An official at the United States Department of Education told the present writer that one of the main problems in American education is that once a superintendent or chancellor leaves power that many of the changes or reforms that were put into place are thrown out. In other words the changes only exists as long as the administration is in power.
The number one problem facing the District of Columbia Public Schools in 2001 was teacher absenteeism. The problem was so acute that in some cases teachers were absent for an entire school year. Protections by the teacher union made it very difficult to fire a teacher for being absent. All of this changed in 2006 when Michelle Rhee became the Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools.
Rhee was adamant about teacher attendance and she made it a priority to get teachers to come to work every day. This was good for students because no substitute teacher can replace the value of having a regular teacher present every school day. Rhee gave principals the power to fire teachers for excessive absences.
When not writing the present writer has helped District of Columbia students as a substitute teacher since retiring from Howard University on August 22, 2000. The demand for teachers to report to work every single day had a tremendous impact on the need for substitute teachers in the District. In 2006, before Rhee, substitute teachers were called every day to replace absent teachers. After Rhee became chancellor the calls for long time substitute teachers fell dramatically.
This is good for students. After 13 years of working as a substitute teacher the writer has recorded the performance of students with and without their regular teacher present. Students always perform better when their regular teacher is present. There will always be a need for substitute teachers when a serious medical problem or accident prevents a regular teacher from being present.
Better teacher attendance was one of the positive improvements in 2013.
The present writer has served as a substitute teacher in the District for 13 years. In 2005-2006 he was called to substitute for 186 days which was the entire year school. The need for substitutes decreased dramatically in 2013. Test scores in the District increased in 2013. Teachers worked hard to improve scores and attendance.