Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Public school teachers

Erin O'Connor notes the alarming levels of absenteeism among Indianapolis public school teachers. A particularly generous leave policy seems to be involved; predictably, the teachers' union is blocking various attempts at reform.

Whatever Indianapolis's particular issues are, I believe that there are structural problems that cause public school teachers to be unhappy (my thinking on this issue has been heavily influenced by this book.) These teachers have to work in schools which have no unified purpose, since they can't specialize and must try to be everything to everybody; they have to work in schools where their lazy and incompetent colleagues are protected by tenure while talent and initiative go unrewarded; they have to work in schools where effective discipline is impossible; they have to work in schools where excessively centralized decision-making burdens them with endless paperwork. It should not be surprising that private school teachers are happier, even though they make less money.

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