Teachers will earn $125,000 a year at a charter middle school opening in New York City. They’ll be eligible for $25,000 bonuses. Six hundred teachers applied for eight jobs at The Equity Project, which will target low-performing children in a Hispanic neighborhood.
Founder Zeke Vanderhoek, 32, looked for master teachers who can engage students and get the attention of “potential troublemakers,” reports the New York Times.
To make ends meet, teachers will hold responsibilities usually shouldered by other staff members, like assistant principals (there will be none). There will be no deans, substitute teachers (except for extended leaves) or teacher coaches. Teachers will work longer hours and more days, and have 30 pupils, about 6 more than the typical New York City fifth-grade class.
The principal, Mr. Vanderhoek, will earn just $90,000. Teachers will not have the same retirement benefits as members of the city’s teachers’ union. And they can be fired at will.
Vanderhoek plans to finance the operating costs without private donations.
Charter schools rarely use merit pay, notes Stafford Palmieri on Education Gadfly. That’s because they can reward good teachers and fire ineffective teachers.
. . . high-performing charter teachers can’t get very far up the pay scale if they’re ineffective because they’d be dismissed first.
. . . The currency of the charter rewards system is respect: knowing that your peers — other teachers — have their jobs because they deserve them, not because they made it through three years without molesting a child or passed an eighth-grade level exam that has little relationship to actual teaching quality. This can make a huge difference when it comes to workplace culture.
Most charters pay about the same as local district-run schools, with extra pay for longer hours or added duties. Schools with a strong culture and community can attract and retain good teachers without offering high salaries. Disorderly, dysfunctional schools can’t keep good teachers no matter what the pay.