As a fan of economic theory (by no means an expert), I’ve always tried to rationalize the chasm that exists between private school and public school teacher pay.
Having been both a private school and public school teacher, I’ve had to rationalize this on a whole different level.
Though there are lots of generalities in this article, I do agree with the concluding paragraph here:
The biggest lesson public education can draw from the salary gap isn’t to cut wages, or quash unions, or hold open auditions for unlicensed teachers. The lesson, in fact, has little to do with salaries at all. The moral is that not all teaching jobs are alike. Different school environments make for radically different work, and many teachers find private schools offer a more rewarding experience. Attracting and retaining teachers, then, means more than just raising salaries. It means taking disciplinary obstacles and bureaucratic nonsense out of teachers’ paths.
My only caveat is that not every private school is the same Dead-Poets-Society engendering experience for teachers. I taught at three very different private schools over the last decade and I had three very different experiences. There were varying levels of responsibilities, overhead, bureaucracies, call for standards etc.
In general, I’ll say that the best schools are where the teachers are happy and passionate about their jobs. How to accomplish that? Get out of the teachers’ way and trust them as the professionals they are (or at least they are hired to be).