I watched an interesting piece on 60 Minutes this evening on a charter school in New York that offers no tenure, holds high expectations for their teachers, but in return pays them $125,000 per year. Basically, they attempt to attract the most talented and committed teachers in the field, hold their ‘feet to the fire’ and expect that in return students will benefit.
TEP Charter School in New York which opened in the fall of 2009 primarily serves low-income, minority students and believing that the teacher is the greatest predictor of success is putting their money where their mouth is. According to the principal of the school, they operate solely on tax dollars just like any other public educational institution, but they have reallocated their dollars. However, I did note on their website they are inviting outside donations.
Instead of hiring reading specialists, instructional coaches, building state-of-the-art facilities etc. they have put more money into teacher salaries and correspondingly expect more from their teachers. Teachers actually ‘try out’ for their position when they apply. Once hired, they undergo continuous evaluation from administration as well as practice ongoing, collaborative evaluation of each other.
Evaluation criteria includes such things as evidence that students have improved under the direction of the teacher, student engagement (apparently defined as on-task behaviors) and the ability to promote and maintain an orderly learning environment conducive to learning.
I’m wondering how many educators would give up tenure in exchange for a high salary and a collegial but demanding work environment.