Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Job Outlook for Veteran Social Studies Teachers at Charter Schools

My wife applied four jobs at four charter schools this spring, three in Rhode Island, one in Massachusetts. For those of you who don't know us personally, she's the real teacher in the family, a stone-cold, natural-born teacher with ten years of urban (and a few more of rural) experience, much of that time implementing serious cross-disciplinary project-based learning, acting as School Improvement Team chair and other school leadership roles, and acting as a mentor teacher in the Brown teacher education program, including their intensive summer session. As a top step teacher with a Master's degree in the PPSD, she makes something north of $70,000 a year.

Despite the extreme toughness of the current job market, I was optimistic that at least one of these jobs would work out, because, in addition to Jennifer's skill and experience and evident good fits philosophically, we had some pretty good connections going -- friends on the board of directors, administrators who Jennifer had mentored as pre-service teachers, strong letters from one of the founders of the school, relatives with prominent roles in the school community.

And... nothing.

My conclusion from all this is that charter schools just don't feel they can spend their personnel budget on high experience and salary history/social studies teachers. They have to save their money for tested subjects, then science, then realistically a lot of them would probably even prioritize arts above social studies. Given the current system, this is completely rational. Most charters cannot afford all experienced teachers, so they have to pick and choose.

Well, that explains three of the cases. The fourth was a special case because it was a charter that had offered Jennifer a job four years ago and then retracted it (i.e., denied they had made it over the phone) when they found out she was pregnant. Actually going through the interview process again this year was probably just too awkward for everyone concerned.

So... we may be in the PPSD for a while whether we like it or not.


Tyson said...

Top step after 10 years? It takes 20 in my district. I wonder where the average top step is at in contracts across the nation...

Tom Hoffman said...

Yeah, it is one of the great things about Providence! I think it is somewhat more common in old-line AFT locals than NEA ones. It is more of an industrial union model.