robertogreco + retention + employment   1

Charter schools and “churn and burn”: How they’re trying to hold on to teachers by making them happier
"But as the charter school movement comes of age, school leaders are realizing that stability and consistency matter, and that good teachers aren’t widgets that can easily be replaced. As a result, schools are offering new perks designed to build sustainable staffs, like retirement plans, on-site childcare, and nutrition advice. They face an uphill battle, however, in countering the deeply ingrained perception that many charter jobs are high-velocity detours for young people on the way to something else. In part, they’re hoping to rebrand charter-school teaching as a viable long-term career option with the job security we associate with traditional public schools—at least up to a point.

While these changes can’t match the pensions, union protections, and tenure provisions teachers have at many traditional schools, they mark a significant shift for charters. Long-term teacher retention wasn’t a priority at Success Prep when the school opened in 2009, part of a radical reconstruction of the city’s long-troubled school system after Hurricane Katrina that involved opening dozens of new charter schools. The plan was to “constantly replace teachers with new teachers,” says Gangopadhyay, 35, while focusing on providing the staff with strong curricular professional development. Most of the founding teachers had just a couple years of experience in the classroom. (Although three had more than 10 years of experience teaching.) The average age was 29. First-year teachers at Success Prep make $44,295.

Because of the demanding nature of the job, departures were expected. Most teachers, Gangopadhyay then believed, had “a shelf life” at his school.

Throughout the charter sector, that’s largely been true. At the end of the 2008-2009 school year, almost a quarter of charter school teachers left their schools or the profession, compared to 15.5 percent in traditional public schools, according to a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics.

The transiency can be attributed to a few main causes: At urban charters like Success, which frequently serve mostly low-income, underprepared students of color, teachers are expected to work considerably longer hours than is typical—sometimes as much as 80 or 90 hours a week. Such charters, often referred to as “no excuses” schools, rely heavily on programs like Teach for America, which import young teachers for two-year commitments. And charter school teachers are far less likely to belong to unions, and have less job security as a result. While charter school leaders don’t necessarily plan on high turnover, it might be “a necessary byproduct” of an intense, results-driven approach, says Andy Rotherham, a co-founder of Bellwether Education, a nonprofit consulting organization that works with charter schools.

At Success Prep, teacher attrition has worsened over the years. In 2012 the school lost just three out of 24 teachers, but the following year, six more departed. As a result, all but one of the eighth-grade teachers were new last fall. The instability led to student misbehavior and classroom management problems early on in the school year according to John Gonzalez, a first-year eighth-grade math teacher. Students didn’t have relationships with most of their teachers, which made enforcing strict rules—already tough to sell to the young teens—even more difficult."
education  retention  teaching  teachers  employment  2015  successpreparatoryacademy  kipp  tfa  teachforamerica  stability  yesprep  charterschools 
may 2015 by robertogreco

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