Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The $2 Million Teacher

Teachers Pay Teachers lets educators reassert their professionalism—and earn big bucks

When Paul Edelman was working as a middle school teacher in New York City during the early '00s, his school gave him none of the lesson plans, handouts, and workbooks necessary for running a classroom. "When school ended at 3 p.m., it was really just the beginning of my workday," says Edelman. He says his first year was "brutal," and his second and third years were only marginally better.

Edelman's experience is hardly unique; many young teachers burn out in part because their schools expect them to generate all of their own materials. "I cried every night," says former teacher Amy Berner. "Every night you sit down and think, 'I am completely unprepared for tomorrow.'"

Out of such pain came an idea: "What if we could create a vast repository of resources that already worked for other teachers," he asks, "juiced with free market forces?"

In 2006, Edelman started Teachers Pay Teachers, an online marketplace for educators to sell digital copies of their classroom materials to each other for small amounts of money. "It's booming," says Berner, the company's head of community and editorial. Gross sales ballooned from $900,000 in 2010 to $44 million in 2013, and so far teachers have earned nearly $48 million on the site. There are more than one million products to choose from, including lesson plans, worksheets, flash cards, PowerPoint presentations, games, quizzes, graphic organizers, bulletin board ideas, and parent guides. And the materials are built by real teachers, so they tend to be perfectly tailored to classroom use.

Edelman says that requiring educators to produce their own classroom materials has its benefits. "I like that teachers in the U.S. have the freedom to create and teach the way they teach best," he says. Despite feeling overworked and underprepared, Edelman says that he was still grateful as a teacher not to have "a nationalized and controlled curriculum," as many other countries do. Teachers Pay Teachers offers the best of both worlds because educators don't have to spend all their free time generating materials from scratch, but they still get to pick what's best for their students—and can tailor the material however they see fit.

For teachers, whose compensation generally reflects not their talent and drive but the number of years they've served in the classroom, Teachers Pay Teachers brings a refreshing dose of market incentives. More than 1,300 teachers have earned at least $5,000 selling their materials through the company, and 164 have earned more than $50,000.

The site's breakout star and top seller is a kindergarten teacher in Macon, Georgia, named Deanna Jump. By selling activities and lesson plans, such as Guided Reading 101: Printables, Strategies and Word Work ($8) and Insects Math and Literacy Fun ($6.80), along with 145 other products, Jump has earned more than $2 million on Teachers Pay Teachers. With her wholesome good looks and exceptional talent as a teacher and curriculum author, Jump makes for an ideal public face. And she hasn't changed with her newfound wealth: Jump still teaches, and the first thing she did after the money started rolling in was purchase a handicap-accessible van for her quadriplegic brother.

At a time when teachers are being judged by central bureaucracies based on how their students perform on high-stakes tests, and union contracts enforce absurd work rules and lockstep pay increases, Teachers Pay Teachers offers educators the dignity of being treated like professionals. "It's like, 'I'm actually being respected for the expert that I am,'" says Berner. "Calling it a revolution in education I don't think is overstating it."


UK: Christians lie and wives must have sex or go to hell, Trojan Horse pupils told

 Children were taught that all Christians are liars and attempts were made to introduce Sharia law in classrooms as part of an alleged 'Trojan Horse' takeover plot of Birmingham schools, an inquiry has found.

The inquiry commissioned by Birmingham City Council found evidence of religious extremism in 13 schools as school governors and teachers tried to promote and enforce radical Islamic values.

Schools put up posters warning children that if they didn't pray they would "go to hell", Christmas was cancelled and girls were taught that women who refused to have sex with their husbands would be "punished" by angels "from dusk to dawn".

The report found that the extremism went unchecked because the council "disastrously" prioritised community cohesion over "doing what is right".

It concluded that there was a "determined effort" by "manipulative" governors to introduce "unacceptable" practices, "undermine" head teachers and deny students a broad and balanced education.

Sir Albert Bore, Birmingham's leader, apologised for the council's handling of the scandal.

He said: "The actions of a few, including some within the council, have undermined the reputation of our great city.

"We have previously shied away from tackling this problem out of a misguided fear of being accused of racism."

A separate review by Peter Clarke, the former counter-terrorism chief, found evidence of "co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained" attempts to introduce an "intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos" in schools.

The review, which was commissioned by the Department for Education, found that the schools were trying to impose "segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline and politicised strain Sunni Islam".

Birmingham City Council's report found no evidence of a "conspiracy" to promote "violent extremism or radicalisation" values, but was still highly critical.

A detailed summary of evidence suggested that there was an attempt to introduce Sharia law at the Al-Fuqan school, and when a woman was recommended for a job on individual suggested a "man with a beard" was needed.

At the Golden Hillock School a teacher allegedly told children at an assembley "not to listen to Christians as they were all liars". The incident was referred to counter-terrorism police. One teacher at the school also reportedly told children they were "lucky to be Muslims and not ignorant like Christians and Jews."

At Nansen School the study of French was replaced by the study of Arabic and Islamic religious assemblies were reinstated. Christmas and Diwali celebrations were councils, and children were not allowed to use a doll to represent Jesus in a nativity play. A total of 28 female teaching assistants were dismissed.

At the Oldknow academy, children were told at an assembly that they should not send Christmas cards and that Mary was not the mother of Jesus. Children were asked whether they believed in Christmas and encouraged to chant "no we don't".

At the Park View Academy children were taught that "if a woman said no to sex with her husband then angels would punish her from dusk till dawn". Girls were taught that a "good" Muslim woman wears a hijab and ties up her hair.


Britain needs new generation of grammar schools, sacked minister says

David Cameron is facing a rebellion over grammar schools as part of a growing backlash in the wake of his reshuffle.

Damian Green, the sacked Home Office minister, said that he is concerned that the topic of grammar schools has become "taboo" for the Conservatives.

He told The Telegraph that he will enlist the support of fellow MPs in the run up to the General Election as he makes the case for building a new generation of grammar schools across Britain.

Mr Green said: "One of the things I intend is to make the case for grammar schools. I went to a grammar school, I am in favour of them, but they have become a taboo.

"I believe that we need to provide an excellent educations across the spectrum, including taking the brightest children pushing them to succeed. They are a route of opportunity rather than a manifestation of privilege."

Mr Cameron is also facing criticism from two influential Conservative MPs over Europe and human rights in the run up to May 2015.

Owen Paterson, who was last week fired as environment secretary, is expected to join forces with Liam Fox, who rejected a junior ministerial post he found demeaning.

The pair are expected to put pressure on Mr Cameron to provide more details over the powers that he will repatriate from Brussels.

One sacked minister said: "They have alienated Liam and Owen, they could live to regret it."

According to reports, Mr Paterson had a "blazing row" with Mr Cameron on Monday night over the decision to remove him in the reshuffle.

Mr Paterson's wife, Rose, later confronted Lynton Crosby, the Tory strategist, and demanded to know why her husband had been sacked.

The former Environment Secretary believes that the decision to axe him will push rural voters into the hands of Ukip.

Mr Fox, who until the reshuffle was tipped as a new foreign secretary, said it was "incredibly naive" to imagine that Britain will win concessions from Jean-Claude Juncker, the new President of the European Commission.

In the wake of the reshuffle, Mr Green is considering restarting the parliamentary friends of grammar schools, which was previously run by Graham Brady, who is now chairman of the back-bench 1922 committee.

There are just 164 grammar schools left in England and 69 in Northern Ireland — down from just under 1,300 under the system’s peak in 1965. The law prevents any more from being built.

Mr Cameron, who was educated at Eton, triggered a furious row within the Conservative party in 2007 after ruling out an expansion of grammar schools, saying parents do not want their children “divided into sheep and goats at the age of 11”.


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