2016-2017. That’s 22,121 teachers.
That’s kind of a lot.
It’s hard to see, but the greatest number of chronically absent teachers is in schools which earned poor grades overall. Schools where chronic absenteeism is rare are scoring better.
So are the schools failing because teachers are calling out? Or are teachers calling out because they work at a failing school?

Were You Taught by Stephen Shipps at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts?

Update: I just spoke to Mort Meisner, who is a public relations person for Steven Shipps.

Shipps has no comment on the student newspaper story.  Zero.

Update #2:

Deadline reports that Shipps is on leave from his job as chairman of the stringed instrument instruction and stepped down as director of the Strings Preparatory Academy, a university-affiliated academy is for local middle and high school musicians.


Original post:

The student-run newspaper at the University of Michigan is running an article accusing a University of Michigan professor with sexual misconduct.

A Michigan Daily investigation unearthed previously undisclosed allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct against Shipps. These reports span nearly 40 years, from Fall 1978 to a University-affiliated summer program in the last five years.

The music professor and future dean at Michigan taught at UNC from 1980 to 1989.

Shipps taught at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts — known then as the North Carolina School of the Arts before a 2008 name change — prior to coming to the University of Michigan. The Daily spoke with a former North Carolina School of the Arts college student, who wished to remain anonymous, citing professional and privacy concerns. She currently serves as the associate principal second (the second-ranked member of the second violin section) in a full-time professional orchestra. In this article, she will be referred to as Meghan.

You can read the accusations here.  The allegations are not ambiguous. They involve unwanted touching and kissing.

According to her account, as she walked into Shipps’s studio that evening, the lights were dimmed. After she put down her violin, she says Shipps moved behind her and locked the door to his office.

It goes on.  I prefer not to go farther here.

The authors say they’ve interviewed numerous victims. Most are anonymous sources or pseudonymous sources.

Though many of the women in this article have gone on to achieve great career success, they described their interactions with Shipps as having forever changed their views on student-teacher interaction and their perception of the larger professional music community.

Maureen O’Boyle, for example, currently teaches violin at the University of Tulsa, where she is an associate professor of music. She described her experiences with Shipps as having affected her to this day, both in her private instruction and in her general interaction with students.

I’ve sent an email to the professor Monday, but have not heard back.

The author paints a picture of an entire profession in which there is a massive power imbalance: Professors and deans serve as judges of talent at competitions, and can affect a young person’s career in major ways.

I’m getting sick of these stories.  I established a few Google Alerts to feed me ideas for the blog. “Reading teacher” gets me a few articles a day.  The Google Alert “teacher rape” always delivers 5-8 articles, every day, world wide.


Quote of the Day

“The problem is, if you look at 2015-16, this story is exactly the same. This is an insidious cycle that these districts are in,” said Tomberlin. “They’re constantly losing their experienced teachers, unable to replace them with experienced teachers from other districts, and having to replace them with brand new, ineffective teachers.” — Dr. Tom Tomberlin, the director of district human resources for the NC DPI, quoted here.


One Day You Are Teaching and the Next…

You’re cutting hair. (Update below)



Dec. 9 (UPI) — A California woman has been removed from teaching and faces criminal charges after forcibly cutting a student’s hair while she sang the wrong words in the National Anthem.

Margaret Gieszinger, 52, taught at University Preparatory High School in Visalia until cellphone video of the incident emerged on Reddit on Wednesday. She faces criminal misdemeanor charges of false imprisonment, two counts of cruelty to a child, two counts of battery and one count of assault.

School District Apologizes For Teacher Who Allegedly Cut Native American Child’s Hair

According to the ACLU, Eastin asked the student if she liked her braids. When the student said she did, the teacher picked up a pair of scissors and cut off about three inches of the student’s hair.

Well, The Good News Is…I Got My First Comment

The bad news? It was this:

Truly is no better strategy market weblog than to get commenting.
The success of your article really depends on your headline (title).

Not all pages upon your website have same page authority.

I have to admit, after reading 4th grader’s essays for about an hour…I didn’t actually find that comment to be poorly written at all.

But then not all of the pages upon my website have the same authority.

Are We Focusing Too Much on Teaching Everybody?

I teach academically, behaviorally and emotionally troubled kids. I prefer to teach the students who have two strikes against them. On the other hand, are we doing enough for children on the other end of the spectrum?

Conservative website The American Spectator laments…

The United States is in the midst of an educational crisis. Test scores are plummeting, education spending is unsustainable, and the vast majority of American students are ill-prepared to thrive in the high-tech workplace of the future.

Given this sorry state of affairs, the question arises: How did the American education system, once the envy of the world, fall into such a decrepit state? Like most things in life, the answer is actually quite simple: The United States education system no longer prizes and cultivates its most talented students, and the American education system has become a bloated, bureaucratic leviathan that misallocates resources at a colossal level.

The article focuses on the idea that education does not encourage the brightest children to excel, but promotes mediocrity.  In North Carolina there are AIG programs for the gifted. In some cases, I’m sure the gifted students get exactly the high-le4vel work they need.

My favorite year of teaching was when the principle accidentally added four advanced students to my 4th grade class. I say accidentally because since I also have an EC certification, I otherwise had a large number of kids with IEP’s in my class.  Another teacher with AIG certification had the advanced kids, and a third teacher with some Spanish language ability was assigned nearly  every single Hispanic kid. The other teacher actually called that class the barrio.

No, I didn’t approve.

After a few months of seeing the advanced kids politely wait while their peers struggled in the basic subjects, I made them a deal: They could research any topic they wanted so long as they wrote excellent papers about the research. They looked at the EOG Math sample questions and identified the areas where they needed help. They still had to complete the normal homework, but I’d let them answer fewer questions if they were involved in something else academically. [Does anyone really need to do 22 multiplication problems?] They could quietly “drop out” of math and writing lessons which didn’t meet their needs.

All four scored well on the EOG tests: One student scored that rare 5 on the Math EOG. Every one else from that group scored a four on both tests. They learned stuff, also. Their writing improved.

I had more time for the kids who needed it, and those who didn’t need much help were especially inspired. As it turned out, one of the group had never really shown great promise to other teachers.  Apparently I  helped him click a switch.

Enough of my bragging.

The Davidson Institute illustrates this quandary, observing, “In examining the effects of highstakes testing on classroom practices, the majority of the articles reported its negative influences with teachers focusing on underachievers and providing low-quality education for gifted and talented students.” While several developing nations, such as China and India are identifying and nurturing their most intellectually gifted students, the United States is doing the opposite. Unfortunately, this may backfire if China’s best-and-brightest eventually outshine America’s meager-and-mediocre.

I don’t agree with much of the article, but I am always concerned about meeting the needs of all students. When we try to teach everyone, do we risk under-teaching the brightest students?