Nov. 2014 Letter from the editor

By Samantha Wilcox

Originally published on November 4, 2014

Dear readers of The Lowell,

As many of you may have seen, we mistakenly published a story that was titled “The average SFUSD teacher is absent more than the average student” in our on Oct. 31 print edition. Usually, when a story does not have a byline, it is considered an editorial, which represents the opinion of the entire staff. However, this was a personal opinion written by me. I have heard reactions of anger about the fairness and quality of information, curiosity about the issue, and frustration that editors inserted a disclaimer instead of standing by the article.

The main source for this opinion was an Aug. 19 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, “S.F. teachers miss more school than students on average.” This article said that SFUSD teachers are absent an average of 11 days per year, while students are absent an average of 6 days per year. As the editor of the Opinions and Editorials section, I found this issue of teacher absences worth researching, as it is of interest to the Lowell student body and larger community. The rough draft, which was mistakenly published, does not tell the entire story of teacher absences because it uses the Chronicle article as its only source.

  • The author of the article seems to assume that the 2012–13 statistics based on a study conducted by the National Council on Teaching Quality will remain static, and consequently projected a number of average absences for this year.
  • Teachers are contractually given 10 absences per year, and SFUSD allows teachers to self-report a reason for their absence.

The data provided by the Chronicle included professional development days, which are days taken by teachers for work purposes. In order to bring the most accurate data to The Lowell’s readers, I am in the process of researching information more specific to Lowell, and how we could find potential solutions. We are also investigating how this preliminary draft got published, so that mistakes like this will be avoided in the future.

Samantha Wilcox