Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

A Comparison of Teacher Job Satisfaction in Public and Private Schools

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

A Comparison of Teacher Job Satisfaction in Public and Private Schools

Article excerpt


Teachers have come under much criticism recently for a number of issues, including generous pensions, enviable work schedules, and tenure. Combine that with greater demands for assessment and calls for more teacher accountability and it is reasonable to assume that most teachers would be dissatisfied with their jobs. It is important to note, however, that most of the above issues only affect public school teachers; private school teachers do not have generous state-funded pensions nor are they required to partake in state-mandated assessments for their students. Hence, it is reasonable to assume that job satisfaction should be higher among private school teachers than among public school teachers. Interestingly, however, very little research has been conducted on comparing the job satisfaction levels of public school teachers to the satisfaction levels of private school teachers. Most prior research in this area had as their focus teacher job satisfaction in public school settings (Gius, 2013; Moore, 2012; Belfield and Heywood, 2008; Liu and Ramsey, 2008; and Chapman and Lowther, 1982). This lack of research on private school teachers is unfortunate, especially given that, according to the Council for American Private Education, ten percent of all students (pre-K through 12th grade) attend private schools. Hence, not only did prior research ignore a potentially interesting and worthwhile comparison between public and private school teachers, but this research has also ignored a sizable minority of students and their teachers.

The present study attempts to rectify that situation and compares the job satisfaction of public school teachers to private school teachers. Using a large sample of teachers from the year 2007, the results of the this study suggest that teachers who work in public schools are much less satisfied with their jobs than are private school teachers; this result is even more striking given that private school teachers earn, on average, 31 percent less than public school teachers. Other noteworthy results are that female elementary school teachers who work in schools that do not offer merit pay and that do not have large percentages of minority teachers were in general more happy with their jobs than other teachers.

This article is organized as follows. Section II presents a review of the relevant prior literature on teacher job satisfaction. Section III describes the empirical model and the data used. Section IV presents the results of various statistical techniques, and section V discusses conclusions that can be derived from these results.


One of the earliest studies conducted on teacher job satisfaction was Chapman and Lowther (1982). Using a survey of 542 University of Michigan graduates who went on to become teachers, job satisfaction was defined as satisfaction with their current employer or satisfaction with their professional development. Two of the primary results of this study were that female teachers had greater job satisfaction than male teachers and recognition received from supervisors contributed to positive job satisfaction.

Liu and Ramsey (2008) looked at data from the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) and the Teacher Follow-Up Survey (TFS) for the years 1999-2001 in order to ascertain the factors that may affect teacher job satisfaction. The authors found that teachers, in general, were not satisfied with working conditions and that less experienced minority teachers were less satisfied than other teachers. According to their results, gender also played a role in teacher job satisfaction, although it varied depending upon the type of satisfaction examined.

Belfield and Heywood (2008) used data from SASS for the year 1999 in order to examine teacher job satisfaction. Using an ordered probit analysis, they found that male teachers who were union members and who worked in merit pay schools were less satisfied than other teachers. …

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