Welcome to the archives for NewsTalk, an IBJ blog published from November 2007 through December 2010.

Happy, unhappy teachers

May 28, 2009
Teachers in private schools are happier â?? much happier â?? than their public school counterparts, according to a new study by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

The Indianapolis foundation, created by one of the 20th Centuryâ??s most influential apostles of free markets, Milton Friedman, found that teachers in private schools are less burned out, have more control over their jobs and believe they have a greater impact on students. They also experience less stress and feel safer (nearly one in 10 public school teachers say a student has attacked them physically).

Indiana University educational psychologist Jonathan Plucker, who has served on the board of a private school and says heâ??s neutral on the hot-button topic of vouchers, strongly suspects the main difference is the comparatively motivated parents of private school students.

â??These are interesting facts,â?? Plucker says. â??But these are really preliminary questions, and we should be cautious about doing something with them.â??

Study co-author Christian Dâ??Andrea agrees. The study didnâ??t attempt to unearth why private teachers are happier, but only compared data collected by the U.S. Department of Education.

However, Dâ??Andrea quickly adds that regulations and bureaucracy are straight-jacketing teachers and sapping them of creativity and energy. Private schools place fewer obstacles in front of their teachers, he says.

What do you think? Are parents or bureaucracy the main difference?

Any thoughts on vouchers?
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