Although teachers’ employment contracts include language about their leave privileges, states typically set a floor for how generous local privileges must be. The statutory minimum in Ohio, for example, is 15 days for personal illness and three days for personal necessity. The analogous values in Washington are 10 days and two days. Thus, teachers in Ohio can take 50 percent more paid leave than teachers in Washington. Should this be the case?
Answering this question should be a priority, but serious tampering with the relevant statutes may be premature. For instance, it is not known how a change in leave provisions may affect the supply of new teaching candidates. Legislatures could, however, lay the groundwork for the research necessary to inform changes. The key obstacle to conducting such research is the availability of appropriate data. Clearly, the same infrastructure that would support a federal requirement for teacher absence information on school report cards could also facilitate research on the costs and benefits of changing statutory floors on leave provisions or other state-driven policies around teacher absence.
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