A new charter school in New York City is opening its doors with a hefty bet on the quality of its teachers. The Equity Project Charter School (founded by TFA alum and founder of the uber successful Manhattan GMAT, Zeke Vanderhoek) plans to pay its teachers an annual salary of $125,000 and up to $25,000 in yearly bonuses based on school performance. That's more than twice the salary of the average NYC teacher and more than senior teachers virtually anywhere in the country make.
Just how will Equity Charter pull this off? In a cost analysis in its charter application, TEP estimates an annual savings of $1.8 million over the average New York City school--though it's a savings that comes by cutting out support staff positions, including assistant principals, custodians, curriculum specialists, and teacher aides. To really throw things for a loop, and show just how serious they are about teacher quality, principals will earn less--$35K less--than teachers.
Teachers will be hired through a rigorous application process: in addition to interviews, applicants must submit evidence attesting to their students' achievement and their own academic prowess; only those scoring at the 90th percentile in the verbal section of the GRE, GMAT or similar tests need apply. The process will culminate in three live teaching auditions.
Says Vanderhook, "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."