Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lower Wages, Less Experience—Charter Schools' Recipe for Success

By now most of the public ought to be aware that charter schools receive public money, like traditional public schools, but are freed from many of the rules that traditional schools must follow, including the hiring of unionized teachers and paying union wages. Many charter schools also ignore seniority and hire predominantly young, malleable and lower waged novices. These are just some of the labor cost cutting strategies that allow for-profit charters to turn a profit.

A new study by Bruce Baker, at School Finance 101, does an in-depth comparison of wages and years of experience at several Texas and New Jersey charter and traditional public schools, focusing on the Gulen schools, which rely heavily on teachers from Turkey who are here on work visas.

When pressed, Gulen leaders have said that there simply aren’t enough qualified local teachers to fill the slots.

In the past, there truly was a teacher shortage in the U.S. However, with all the state budget cuts and resulting teacher layoffs, there is actually a glut of teachers, (but a shortage of student services, as class sizes mushroom, course offerings are cut, and librarians, counselors and nurses are sacked). What Baker proposes with Gulen is that it is their extremely low wages that prevents them from finding sufficient local teachers.

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