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Bruno: Dallas Shows That Teacher Working Conditions Matter

2204059683_09eb09601b_mIt sounds like the Dallas Independent School District is having a hard time staffing its summer school program this year, and there's a lesson in that for education reformers.

You might think that when new leaders try to "shake up" a school or district, the biggest challenges they'll face will be related to protests from the existing staff. And that's possibly part of DISD's problem.

What's really striking, though, is the extent to which Dallas' teacher shortage seems not to be a deliberate "protest" at all. Rather, teachers just seem to be increasingly of the mind that taking the summer job isn't worth the effort due to rising stress during the regular school year.

This nicely illustrates why it's a mistake to think about teacher compensation and working conditions in starkly moralistic terms.

For many practical purposes, what teachers "deserve" in terms of salary and workload is neither here nor there. Instead, what often matters is whether you're going to be able to get an adequate supply of teachers for the jobs you're offering.

So next time you're inclined reduce teachers' pay or benefits or vacations or pensions, ask yourself two questions: To what extent will that deter prospective teachers from working in your schools? And are you willing to take that hit to your teacher supply? - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)

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