(Un)Chartered Territory

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Zeke Vanderhoek, founder and principal of The Equity Project Charter School (TEP), is opening a school that aims to attract quality teachers by offering them a starting salary most educators can only dream of: $125,000 annually. But will it work? And is it sustainable? James Wyckoff, professor of education at the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education, joins the conversation.


Zeke Vanderhoek and James Wyckoff

Comments [30]

Remy from Bronx

Salary does not make a better teacher...Charter schools specialize in achievements and preparation for specific fields. These students are already receiving a better quality of education. Public schools need funding. This money should be spent on funding public schools with materials and keeping art programs active. We also need to think about how these teachers are hired. Principals have the power to choose the teachers they want teaching at their school. Favoritism has become a key component on the type of teachers entering these public schools. Many paraprofessionals who want to teach are not being hired and we can thank Bloomberg for that.

Jun. 06 2009 09:23 PM
Bob Smith from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

While I support innovation in education, I believe a very good or great teacher can and will provide high quality education to a class of 8 or of 80. Students with special needs can also be in this group, but they must (if it applies) stay on medication, continue getting counseling or speech/language, etc., but a child with significant issues should be with educators with specific training.

For years I have watched colleges around the nation paying coaches well over a million dollars and building grand athletic buildings or fields while the President of the college or university makes $2 or $3 hundred thousand dollars. It is clear who really is valued and who is running the institution.

Every person who is successful had and has very good and great teachers. So, I support this project!

Jun. 06 2009 01:51 PM
jim clawson from Brooklyn, NY 11218

I await your interview with the Principal after at least a year of practice. This is an experiment -the other half of the equation needs to weigh in ie. given a finite amount of funding what are they not spending it on? And, will the teachers have to "fund" out of pocket things the school can't buy? However you slice it the amount per pupil budgeted is not enough in the city public schools. In this school they are putting all the eggs are in one basket.
Until we spend per pupil what they spend in affluent suburban schools there will not be significant, permanent change in outcomes. This is my opinion. I would like to see each child in NYC have a school with the same resources as any elite private school. Unfortunately we would rather put more and more of our young in jail- there seems to be no shortage of money for this.

Mar. 13 2008 07:59 PM
James from New York

Higher pay allows any employer to screen for higher quality labor - if one can get the same quality for less one will not pay more. Higher quality labor is more productive - (i.e. does a better job) - which is why one will pay more. Higher quality teachers are likely (more probably NOT necessaryily or inevitably) to be better teachers. Ya gets whats ya pays fa. Duh....welcome to Econ. 101

Mar. 13 2008 12:40 PM
js from New Jersey

Charter schools only except kids by lottery. Low Income parents who are smart enough to know how important an education is will be the ones who enter the lottery. Their kids will do well in any school regardless of what a teacher is paid because the parent cares enough to be involved in the child's education. From someone who was raised in the ghetto the problem is LACK OF PARENT INVOLVEMENT in their child'S EDUCATION and not a teacher's salary. Charter schools overall do well without paying their teachers a high salary. Money is not always the answer!!!

Mar. 13 2008 11:50 AM
Mike in Manhattan from Inwood, NYC

The teacher tenure question is a red herring. Tenure can be a problem, but it is necessary to prevent the arbitrary abuses of school administrators.

Anyone who has spent any time as a teacher or in a NYC school's parents association has seen administrators who run their departments as their personal social empires with little or no regard for the education of the opposed to students scores on standardized tests. Administrators who not only look away from teachers who cheat on, say the Regents Exam, but encourage such malfeasance by rewarding the unethical individuals since their cheating financially rewards the principals and assistant principals.

Mar. 13 2008 11:39 AM
Liz from brooklyn

I think if you asked most good teachers you would find that working conditions is the priority over a higher salary.
The idea that the teachers will have a bunch of extra responsibilities and more control is a working conditions issue. So he is not just changing the salary. He is revolutionizing the school organization and saying that its simply a matter of higher salaries is misleading. This new school is not just about salary.

Mar. 13 2008 11:31 AM
Mike from NYC

The problems of the public schools begin in the home and paying teachers more will not solve those problems.

Mar. 13 2008 11:31 AM
Mimi from Bergen County

Even good teachers think "class size" and "class prep." I taught for nearly 30 years at jr. high, high school, and college levels and have to admit that those issues crossed my mind, too. However, when I think about my own teachers, it is they, NOT class size, who made the impact. I'm betting that if you asked most public school kids what their class sizes were or are, they wouldn't have even thought about it. Thia a profound distinction. I'm interested to see what comes of this project and wish the participants well.

Mar. 13 2008 11:28 AM
Mike from NYC

The argument relies on the premise that better pay will attract better teachers. However, if better people have not already become teachers, there are no better teachers to attract with higher salaries and if better teachers already exist, more money did not motivate them to teach.

The real question is: Can more money motivate the existing teachers to teach better?

Since teachers (as well as everyone else) typically believe they are underpaid, I submit that existing teachers will simply take more money for the same effort.

What motivates a teacher? They either like kids and want to teach, or they don't. Once teacher salaries are sufficient, more money does not motivate them to provide extra effort.

Examine the salary and benefit declines in the private sector. The idea that teachers need higher salaries to compliment their already better benefits, generous vacations and job security is an insult to the rest of us who also do not feel appreciated at work but are expected to put forth our best effort.

Perhaps teachers have been in school too long and it's time to grow up.

Mar. 13 2008 11:27 AM
Bill from New York

Put the best teachers in NYC into its worst schools and no inspirational studio-optioned dramas will result. Does pay approach one of the many problems besetting public education? Of course? But singling one element out does nothing. That it's a new school will do as much as the quality of teachers you'll presumably attract, because you'll have a blank slate, or something near to one, in terms of culture.

But, yes, higher pay works towards the genuine professionalization of the field and thus the end of the stigmatization of it, and of education generally, that plagues this country. There are legions of people out there with graduate degrees who've abandoned academia and who wouldn't dream of teaching because (and, yes, this is partly self-fulfilling) they rightly regard K-12 to the the ultimate in thankless, consolation prizes. If you can draw such people into the mix all the better.

Mar. 13 2008 11:26 AM
rick from nyc

im all for more pay for teachers.
but if this is being set up as a test,
how will they grade success?
and if they "fail" will it doom the idea that teachers should be paid more than they are now, which I believe.

Mar. 13 2008 11:24 AM

I feel strongly that the problem in education today begins with teacher tenure. After only 3 years, teachers are guaranteed a job for life. If professionals were required to continually meet high standards at the risk of being replaced, the quality and enthusiasm we see in the first few years would not wane to the extent we see now.

Mar. 13 2008 11:23 AM
hjs from 11211

rich people in NYC send their kids to schools with class sizes of 15-20. so when you can afford to pay 24k/year, one chooses smaller class size

Mar. 13 2008 11:23 AM
Mike in Manhattan from Inwood, NYC

As a former teacher who is married to current NYC high school teacher, I am convinced that the situation is not so simple as better pay to attract better teachers, although that is important and may be effective for a the first few years of a project.

Unfortunately, even the best teacher cannot succeed under a disfunctional, non-supportive school administration. In particular, administrators who are trained to manage educational professionals as if they were factory laborers. In that kind of situation, even the most dedicated and talented teachers are frustrated and poor teachers who know how to play the system or their supervisor are rewarded.

Mar. 13 2008 11:22 AM
Joe from NJ

This is great in NYC. However, what happens if this spreads to places in NJ. Some teachers in Bergen County NJ already make that much. With property Taxes supporting most school funding, doesn't this just price the people who this program is designed to help out of the area this operates in?

Mar. 13 2008 11:22 AM
jakes loverly

Relating to this segment and the last -- Bill Gates might be a nice guy but he's spending those billions on education for one main reason -- the future of Microsoft and that industry depends on educating our kids to the level where they can add LOTS of value.

Mar. 13 2008 11:22 AM
Catherine from Brooklyn

Great! I have always thought that the DOE could make things a lot of simpler if they used the money they currently spend on dopey, convoluted management schemes--as well as having to settle for hiring educators who are horribly unsuited to the profession--by simply raising everyone's salaries by 50%. It would create a wider pool of qualified applicants to choose from, and administrators can be choosier about who they add to their team.

Mar. 13 2008 11:21 AM

I think its fine as long as everyone realized it means very significant increases to property taxes and even state income taxes. Though, with NYS already being one of the highest tax states with more residents leaving than coming in, I'm not sure how workable those types of increases will be. Would this then mean reductions to other programs?
Taxing the rich as was brought up earlier on the show sounds like a possible solution until one realizes that the rich unlike the poor are very mobile and probably have at the least a residence in lower taxed states leaving the costs mostly to the middle class.

Mar. 13 2008 11:20 AM
alex from brooklyn

How does the guest make the connection between high pay and good teachers? Sure I remember great teachers, but I doubt they were the highest paid.

Mar. 13 2008 11:16 AM
Larry from Brooklyn

As a former teacher, I would absolutely go back if the salary were this high. I had to work so many extra jobs in order to make ends meet as a teacher.

I hope theater will be a part of the curriculum at this new school.

Mar. 13 2008 11:15 AM
lb from brooklyn

Being the daughter of two parents, I think this is a wonderful idea. Our teachers should be paid more b/c they build the future, as cheesy as it sounds its true. The teachers I had that were great made such a difference in my education and therefore life. Also, seeing how hard it was for my parents financially...we qualified for welfare they got paid so little. Teachers should be valued more, and getting paid more is a great way to start.

Mar. 13 2008 11:15 AM
ELLEN from Tarrytown, NY

no question that it is the good teachers that stand out for me. Some of them had profound impact on my love for certain subjects to this day. Others I still remember for their creativity and making learning a pleasure. The curriculums I don't really remember at all! :)

Mar. 13 2008 11:14 AM
Mark from Washington Heights

It's fantastic - society pays sports stars and celebrities exorbitant amounts of money, and teachers barely anything. Kudos to rewarding qualified and hard-working teachers!

Mar. 13 2008 11:13 AM
et from here

Good point Jakes..
And an excellent argument towards discontinuing the predominant and inequitable method of funding public schools - property taxes.

Our system needs a rehaul..

Mar. 13 2008 11:13 AM

I currently teach in an urban, high-needs charter school in Brooklyn. While I applaud TEP's effort to press the issue of teacher competency and salaries, all teachers know that the largest factor in student success is parent involvement and home life. The best teachers in the world in a 10:1 class ratio will have little impact on a student whose parents scorn education and see school as free babysitting. Unfortunately, this is not a popular issue to address, but one that undermines every single reform effort in urban education.

Mar. 13 2008 11:13 AM
Jennifer from Connecticut

I went to a couple different school systems that had good teachers, but the difference between them was the class size. The real problem with the larger classes wasn't the amount of time the teacher had for each student, but inadequate facilities. We literally didn't have enough room for all of the desks in the classrooms. We had odd, rotating schedules. We had some classes having mass home rooms in the auditorium.

I think it's wise to get the best teachers with high incentives as long as the facilities are up to supporting them.

Mar. 13 2008 11:13 AM
jakes loverly

(Incidentally, from a public policy POV the amount of GDP contributed by grads from this place is probably 1000 times what it is on average for public school grads -- not a bad return on the 50 grand per teacher investment.

Mar. 13 2008 11:08 AM

Got a problem throw money at it.

Mar. 13 2008 11:08 AM
jakes loverly

I was privileged to graduate from an elite private day school. It was elite because of the high quality of teachers. The teachers were paid regular salaries but had free (very nice) housing -- topping their total comp to over 100 K. Comparing this place to public school is like comparing dirt to diamonds and it was obvious it is b/c the teachers were treated right. It...Worked, funny that.

Mar. 13 2008 11:06 AM

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