Do charter school teachers in Arizona pursue Master's degrees as often as the public school teachers?
March 24, 2010 11:09 AM   Subscribe

Any teachers in Arizona out there? What are the key differences between charter school teachers and public school teachers in the greater Phoenix area, especially with regards to professional development?

I understand that charter schools have flourished in the Phoenix area, to a greater extent than they have in some other areas of the country. Because a charter school is really more of a public/private hybrid, I'm trying to determine whether the teachers are more like public school teachers or private school teachers when they pursue professional development.

For example: Public school teachers in the area are often paid more for completing additional educational credits. A teacher with a Master's degree will make more than a teacher with just a bachelor's degree. A teacher with a doctorate will make more than a teacher with a Master's, everything else being equal. Public school teachers also get paid more for additional years of experience.

Private school teachers on the other hand, seem less likely to have a Master's degree, or at least have less financial incentive to pursue a Master's degree. They don't seem to get the same kinds of pay raises for additional education. It may be true that private schools are more likely to hire someone with a Master's degree in the first place.

I'm trying to figure out where charter school teachers fall on this scale. Do most have master's degrees? Will charter schools pay teachers with more education more money? Do charter school teachers pursue master's degrees just as commonly, but perhaps for other reasons?

I'm looking for resources for this information. I've googled, worked with the information available from NCES, and tried to find studies on the subject, but at this point, even anecdotal information would be welcome. You can assume I know plenty about teachers nationwide, but not much about teachers in Arizona specifically.
posted by terilou to Education (3 answers total)
This is going to be a difficult question for anyone to answer with anything other than anecdotes. You should probably consider contacting some of the charter schools in the area directly to gauge how things work.

My cursory impression is that raises may be a little more difficult to come by, as charters, while funded by the state, are funded based on how many students they have for the given year. This means that if enrollment drops, they may have serious problems with their endowment, so to speak.

The Arizona State Board for Charter Schools is the arbiter for all Charter information and their staff is very friendly and helpful. They may be able to offer guidance on this issue as well, and answer some of your professional development questions, in terms of trends and things they've seen. At the very least, I'm guessing they'd be able to put you in touch with the right people.
posted by disillusioned at 1:47 PM on March 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, at the Arizona charter school I attended, most of my teachers only had bachelors. A few had masters degrees, and I can think of two that had PhDs. I seem to recall that people with higher degrees did get paid more, and I think the school could pay a tiny bit of money for summer continuing education if the teachers wanted. Most of the teachers did intend to pursue higher education, but found the lack of money and time a hardship.

The problem with charter schools in Arizona is that they are perpetually broke. The state doesn't pay nearly as much per child to charter schools as it does to the public schools, so a lot of the good, and not scammy, charter schools have no money. This leads directly to lack of opportunity to get higher degrees.

I will email a teacher from high school to see if they can answer your question, since they'll definitely know more about it.
posted by pecknpah at 1:48 PM on March 24, 2010

Both answers were helpful. Thanks a lot!
posted by terilou at 9:25 AM on March 30, 2010

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