[Note: This is an April Fools post!]
The DC Public School system has come up with an innovative new program to lure highly rated teachers to struggling schools.
Teachers rated “highly effective” under DCPS’s teacher evaluation system are clustered in schools in affluent Ward 3. For years, DCPS has been offering highly rated teachers bonuses of up to $20,000 to induce them to teach in high-poverty schools, where teachers who receive the system’s top rating are far less numerous. But it hasn’t worked.
Now, under pressure from the federal government to come up with a plan to spread highly qualified teachers more evenly throughout the system, DCPS is planning to sweeten the deal.
“We understand that money alone doesn’t motivate great teachers,” said Edward Klotz, head of a new DCPS initiative called Supporting Highly Effective Education Professionals (SHEEP). “Working conditions are really important to them too. So, starting next school year we’ll be offering our highly effective educators a range of amenities if they’re willing to transfer to a high-needs environment.”
Among those perks is a concierge service that will perform tasks busy teachers simply don’t have time for, such as dropping off and picking up dry cleaning or getting a car inspected.
In addition, highly rated teachers who agree to switch to a struggling school located more than a quarter of a mile from a Metro stop will be eligible for free transportation via chauffeur-driven limousine, although Klotz cautioned that budget constraints might mean several teachers would need to share one limo.
Perhaps most enticing, teachers who agree to the plan will have access to a special teachers’ lounge offering the kinds of perks you might find in Silicon Valley.
Each lounge will include a ping pong table, state-of-the-art exercise equipment, showers, and a private room where stress-relieving massages will be available for a nominal fee. Teachers will also be able to enjoy complimentary healthful snacks and Starbucks beverages prepared by a trained barista.
“We know how crucial it is for teachers to remain highly caffeinated,” Klotz said. “This way, they won’t have to leave the building for their double soy vanilla lattes.”
But bold as the plan is, it’s still far from clear that SHEEP will be any more effective in herding highly effective teachers to high-poverty schools than previous efforts have been.
“It’s tempting,” said Catherine McManus, a history teacher at Wilson High School in Ward 3. “I mean, the free Starbucks alone would save me probably a couple thousand a year. And there are days when I’d really kill for a quick massage. But the catch is, you have to keep getting the highly effective rating once you switch schools. And from what I’ve heard, that’s pretty much impossible.”
McManus said there might be one way DCPS could get her to switch to a low-performing school. “If they let me bring my AP History students with me,” she said, “then we could talk.”