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March 09, 2006

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Andromeda Yelton

I don't know that you can draw anything interesting from this.

I teach at a private school which is predominantly frequented by wealthy parents. And, yes, I see parents talking warmly of teachers who are beloved by the students. But I also see that most of my coworkers are excellent teachers. Kids in every classroom are learning -- and they're learning a lot relative to what they would learn in most schools. In other words, parents don't need to focus on the quality of individual teachers because that's already been guaranteed by their tuition dollars. They get to discriminate along this less important axis now.

The link explicitly says that they're comparing -- not more or less wealthy parents within the same school -- but parents in *schools* of greater or lesser wealth. I hazard that these greater-wealth schools are attracting higher-quality teachers (due to better funding, working conditions, and prestige). Parents at these schools are reassured about teacher quality, so they prioritize other things.

In fact, I might even expect that higher-wealth parents have already tacitly expressed their preferences for teacher quality via either buying a house in an expensive school district, or spending money on private education (isn't this, after all, how people with money express educational quality preferences?). Having satisfied this implicitly, they then express preferences along other axes within this framework. People who haven't had the money to satisfy their quality preference are left to seek it by selecting teachers within the schools they can afford.

To do a real comparison you'd have to look at parents' preferences for teachers within the same school.

John

Couldn't it be held true that students who enjoy learning more will attempt to achieve more? There may be less "value added" in the short term when comparing test scores, but I would think that those students who are happy at school would be more apt to apply to colleges and graduate degrees because they associate good feelings with school. Those students who are disciplined more harshly may look forward to the end of their schooling.

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