NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Market-Oriented Approach Could Improve Teaching Pool

November 20, 2001

Raising the quality of the nation's teachers has become a priority that cuts across partisan lines. Driven by teacher shortages in certain subjects -- such as math, science and special education -- and in rural and inner-city schools, state legislatures have earmarked billions of dollars for salary increases and teacher training.

What is strange about the drive to "professionalize" teaching is that it has taken place largely within the confines of the existing public school system. Little attention has been paid regarding how parental choice and competition, in the form of vouchers and charter schools, will affect the profession.

In a new report titled, "Changing the Profession: How would school choice affect teachers?" author Caroline M. Hoxby argues that school choice would raise demand for highly talented and skilled teachers who would receive rewards closely linked to their performance.

Some of the results of the study show that schools, when facing tougher competition:

  • Have greater demand for teachers who attended well-regarded colleges, majored in particular subject areas (especially in math and science), and who put in more effort and show more independence.
  • Are more likely to hire such teachers and to pay them higher wages than they would earn in schools that face less competition.
  • In general, have less demand for certification and master's degrees.
  • Pay teachers who hold such credentials less than similarly educated teachers earn in schools that are less choice-driven.

Hoxby also says that by making teaching a more market-oriented profession, school choice might also make it a more attractive career.

Other findings include:

  • Charter and private schools are more likely to hire teachers from selective colleges. The percentage of teachers from "Competitive Plus" colleges: charter schools 36 percent; private schools 36 percent; and public schools 20 percent.
  • Charter and private schools are more likely to hire teachers who majored in a field of the arts and sciences (as opposed to education.) Percentage of teachers majoring in a subject: charter schools 56 percent; private schools 42 percent; and public schools 37 percent.
  • Public schools are more likely to hire teachers who have master's degrees. Percentage of teachers with master's degrees: charter schools 41 percent; private schools 28 percent; and public schools 44 percent.
  • Public schools are more likely to hire teachers who are certified in their teaching area. Percentage of teachers certified in their teaching area: charter schools 83 percent; private schools 54 percent; and public schools 97 percent.

Source: Caroline M. Hoxby, "Changing the Profession: How would school choice affect teachers?" Education Matters, Spring 2001.

 

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