How Do Charter Schools Compete for Teachers? A Local Perspective

March 2010

NCSRP Working Paper #2010-1

When policymakers and researchers debate personnel policies in public education, they sometimes hold up charter schools as examples of the benefits of a freer and more competitive approach to attracting and retaining teachers. To date, most of the evidence about innovative charter school personnel policies comes from on-average comparisons between charter schools and conventional public schools.

But there are good reasons to wonder whether on-average comparisons of charter schools and conventional public schools overlook important variation within the charter school sector. After all, an individual school’s personnel policies may depend in part on local circumstances, including the local supply of teachers relative to demand, the financial resources available to the school, state regulations, and the behavior of competing employers. If charter schools are to inform larger debates in public education about human capital and personnel policies, a more localized perspective is an important piece of understanding the possibilities and limits of a less regulated system.

With that in mind, this paper offers an exploratory look at how charter schools compete for teachers across local contexts. The data come from an original survey of hiring practices in charter schools and their local school districts in six-states. The analysis focuses on two areas of personnel practice: recruitment and compensation.