Will $125,000 Save American Education?

Zeke Vanderhoek will start one of the most progressive secondary education projects in American history in two months. His mandate: create a model of educational excellence for promising low-income students taught by (very) well-remunerated teachers.

Principal Vanderhoek sought out master educators for his 480-student middle school, The Equity Project, set to open in September in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan.


Teachers will be paid $125,000 a year, nearly quadruple the average New York City public school teacher salary.

Though it sounds like it could only be the the pet project of an altruistic philanthropist, Vanderhoek stressed that the Equity Project is no different from other city charter schools in their funding allocation.

"We do this on the public dollar," Vanderhoek said in a conversation with Big Think today. "We actually get less money than a traditional public charter school in New York City."

Though heralded in its advance billing, The Equity Project is not a guaranteed utopia and has had to make sacrifices to invest in its teachers.

Class sizes will stay the city norm of 30 students; many administrative duties will be assumed by teachers; and there will be no summer vacation.

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