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One of my roommates brought home a copy of Fortune‘s “100 Best Companies to Work For” issue. Shockingly, when I looked over the list which included companies like Google, Zappos and the Mayo Clinic, there was no mention of the New York City Department of Education. How could this be? We might not have on-site wine bars like one of the companies listed, but we get to shape America’s future. How does that opportunity not make the cut?

In all seriousness, I’d be curious to know how Fortune would assess the prospects of working for the NYC DOE. It would be ridiculous to knock teaching for a lack of flashy perks like life coaches, on-site gyms, or paid sabbaticals. Still, the NYC DOE falls short in one very real and significant way. All of the companies on Fortune’s list are hiring. Meanwhile, the NYC DOE and school districts across the country will be laying off thousands of teachers by the end of this year. At a time when we need the best and brightest to consider education an option, this doesn’t make teaching very appealing.

Hiring and retaining quality teachers is one of the fundamental components to fixing our schools. Education as a profession may not be able to offer the same money or incentives as the companies on Fortune‘s list, but there is a lot schools and the DOE can do to attract and keep the best teachers possible. Here are a few ideas inspired by Fortune‘s list:

  • Better starting salary. This is a no-brainer.
  • Use the incoming 4-tier evaluation system to reward excellence in the classroom.
  • If layoffs are necessary, start with the teachers rated Unsatisfactory, instead of the teachers you just hired.
  • According to the blurb of Zappos.com, besides having a life coach on hand, one of the company’s guiding tenets is “create fun and a little weirdness.” Meaningful and productive creativity should be just as encouraged in teaching.
  • More diversity. Arne Duncan and Spike Lee called for it on Monday. Edward Jones, Fortune’s #11 got a shout out for making diversity a priority through a recruitment program. Where’s the DOE on this?
  • Wi-fi enabled shuttle service. Okay, it might be tough to copy this perk of Microsoft’s, but after the last few days of weather, I can dream, right?

What ideas would you add to the list?

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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