Do higher teacher salaries lead to better schools and better student performance? That‘s a question that has fixated much of the nation over the past two decades. It’s a difficult question to answer and so far the research hasn’t helped much. The results are mixed. Next year a new charter school in New York City will begin an experiment to help answer that question. The new school will pay teachers $125,000 plus a bonus based on school performance. Zeke Vanderhoek, the founder and principal of the new school is betting that high quality teachers is the most important ingredient to a successful school. Teachers at Vanderhoek’s school will have classes of 30 students, slightly larger than the average public school class. To make ends meet, Vanderhoek’s school will have no assistant principals, only one social worker and will also try to limit expenditures on technology and other frills.
Vanderhoek’s school turns the traditional model on its head. Teachers are on the top of the pyramid, even higher than the principal. Mr. Vanderhoek, will be the new school principal. He will be paid $90,000. North Carolinians should watch this experiment with interest. It offers the chance to see what can be done when schools are freed from layers of cumbersome bureaucracy and not saddled by cumbersome pay plans. More later.