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School & District Management Opinion

Random Research Question

December 02, 2007 1 min read

There’s a lot being made of the inequities in school staffing.

New teachers are assigned to inner city schools that administrators find hard to staff. If they don’t leave the profession, when they have enough seniority to get first dibs on an opening, many move to schools in less demanding neighborhoods. The argument is that schools in wealthier, or less disadvantaged, neighborhoods get more experienced, and therefore better, teachers.

Intuitively obvious, but does evaluation show that teacher experience per se is educationally significant? And if so, by how much? Or are some other teacher attributes more important to improvements in student performance? Is it a simple problem of analysis or a lot more complex?

As one colleague pointed out, some teachers may not be tempermentally suited for inner city school environments. However senior, they might leave the profession or move to the suburbs, rather than stay in that district assignment. What attributes suggest a teacher will be suited for an inner city school?

Regardless of the answer to these questions, there is an economic inequity. More senior teachers make more money. Schools filled with more senior teachers cost the taxpayer more than schools with new teachers. On a per student basis, more money is going to kids in some schools than others, and in neighborhoods better off than the inner city. Inner city kids don’t have the same needs as their better off peers, they have greater needs.

That’s an argument for per pupil funding of schools, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that moving older more expensive teachers to inner city schools is an answer. Maybe the difference in cost between a new and old teacher should be devoted to higher pay for any inner city teacher. Maybe the money should be used to purchase school improvement products and services - professional development of the young staff, more extra-curricular activities, computers, special materials, etc, etc.. Maybe resource allocation at the school should be determined by the school.

Does evaluation prove out the idea that older teachers add more value to student performance in inner city settings? in any setting? in general?

If you have some insights, let edbizbuzz readers know.

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