Yesterday the Boston Globe wrote an attempt at a "gotcha-piece" about the salaries of Boston Charter School leaders — and of course the anti-charter crowd, eager for some red meat attempted to use this as some kind of evidence of … I’m not even sure what exactly.
Interestingly enough, there hasn’t been a piece in the Boston Globe about the amounts paid to principals and teachers in failing Boston Public Schools. Apparently getting paid nearly $120k a year in a school that is barely teaching kids how to read is "justice" but paying people to run schools that have actually figured out how to educate black and brown children is HORRIFYING. More on that in a minute.
The first problem in the article is the fact that they fail to adequately describe the work of "charter leaders" leading readers to assume they are some kind of "fancy principal." They’re not. Actually, the job of the head of a charter school is a hell of a lot more complicated, requiring many more additional hats than a school principal. A better equivalent would be to that of a superintendent — PLUS master fundraiser. Let’s not forget that charter schools actually HAVE TO fundraiser to pay for their buildings and have no access to the Massachusetts School Building Authority. Anything extra they want? Gotta fundraise.
Of course, the anti-charter crowd immediately clamored to attack the charter leaders as if they are some kind of corporate fat-cats who are looking under every rock for ways to exploit they system to line their pockets.
The thing is, I’d be with you on questioning the amount they bring home every year, save for the fact that these are the only people who seem to be actually doing a decent job of getting it done for our kids.
Anti-charter folks love talking about ANYTHING other than STUDENT OUTCOMES. And even when you can get them to talk about student outcomes, they often look for any excuse as to why the outcomes aren’t good enough. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of children sit in failing district schools while these same folks look the other way. As long as the adults running the school are being paid what these anti-charter folks feel is fair, it doesn’t really matter whether they produce anything for kids. And that’s justice apparently.
Back to the article itself, given my position with the ballot campaign to increase the number of charter schools in Massachusetts last year, I actually have the unique privilege of knowing many of the folks mentioned in the article — and some of them are dear friends. These people are devoted educators and teachers who embarked on this journey of educational innovation not because it was the easiest road — but instead because they believe a better way is possible — and kids are worth it. I’ve seen these folks start their days at 6:15 am and still be on the grind at 11:30 pm — while juggling their own young families — you know, like most folks passionate about trying to change the world.
What really caught my eye is the singling out Jon Clark of the Brooke Charter Schools. The article points out that he makes $170,000 a year as the co-director of the Brooke system. And make no mistake, Brooke is multiple schools, in multiple locations, educating some of the most challenging socio-economic demographics in Boston.
(Here’s a picture of Jon that I stole from the 74. Sorry, Romy.)
He’ll probably kill me, but here’s the truth: Jon is a sweetheart of a guy. He is one of the smartest and most thoughtful education leaders I’ve ever had the pleasure of working alongside and his soft-spoken manner reveals a quiet but powerful passion for children. Jon knows his students, he fights for them and desperately wants to see them succeed. I also have great respect for Jon for his drive to collaborate — as a leader in the Boston Compact working with district, charter and private schools to work together on best practices and share ideas. And frankly, more schools should be listening to the guy who is able to do something like this:
But let’s play the game for a minute, shall we?
If we want to compare Jon — who leads Brooke East Boston (among other schools — pick whatever one you want) — to say, Leah Blake McKetty, who leads the ONE Winthrop School in Dorchester, let’s see how much bang we’re getting for our buck.
Leah Blake McKetty – Annual Salary – $130,728.07 – according to the Boston Herald.
Jon Clark – Annual Salary – $170,000 – according to the Boston Globe.
In addition to Leah’s salary at $130k, let’s take a look at how much the teachers are making: (Images courtesy of the Boston Herald’s Public Records Database on the Winthrop School – see for yourself here.)
16 out of the 24 teachers on this list make more than $95,000 a year.
11 of them make over $100,000 a year.
With that kind of investment in educators, we should be seeing AMAZING RESULTS, right? The Boston Teachers Union is always telling us that the salaries being made by BPS teachers for 180 days of teaching (with 20 days of PTO per year) is an INSULT — but these folks seem to be doing REALLY WELL.
So — what do the results for our kids look like? I’m the mother of three little Latino boys — and this school is 43% Latino.
Let’s check the MPU Parent Report Card:
For those playing along at home, for Latino little boys like mine, the Winthrop school underperforms by double digits in ELA, Math AND science — and frankly, that’s just when compared to the Boston Public Schools average.
In comparison, here’s how Jon is doing — in a school with slightly more Latino children (56%):
Are you kidding me right now?
From what I can see, Jon Clark would be a bargain at $270,000 for what he’s able to do for children in Boston — and this is just one slice of the data. Instead of beating the crap out of the guy in the Globe, why not take him up on his offer of collaboration and start figuring out how to spread the Brooke magic to every school in Boston?
And here’s another refreshing idea: instead of beating up on the schools that are working to figure out how to end the achievement gap, why not get real about what’s happening in your own school system?
What do you think?