Putting most of the school money into teachers’ pockets

A charter school in New York city will open in 2009, promising to pay teachers $125,000 in annual salary, plus possible bonuses. No, it’s not a school for the outrageously wealthy families. In fact, the school will only use public money and charter school grants. So, what gives? The teachers will be asked to work longer days and throughout the year. They will also fill in on “other” traditionally non-teacher roles in school, such as attendance coordinators or discipline deans.
In the words of the school creator and first principal, Zeke M. Vanderhoek, “I would much rather put a phenomenal, great teacher in a field with 30 kids and nothing else than take the mediocre teacher and give them half the number of students and give them all the technology in the world.”

Now that’s thinking outside the box. Vanderhoek, a Yale graduate, put a budget together that allows for such high teachers’ salaries, meaning there will definitely be skimping elsewhere. I applaud such innovative thinking in trying to improve our education system. So, is it the teachers, or technologies and class sizes that most impact successful learning by students? I’m sure it’s a combination of all, but this “experiment” will give us a lot of answers to the correlation between teacher’s pay and effective teaching.

In the business world if people would ask me whether I’d start a company with talented people or all the technology in the world, the answer seems obvious. I would like both, but would definitely start with talented people.