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How a Poet Inspired 1,000 People to Become Teachers

In 2000 slam poet Taylor Mali set a goal of inspiring 1,000 people to become teachers. This month, he reached it.

New York City-based slam poet and former teacher Taylor Mali is well-known as a vocal advocate for educators. With more than 6 million YouTube views, his poem "What Teachers Make" is the ultimate comeback to people who disrespect those who dedicate their lives to students. But since Mali left the classroom to perform and lecture to a global audience 12 years ago, he's done more than lyrically defend his colleagues' hard work.

In 2000, Mali launched the New Teacher Project, an effort to use "poetry, persuasion, and perseverance" to inspire 1,000 people to become educators. Mali asked people fill out a form on his site if they became teachers after hearing him speak or perform. When he started the project, he had no idea how long it would take to reach the goal but guessed he might accomplish it by 2006. "I failed," he says.

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Why Teachers in High-Minority Schools Are Paid Less

Federal data shows that teachers in minority schools are being paid $2,500 less than teachers working in whiter areas. Here's why.


Plenty of headlines popped up this week about a new analysis of the U.S. Department of Education's 2009-2010 Civil Rights Data Collection, which revealed that the average teacher working in a school serving Latino and black populations is being paid nearly $2,500 less per year than the average teacher working at a school in a whiter neighborhood. That’s a disturbing piece of data, but are these teachers deliberately being paid a lower salary?

In most places, teacher-district contracts include agreed-upon salary schedules that are binding regardless of where in a district an educator works. For example, a first-year math teacher working in Watts, a predominantly black and Latino section of Los Angeles, earns the same salary as a teacher working in the less diverse west San Fernando Valley.

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Are Teachers Overpaid? One Educator Says Yes

What $1,800-per-month paychecks? D.C. teacher Michael Bromley says his peers should stop complaining because they're actually making too much money.

When I hang out with my friends who are teachers, I always offer to pay for whatever it is we're doing. I've been in their shoes so I know they're not exactly rolling in dough. Even U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently said that teacher salaries should start at $60,000 and educators should have the opportunity to earn up to $150,000 in merit pay.

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