If I Had a Magic Wand
High Salaries! Starting salary for teachers should be $125,000. It is already being done! A charter school called The Equity Project in northern Manhattan pays teachers a starting salary of $125,000. Currently, a starting teacher’s salary is $45,530. The average rent for a NYC one-bedroom is $3,100. When teachers can afford a trip to the beach and college tuition for their kids, they will feel happier. And, in turn, their students will be happier. The phrase, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” is a thousand times truer in a classroom. Higher salaries will also encourage a wider variety of people to join the field.
2. Integration! New York City is approximately 50% white, 20% black, 20% Latino and 10% Asian. Every school should have this demographic phasing in with next year's kindergarten. The government should mandate this change. Integration is one of the best weapons to fight poverty.
3. Faculty Transfers! All schools should transfer half of their faculties to other schools. Failing schools and successful schools need to exchange faculties. At the moment, the faculties in failing schools need the support and influence of teachers at more successful schools.
Each school will have a mentor roaming the halls and classrooms who will do the job that principals used to have time to do, provide enrichment and support good practice. Mentors will move to another school midway through the year and another mentor will take over. See my blog post for more details.
5. Bring in the Artists! New York City has gathered together the most talented, underemployed creative people on the planet. Pay painters, sculptors, actors, poets, writers and dancers to invigorate the learning process with projects of all sorts. The 520 students I teach each week do not have art or music classes. With creative people, the sky’s the limit!