So, I watched Katie Couric's 60 Minutes segment about The Equity Project (TEP) charter in New York City. It was all wine and roses school reform, with 34-year-old principal Keith Vanderhoek walking and talking with the swagger of a man who knows what he's doing:? he pays teachers $125,000 -- yes, a great wage --?by cutting costs elsewhere (the school is housed in trailers), having no tenure ? the teachers don't even get a contract ? and by laying off?teachers?when they aren't performing.? So, it was somewhat sad, at the end, when Couric says,
But is the model working? When the fifth graders took the New York State math and reading exams, the results were disappointing. On average, other schools in the district scored better than TEP.? Some people watching this might be thinking, "Hey, they're paying teachers $125,000 a year. They've attracted the best and the brightest. These results don't really add up."
The camera cut back to Vanderhoek and to my eyes I saw the previously self-assured and articulate young man look as if the blood had drained from his face. I thought I saw sweat.?
"We don't have a magic wand,? he said,?a bit?defensively. ?We're not gonna take kids who are scoring below grade level and bring them up in a year."?
Part of the shock here, of course, was that the piece had seemed so sympathetic to what TEP was trying to do -- even the teacher who was dismissed said...