Guest blogger Michael Podgursky, economics professor at the University of Missouri, reflects on Fordham’s latest report, How Americans Would Slim Down Public Education.
A growing body of research in economics points to the importance of human resource policy in the performance of public and private organizations. In this regard, this new Fordham survey shows solid public support for more rational personnel policies in public education. A large majority (73 percent) favors the option of having high-performing educators teach larger classes. Similarly, when faced with a personnel decision requiring workforce reductions, a majority favors laying off a much more senior (twenty years experience) teacher with average evaluations over a novice teacher (two years experience) with excellent evaluations. Finally, 70 percent of respondents favor scrapping traditional defined-benefit pension plans in favor of individual retirement plans. Of this group, 17 percent favor this reform for new hires only, while the majority seems to support change for both current teachers and new hires. Various school-reform organizations are pushing for changes in rigid personnel policies in public schools. This Fordham survey suggests public support for these types of reform.