February 25, 2015
From: FCCS Board of Trustees
To: FCCS Faculty and Staff
Subject: Official Response to Facebook Posting
We recently came upon a Facebook posting from a staff member stating that teachers had gotten together at our school and decided to oppose the Governor's bill because it gave charters the option to be the employers of their staff and because it offered a waiver from teacher certification requirements. We wanted to explain why these are important provisions for our school.
In terms of staff being employees of the Frederick Classical Charter School, Inc., which is the non-profit that runs the school, this is very much the norm across the nation. 93% of charters are the employers of their staff. To explain why the current situation doesn't make sense, consider a teacher in the Frederick County Public Schools. Over one weekend with friends, this teacher learned about a public school in Carroll County that sounded like a great place to work, and eventually had an interview there and was offered a job. The teacher said to the Principal, "Yes, I love the mission and vision for your school and I want to work there, but there's just one condition. I want to remain an employee of the Frederick County Public Schools instead of the Carroll County Public Schools."
Of course, this doesn't make sense. No Principal would accept such a condition. This teacher clearly values working for the Frederick County Public Schools more than the opportunity to work at a school with a mission and vision that appeals to her. A teacher who wanted to work in the Carroll County Public School system because the mission and vision of the school she was attracted to would have accepted the offer.
It's the same thing for charters. It doesn't make sense for a charter school non-profit to borrow employees from the Frederick County school system. As independent schools, charters are supposed to have their own employees, just as the Frederick County Public Schools have different employees than the Carroll County Public Schools. This allows charters to set higher salary scales, hire on a timeline they set, provide better working conditions, use an evaluation system tailored specifically to the charter, and so on. It also helps with retention. Only candidates who really want to work at the specific charter school will apply. In our current situation, there is a greater tendency for teachers to "try out" the charter, receive specialized and expensive training, only to transfer out of the school a year later. That's not good for kids or the operator.
While we respect the right of teachers to choose FCPS over FCCS or vice versa, we hope that teachers will respect the school's right to elect to have its own employees. Teachers get to choose who they work for, but charters in Maryland currently don't have the choice to have their own employees. Teachers don't get to decide this issue for the school. As the operator of the charter, the Board of Trustees does, and we have decided that we want to be like nearly every other charter in the country and have our own employees. We hope you will support our right to make this choice just as we support your right to make choices for your career.
In terms of teacher certification, our school places an emphasis on adhering to well-conducted research. Over 40 years of research into teacher certification have not shown a correlation between having teacher certification and student achievement.
The Abell Foundation did a report on this a few years back:
The National Council for Teacher Quality also provides a nice summary of the evidence on what qualities matter in terms of student achievement.
We hope you get a chance to read these reports, and will support letting our school hire experienced classical teachers regardless of certification status. What really matters in the classroom isn't a teacher's paper credentials, but whether they actually can deliver effective instruction. As an example, Dr. Perrin, who is an nationally recognized classical consultant who has been helping our school, is not permitted to be hired as a teacher at our school. We hope you can see why that doesn't make much sense. We hope you will support our mission and vision to adhere to the research on teacher certification and support our ability to hire qualified candidates regardless of their certification status.
As always, we encourage you to reach out to us with concerns. I can be reached at 301-646-8280.