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Recruiting begins for "master" and "turnaround" teachers

Let the transforming begin. The city has sent out letters encouraging teachers to apply for new positions that offer large annual bonuses in return for putting in more hours at struggling schools.

As part of a performance pay deal struck between the city teachers union and the Department of Education, these “master” and “turnaround” teacher positions will only be offered to exemplary teachers who want to serve as role models for their colleagues. The idea is for the teachers to help with curriculum-writing and to perform model lessons for their colleagues. But experience isn’t the main qualifier; applicants only have to have completed one year of teaching.

In exchange for the extra work — which is expected to take 30 hours each year — turnaround teachers get bonuses of 15 percent of their salaries. Master teachers work an extra 100 hours and get bonuses of 30 percent.

In order to stay in the three-year program, teachers have to maintain a “highly effective” rating each year. It’s a bit of a gamble for them: if the experiment fails and the city decides to close the struggling schools, these teachers will have no right to return to their current schools.

The jobs are only being offered to teachers with certain licenses and in only eleven schools. Teachers licensed in math, science, social studies, English, special education, and English as a Second Language can apply for the jobs.

Teachers who apply to be turnaround or master teachers in September have to submit their applications by the end of next week. Then they’ll be vetted by a committee composed of four teachers union representatives and two Department of Education employees. Piloting the new teacher evaluation system, the committee will rate teachers, with 40 percent of the evaluation based on their students’ test scores and 60 percent on performance reviews, attendance, and other factors.

Once they’re vetted by the committee, the teachers will interview with principals, who can hire them as they normally would for the new school year.

The eleven schools that can hire these teachers were chosen by the DOE for the “transformation” model — one of four turnaround strategies promoted by the federal government and paid for with federal grants. The grant money allows the city to cover the new bonuses, as well as support programs and longer school days.

All the schools are advertising their open positions on the DOE’s website and while some are looking to fill eight vacancies, others will only hire one master or turnaround teacher for next year.

Currently, Queens Vocational and Technical High School is advertising at least eight open positions (four master, four turnaround), while Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School is only looking for a special education master teacher.

The 11 schools selected for transformation are:

Automotive High School
Bread & Roses Integrated Arts High School
Brooklyn School for Global Studies
Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School
Cobble Hill School of American Studies
Flushing High School
Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School
Long Island City High School
Queens Vocational and Technical High School
Unity Center for Urban Technologies
William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School

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