Charter School Jobs
Since charter schools are an extension of public schools, many of the job requirements are similar.
However, important differences may exist depending on the individual school and its charter agreement.
All charter schools are different, but they often have a particular focus. Teachers who are experts in or appreciate the school’s focus may experience greater job satisfaction. The school’s focus might be on an area of curriculum like science, music, art or language. Other times, the focus is on a teaching methodology like the Montessori approach. Some charter schools focus on a particular “at-risk” population while others operate on a different basis. For example, some charter schools use merit-based pay for teachers.
Not all charter schools have to hire certified teachers. Statistics from 2009 report that 67% of charter school teachers are certified. The teacher requirements vary by state and the school’s charter. Some states require all or a certain percentage of the teachers to be certified. If this is the case, certified teachers are in a position to bargain for higher salaries
Class size in charter schools is often smaller than typical public schools. Teachers enjoy the benefits of increased one on one time with students. The smaller class size also helps decrease behavior problems.
School size is also relatively smaller with charter schools. 60% of charter schools have 200 students or less.
Overall, charter schools have a large teacher turnover rate. A 2009 study from Vanderbilt University reported that charter school teachers are 230 percent more likely to leave the profession than those with traditional public school teacher jobs. Part of the turnover is likely from charter school teachers planning to only teach a limited time. Also, charter schools, which are typically not associated with teacher unions, have an easier time ending teaching contracts for those teachers who do not perform to the school’s standards.
Since charter schools are eliminated if they do not meet their charter requirements, jobs at charter schools are not as stable as most other public school positions.
School charters are usually in effect for 3-5 years. Afterwards, they must be renewed.
The pay scale at charter schools varies widely. Interested candidates should inquire about salary and benefits prior to accepting a teaching position. While the pay is sometimes identical to the district’s pay scale, salary is based off of the school’s charter. This can mean higher or lower salaries for charter school teachers.
Many charter schools offer performance-based bonuses – 46% according to a study from the Thomas Fordham Foundation. These bonuses can add an additional 5 to 10 percent to the teacher’s earnings.
For those interested in learning more about charter schools, the following resources are helpful.
National Association of Charter School Authorizers
US Charter Schools