Competing for Talent

Private schools who want to hire highly qualified and experienced teachers must complete in the market with California public schools.  Let’s consider the benefits of becoming a public school teacher in California:

  • The CDE reports: “The average salary of public school teachers in 2020–21 for the State of California was $85,856.
  • In an 2019 EdSource article, Grant Boyken, public affairs executive officer for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)  is quoted as saying that teachers received a benefit of $4,086 per month after 25 years in the classroom.
  • It should be noted that unlike school administrators who participate in CalPERS, teachers do not participate in the Social Security program, so they have no fall-back option to Social Security. reports the average Social Security Check to be $1,704.63 as of June 2023.
  • The California Policy Center reports that teachers retire on average around age 62.
  • The life expectancy in California is 79 according to CDC
  • Schools are in session 180 days of the years, but teachers commonly self-report that they work 250 days per year. There are 260 regular work days in a calendar year, and most people are lucky to get two weeks (ten days) vacation, so we will assume teachers are employed full time.

Doing some back-of-the-envelop calculations with round numbers:

  • Teachers make on average 86,000 per year.
  • Teachers make on average $4,000 per month in retirement, about $2,380 more than the average social security recipient for about 20 years, a total of $571,440 more over their lifetime, assuming no cost of living increases, inflation, and other realities.
  • Considering the value of their pension plan, a private sector employer would need to offer a teacher about $100,000 per year to make the job financially equivalent to the public sector.

Teaching in the public sector offers quality pay and unprecedented income security.  It is very difficult for private sector companies to compete with this kind of compensation.  Becoming a teacher in California is good economics.

The easiest strategy is for the private sector to opt out of competition for certificated teachers; the competition for salary and benefits offered to a certificated  teacher is not a budget reality for the private sector.  While there are many, many, highly qualified and non-certificated teachers in the private sector, staffing qualifications may vary wildly and small schools may rely heavily on untrained parent volunteers.

And yet, to maintain private school accreditation with WASC, private schools must demonstrate their staff is qualified.  Studia Nova provides our virtual teachers the training they need to excel in a virtual environment.  We also believe what is good for the goose is good for the gander, if we expect our high school students to learn the material, then we expect all our teachers to learn the same. Our internal teacher training program stresses technology skillfulness and subject matter depth across all high school subject areas.

While our founding teachers are California certificated, our organization is embarking on a more relevant and up-to-date private virtual teacher development program.  We look forward to sharing our approach so that private schools may offer consistent teaching quality throughout our beautiful state.