Work Harder, Get Paid Less

Good education comes from happy teachers.

It seems like a California cheese commercial, but instead of cheese and cows, its education and teachers.  Let me preface the remainder of this post with this statement: Charter schools are not the savior of education.  They are still riddled with problems and, while better than surrounding districts, still return rather pathetic results on standardized tests.  However, the freedoms given to charter schools and their employees are having a wide range of effects, one of which is saving money.

To cut costs some charters are practicing teacher leadership.  In essence, charter schools hire fewer than normal administrators and distribute leadership responsibilities among the teaching staff instead. As a result teachers are more involved in decisions about curriculum and school policy.

While money is being saved by hiring fewer administrators, money is also being saved with lower teacher salaries.  While charter teacher-leaders have more responsibilities than a normal educator, they are paid less than the average public school teacher.

Humans respond to intensives.  Economics is merely looking at how to allocate what resources we have to fulfill wants and needs.  In a free market, it is incentives, costs and benefits, that drive resource allotment.  While money is one incentive, so is interest and personal fulfillment.  This is why many faith-based organizations are run largely by volunteers; they get their incentives from personal fulfillment, and not money.

The same goes for charter school teacher-leaders.  Their leadership roles added to teaching responsibilities are more stimulating and fulfilling than just teaching alone. As such, they need less monetary incentive to provide a good education.

These educators also have a vested interest in the success of the whole school, not just their classroom.  There can be no more blaming of upper management when you are upper management. Providing freedom and responsibility has proved a win-win for many charters.

Adam Rule – MCPP Intern


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