Presentation Title

Corporate Stockholm Syndrome, Silent Protest, and 40%: The Case Study of Teacher Turnover at a Fusion Academy Campus in California

Location

Guzman 113, Dominican University of California

Start Date

4-17-2019 6:20 PM

Department

Education

Student Type

Graduate

Faculty Mentor(s)

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

Keywords: teacher turnover, movers, leavers, stayers, corporate schools, privatization

Fusion Academy, a chain of private, for-profit, corporate-run schools boasting a one-to-one student-teacher ratio, opened over 50 campuses since 2008. The 2017-20018 yearly teacher turnover rate at a California Fusion Academy was over 40%, five times greater than the national average. Despite research broadly examining private schools and macro-analyses on teacher turnover, no scholarly writing and scant journalism specifically examining Fusion Academy has been published; therefore, given research correlating higher teacher turnover rates with lower student test scores, this study took on immediate importance. Using a sequential, mixed-methods model, initial surveys supplemented subsequent interviews, culminating with an ethnographic narrative contextualized by national statistics on teacher turnover. According to federally-conducted surveys, teachers voluntarily terminate their employment due to three main reasons: 1) personal life issues, 2) financial concerns, and 3) dissatisfaction with administration. This study concluded that teachers primarily left Fusion Academy because of financial concerns, including: remuneration via hourly wages rather than yearly salaries, irregular schedules, and insufficient benefits. Furthermore, this study also found that current discourse on teacher turnover would benefit from improved typological nuance; i.e., dissatisfaction with the campus’s administration was cited less frequently than dissatisfaction with Fusion as an organization, for reasons such as: “skeletal” curricular support, poor communication practices, and courses with as few as 20 hours of required instructional time. The study concluded with teachers’ suggestions of policies increase retention rates at Fusion Academy, including: 1) higher, salaried compensation, 2) substantive professional development opportunities, and 3) an investment strategy emphasizing instructional quality over geographical expansion.

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Apr 17th, 6:20 PM

Corporate Stockholm Syndrome, Silent Protest, and 40%: The Case Study of Teacher Turnover at a Fusion Academy Campus in California

Guzman 113, Dominican University of California

Keywords: teacher turnover, movers, leavers, stayers, corporate schools, privatization

Fusion Academy, a chain of private, for-profit, corporate-run schools boasting a one-to-one student-teacher ratio, opened over 50 campuses since 2008. The 2017-20018 yearly teacher turnover rate at a California Fusion Academy was over 40%, five times greater than the national average. Despite research broadly examining private schools and macro-analyses on teacher turnover, no scholarly writing and scant journalism specifically examining Fusion Academy has been published; therefore, given research correlating higher teacher turnover rates with lower student test scores, this study took on immediate importance. Using a sequential, mixed-methods model, initial surveys supplemented subsequent interviews, culminating with an ethnographic narrative contextualized by national statistics on teacher turnover. According to federally-conducted surveys, teachers voluntarily terminate their employment due to three main reasons: 1) personal life issues, 2) financial concerns, and 3) dissatisfaction with administration. This study concluded that teachers primarily left Fusion Academy because of financial concerns, including: remuneration via hourly wages rather than yearly salaries, irregular schedules, and insufficient benefits. Furthermore, this study also found that current discourse on teacher turnover would benefit from improved typological nuance; i.e., dissatisfaction with the campus’s administration was cited less frequently than dissatisfaction with Fusion as an organization, for reasons such as: “skeletal” curricular support, poor communication practices, and courses with as few as 20 hours of required instructional time. The study concluded with teachers’ suggestions of policies increase retention rates at Fusion Academy, including: 1) higher, salaried compensation, 2) substantive professional development opportunities, and 3) an investment strategy emphasizing instructional quality over geographical expansion.