Neglected issues: How charter schools manage teachers and acquire resources

D. Brent Edwards, Stephanie M. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background/Context: Charter schools are commonly discussed as being more effective at matching student and family interests with school mission, ensuring family choice of educational products and improving education quality and the efficiency of resource use as a result of the competitive dynamics they are assumed to generate between themselves and public schools. The rhetoric around charter schools in general puts little attention on teacher management and resource acquisition, and the literature on charter schools has tended to focus on outcomes such as student achievement. The prevalence of charter schools within and outside the United States underscores the need to understand what role such issues as teacher management and resourcing play in this increasingly popular education reform. Focus of Study: The purpose of this article is to uncover and present the strategies that charter schools employ for managing teachers and acquiring resources, and with what implications. Research Design: Through a qualitative case study of a charter school program in Bogotá, Colombia, that began in 1999, we investigated (a) the regulations that governed the hiring, firing, and compensation of charter school teachers, in addition to (b) how charters respond to those regulations in contracting teachers, and (c) the overall approach of charter principals and the charter management organizations (CMOs) that oversee them when it comes to teacher engagement, collaboration, supervision, and professional development. In terms of resource acquisition, the focus was on understanding (d) the extent of government-provided resources to charter schools, (e) the perceptions of charter principals and CMO directors of the resources provided by the government, (f) the ways in which these actors have sought to complement these resources, and (g) the kinds of additional resources that have been obtained. Data in the form of documents, archives, literature and evaluations, and qualitative interviews were collected over eight months. Conclusions: Findings indicate that charter school teachers in Bogotá feel that many aspects of their work environment are positive, though they also report tradeoffs in terms of job security and financial compensation. Charter schools use the flexibility afforded to them around employment to spend half as much on teachers by hiring nonunionized teachers, contracting them for periods of a year or less, assigning teachers to lower compensation categories, and offering significantly lower salaries, despite teachers working over 12 hours more each week than their public school counterparts. Findings with regard to resource acquisition address differences between public and charter schools, perceptions of school leaders, and the routes to resource acquisition used by charter schools, namely budget prioritization, donations, volunteers, partnerships, and alumni networks. Implications for future research are discussed, including the need for studies to distinguish among types of charter schools. The article concludes that, when addressing the costs and benefits of charter schools, we need to ask: Costs in what sense? Benefits for whom? And at whose expense?.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100301
JournalTeachers College Record
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Neglected issues: How charter schools manage teachers and acquire resources'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this