At some charter schools in Texas, it’s the teachers who can’t wait to clear out at the end of the school year.
At Accelerated Intermediate Academy in Houston, 79 percent of the faculty turned over before the 2008-09 school year, according to recently released state data. At Peak Preparatory in Dallas, 71 percent did not return. At Harmony Science Academy in College Station, part of Harmony’s nine-school statewide network, 69 percent of teachers split. (Officials at all three schools did not respond to requests for comment.)
In all, more than 40 of nearly 200 charter operators the state tracked — some which oversee multiple schools — had to replace more than half their teaching staffs before the last school year. Even more established and successful operators, including KIPP and YES Prep in Houston, lose nearly a third of their teachers annually. In contrast, just six of more than 1,000 non-charter school districts statewide had more than half their teachers leave, and none of the 20 largest school districts had a turnover rate higher than 16 percent. (Austin ISD had the highest.)
While the new state data provides figures for individual school districts and charter operators, it doesn't include comparative statewide averages. However, a study of 2006-07 data by the Texas Center for Educational Research put the average teacher turnover for all charters at 43 percent, compared to 16 percent for traditional public school districts that year.
YES Prep, for instance, almost exclusively hires younger teachers who they expect to move on to other careers. They average teacher on their seven campuses averages only about 25 years old. Many are recruited by the Teach For America program, which requires only a two-year commitment to teaching.
According to the TCER study, the average charter school teacher made $35,556 compared with $44,897 in traditional public schools. That difference likely owes both to lower rates of pay at charters and to their practice of higher younger teachers.