Friday, April 01, 2011

NYC charter school's $125,000 experiment

Speaking of paying teachers more, 60 Minutes did a segment last night on The Equity Project, a charter school in the Bronx that I visited a year ago (see photos at:, which is known for paying its teachers $125,000/year.  You can watch the segment here,, and below is the transcript.

With state after state confronting massive budget problems, several governors have been looking to extract whatever they can from public employees like teachers, going after benefits packages and guaranteed job security that unions have won for them. But would teachers be willing to give up those protections for a chance to earn a lot more money?

There's a school in New York City that's trying to prove just that. It's a bold new experiment in public education called "TEP," which stands for The Equity Project, a charter school that is publicly funded but privately run. It's offering its teachers $125,000 a year - more than double the national average.

TEP aims to prove that attracting the best and brightest teachers and holding them accountable for results is the essential ingredient to a school's success. Could this school become a national model for the future of public education? That's the $125,000 question.

"You pay your teachers $125,000 a year, which is a lot of money for a teacher in this country. Why?" Katie Couric asked Zeke Vanderhoek, the school's founder and principal.

"Because they're worth it, because teachers are the key, and if we can pay them this with the existing dollars, why aren't we doing it?" he replied.

They're doing it at TEP because Vanderhoek, 34, a former teacher, gets to decide who he hires and how much he pays them.

Asked how he thinks these high salaries will impact student achievement, Vanderhoek told Couric, "I don't think paying people more makes them a better teacher. You take a mediocre teacher, you double their salary, nothing's gonna change. So, if you wanna attract and retain talent, you have to pay for it. "

"And that is ultimately how student achievement will be impacted," he added.

For more on The Equity Project, here are links to three NYT articles about the school: a) March 2008:; b) June 2009:, and c) and an interview in March 2008 with TEP's founder, Zeke Vanderhoek:


March 10, 2011

NYC charter school's $125,000 experiment

Does a non-unionized school that pays teachers a higher salary get better results?

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