Tuesday, May 04, 2010

What Would You Do for $125K a Year?

I've been helping a friend look for a new position for next school year. While looking this eve, I came across the website of The Equity Project (TEP) Charter School. At first, well, what's not to like? They pay their teachers $125K a year. Yes, you read that right. $125K a year. I had to admit that I was interested in seeing what kind of workload they thought was worth $125K a year.

It's...well, it's intense, to say the least. This is "a day in the life of a typical TEP teacher." And this is a typical work year. And working at TEP also includes a mandatory unpaid sabbatical every four to five years. (Click all the links before you continue; they're worthwhile reading.)




You know, as much as I (genuinely) love the idea of having more planning time built into the school day, I'm not sure that 1 hour/week of whole school planning time, 45 minutes/day of partner planning time, and 6 weeks (!) of whole school planning/development in the summer isn't just the tiniest bit of overkill. I could see how it would be really helpful for new teachers, or for a school that is in really dire straits for some reason. But if this is a stable, well-functioning school, I have to ask...WHAT ARE YOU DOING with all that time? What are you still trying to figure out? And I suppose all that is mandatory, not "Here is some staff development we're offering, maybe some of it will be helpful for you," that kind of thing?

This is me reacting, mostly, and maybe being a little reactionary. I'm not totally averse to messing around with the school day and year as we know it. I'm really interested in the Generation Schools model, for example, and I think my, uh, friend might like to teach someplace like that. And I think we all know here that any decent teacher is putting in time, usually lots of it, outside the school day--grading, planning, gathering resources, researching, whatever to make the actual school day itself better for his or her colleagues or students. All fine.

But as someone who'd like to be a parent someday, and has always envisioned herself with these pesky interior lives and social lives and family lives, I have to confess that I don't think I've got what it takes to join up with TEP. God bless the ones who do, I suppose, and maybe I'm wrong that this is an unsustainable model. Maybe some people can do 9- or 10-hour official work days followed by another couple of hours of travel and other stuff. And maybe all of TEP's students are going to go on to cure cancer and write Pulitzer Prize winning novels, and I'll just be one more lazy unionized public school teacher standing in the way of real reform.

I suppose we'll see. But I'll watch, with my friend, from a distance, I think.
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