People everywhere envy teachers for the comfortable schedule, reliable benefits, and job security, but teachers are not known for their lucrative compensation packages. A new charter school in New York City is looking to change that by offering six-figure salaries to recruit the best teachers.
The school, scheduled to open next fall for 120 fifth-graders, will offer its eight teachers yearly salaries of $125,000 with the potential for additional performance-based bonuses, more than twice the salary for New York City public school teachers and nearly two-and-a-half times the national average for teacher salaries
According to an article in Friday's New York Times
, the new school is looking to prove that teachers, not small-class sizes or high technology, are the backbone of an effective learning environment.
Known as The Equity Project Charter School, the school aims to be the practical implementation of research that highlights the role of skilled teachers in student success. According to the school's Web site
, "TEP is uniquely focused on attracting and retaining master teachers. To do so, TEP uses a three-pronged strategy that it terms the 3 R's: Rigorous Qualifications, Redefined Expectations, & Revolutionary Compensation."
The new school has recruited an impressive array of teachers, including two Ivy League graduates and Joe Carbone, the gym teacher whose previous work includes time as Kobe Bryant's personal trainer.
"The idea [behind the school] is relatively simple," said founder and principal Zeke Vanderhoek in an interview with WNYC in March
. "The key to educating anybody, but particularly important for low-income students, is a great teacher. The idea behind the school is that to attract and retain great teachers you have to do what you do in any other profession to attract and retain talent, and that is pay for it."
The school also aims to demonstrate that its model for teacher compensation can be accomplished using existing public funding; it is not relying on outside donations like some other charter schools, except to finance the cost of its building, which represents a cost not encountered by existing public schools.
The school's first class was chosen through a lottery that gave preference to neighborhood students and academic low performers; most of the students are from low-income Hispanic families.
Eventually, the school hopes to grow to 480 children in Grades 5 to 8, with 28 teachers.
The fact that the teachers will be well paid is not the only thing that distinguishes TEP from other schools. Because there are fewer teachers available, class sizes will be larger at TEP than in most public schools. The expected size is 30 students per class--six more than the average 5th grade class in New York City. TEP teachers will not have the same retirement benefits as members of the city's teachers' union and they can be fired at will.
Interestingly, the teachers will be making more than Vanderhoek, who, according to The New York Times,
will earn $90,000.
The new school opens as President Obama and his education secretary, Arne Duncan, call for nationwide increases in the number of charter schools that the President hopes will stimulate innovation in education.
"Right now, there are caps on how many charter schools
are allowed in some states, no matter how well they are preparing our students. That isn't good for our children, our economy, or our country," the President said during a speech at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on March 10. Assuming that there is a mechanism for accountability, the President called upon states "to reform their charter rules, and lift caps on the number of allowable charter schools, wherever such caps are in place."