Charter school’s $125K experiment

Teachers earn $125,000 a year — plus an annual bonus worth up to $25,000 — at a New York City charter school, reports 60 Minutes. If they don’t excel, they can be fired.  “What we are trying to do is build a school where every teacher is a great teacher,” says Zeke Vanderhoek, founder of The Equity Project school in a low-income Manhattan neighborhood.

In its second year, the school enrolls fifth and sixth graders. Most students come from low-income families; more than two thirds are reading below grade level.

“The difference between a great teacher and a mediocre or poor teacher is several grade levels of achievement,” says Vanderhoek. “A school that focuses all of its energy and resources on fantastic teaching can bridge the achievement gap.”

The school’s first class scored below the district and state average last year.  Vanderhoek replaced some teachers. If the school doesn’t achieve excellence in four years, “then I shouldn’t keep my job,” Vanderhoek tells Couric.

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  1. District 6 is 89% Hispanic and 8% African American. A whopping 85% of the students are free-lunch eligible, and 4% are reduced-price eligible. About 19% of the district qualifies for special education services, and 36% are ELL.

    Equity is 18% Hispanic and 77% African American. Only 50% of the students are free-lunch eligible, and 21% are reduced-price eligible. 23% are special education students and a mere 3% are English language learners.

    I’d start with firing the English teachers who produced such dismal results and spending a whole lot more on community outreach to better serve their district. Because we all know that charters warmly welcome English language learners.

  2. He dismissed some teachers after the first year, then argued to Katie Couric that he “needs time to show progress,” so if no improvement happens “after four or five years” he should be gone. Double standard?

    He also boosted pay simply by getting rid of support staff – so the teachers do more for the money. Getting rid of a reading recovery teacher in a school like this doesn’t seem like very effective administration to me.

  3. There’s already a double standard.

    Charters can, and occasionally do, close. District schools? As long as the population’s there so are the kids regardless of how awful the school is.