Sometimes teachers feel like no one is listening. Well, this week someone said "We hear you." The US Dept. of Ed asked teachers about their jobs. The folks at The Friedman Foundation made a picture out of the puzzle pieces of information and give us "Free to Teach: What America's Teachers Say About Teaching in Public and Private Schools".
Study co-author Greg Forster via Jay Greene's blog:
"We found that the government school system is not providing the best environment for teaching. Public school teachers fare worse than private school teachers on virtually every measurement – sometimes by large margins. They have less autonomy in the classroom, less influence over school policy, less ability to keep order, less support from administrators and peers, and less safety. So it’s not surprising that they also have less job satisfaction on a variety of measures.Here's the link to the .pdf copy of "Free to Teach: What America's Teachers Say About Teaching in Public and Private Schools".
Which of the two sources of influence – politics or parents – do you think is more focused on demanding that schools provide better teaching?
Parents and teachers are traditionally thought of as antagonists. And no wonder – under the current system, parents have no effective control over their children’s education other than what they can extract from their teachers by pestering and nagging them. The status quo is designed to force parents and teachers into an antagonistic relationship."
A couple of snips from the study.
- Private school teachers are more likely to teach in urban environments (39 percent v. 29 percent) while public school teachers are more likely to teach in rural environments (22 percent versus 11 percent).
- But the claims attributed to “teachers” actually come from self-appointed spokesmen, not from a nationally representative sample of teachers. What if we asked teachers nationwide how things actually worked in their schools, and found out that their testimony tended to confirm what the reformers claimed?
- The most striking difference between the public and private sectors is the disparity in school size. Public schools have, on average, over twice the number of enrolled students, 804 students per school versus 385 in private schools.
- This salary difference sheds a different light on the subsequent findings in this study. As the remaining tables show, working conditions for teachers are superior in private schools across a wide variety of measurements. While these are observational data and we cannot perform a statistical analysis to determine causation, the data lend themselves to the hypothesis that public school salaries are higher partly to compensate for the inferior working conditions teachers endure in public schools.
- Public school teachers report working a total of 52 hours per week and teaching for 27 of those hours, while private school teachers report working a total of 48 hours and teaching for 26 of those.
- Public school teachers are twice as likely as private school teachers to agree that “I sometimes feel it is a waste of time to try to do my best as a teacher” (17 percent versus 9 percent).
- The remarkable observation that private school teachers are 26 percentage points more likely to strongly agree that they have all the textbooks and supplies they need is all the more surprising given that private schools make do with much less spending than public schools. The average private school tuition is $6,600, compared to over $10,000 per student spent in public schools. Yet private schools do a radically better job of equipping their teachers.
- Popular myth has it that the private school sector is a redoubt of racial privilege, while public schools are the only hope for breaking down racial barriers. In fact, while desegregation efforts have repeatedly failed to reduce actual levels of segregation in public schools, the empirical evidence has consistently shown that private school vouchers succeed in providing a less segregated school environment. Vouchers are also the education reform that has the best empirical track record at improving educational outcomes for minority students.