NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

School Choice Creates Demand for High-Caliber Teachers

September 18, 2001

School choice would have some notable benefits for the teaching profession. It would raise the demand for teachers with select skills -- teachers with a high caliber college education, with better math and science skills, with a high degree of independence, and those who put forth extra effort.

Certainly, school choice would result in some losers: the less skilled and motivated would find less demand for their services. Historically, teachers' organizations such as the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have opposed school choice.

According to researchers:

  • Public school teachers who graduate from very competitive colleges are paid 3.1 percent more than their colleagues, while charter school teachers from the same colleges are paid 6.6 percent more than their colleagues.
  • Charter schools also demand more teachers who have majored in math and science: in the public schools, math and science majors are paid about 4.4 percent more, but in charter schools they are paid about 8.4 percent more than their colleagues.
  • In salaries, the average public school teacher earns $34,690; the average charter school teacher $32,070; and the average private school teacher $21,286.

Currently, skilled teachers are more likely to leave the profession early. Within a district, teachers with similar seniority and the highest level of college degrees are likely to receive roughly similar wages, but schools that face greater school choice retain skilled teachers longer. The research suggests that school choice could change the teaching profession in a way that many potential, and even established, teachers would like.

Source: Marie A. Bussing-Burks, "School Choice Raises Demand for Teachers with Select Characteristics," NBER Digest, January 2001; based on Caroline Hoxby, "Would School Choice Change the Teaching Profession?" NBER Working Paper No. 7866, National Bureau of Economic Research.

For NBER text


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