How to reward good teachers -- and punish the bad -- is one of the most fraught issues in education. But now talented teachers can earn a bonus without going through unions or principals or politicians. On TeachersPayTeachers.com, they can sell their lesson plans, worksheets and quizzes for a few dollars -- dollars that can add up, at least in one case, to over a million.
Deanna Jump, a first-grade teacher from central Georgia, is TeachersPayTeachers' first millionaire, reports CNN. Big money certainly wasn't the reason Jump got into teaching 17 years ago. "Like probably 90 percent of the teachers in America, I was juggling bills," she told CNN. "Like, 'OK, I can pay the electricity bill this week, and I've got seven more days before they turn off the water.' "
Then three years ago, Jump joined TeachersPayTeachers. Since then, she's posted 60 items, including the best-selling gingerbread-man-themed activity packet, and amassed almost 18,000 followers. Many of her resources are free to download, and most cost less than $10. But with over 160,000 sales, the mother of three and grandmother of two has found herself snugly in the "1 percent."
TeachersPayTeachers is one of several start-ups transforming the teaching profession, reports TechCrunch. New edtech platforms not only help teachers collaborate; they also allow teachers to reward their especially innovative or hard-working colleagues. Kindergarten teachers "don't have the kinds of textbooks and materials available for grade-level teachers," Jump told San Francisco public TV station KQED last year, when her earnings were still in the six digits. "So I began creating my own."
Many teachers are struggling on their current salaries (an average of $55,000 a year, according to Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers), taking on second jobs to pay the bills. According to a controversial report from the right-leaning Heritage Foundation, however, teachers are actually overpaid, because when they transition to the private sector, they usually take a pay cut.
But as Jump proves, teachers can win big in the free market. After all, 2.7 million Americans teach kindergarten through high school, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And that's a lot of potential customers.
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