Billionaire uses own funds to increase teachers wages

By Kate Hassett

Billionaire uses own funds to increase teachers wages
This billionaire doesn't think teachers earn enough so he wants to give them a $15,000 raise.

Labelled the world’s smartest billionaire by the Financial Times, Jim Simons, is the 76th wealthiest person in the world, with his hedge fund allegedly worth over $22 billion.

To say he did it all himself though, would be a lie. When he started his hedge fund in the early 1980’s Simons decided to approach things a little differently. Instead of employing a string of finance experts, he decided to use mathematicians and scientists to create algorithms to model the behaviour of the markets – therefore determining the best investment strategy.

In 2003, Simons decided to give something back to an industry that gave so much to him. So, using a portion of his profits, Simons decided to increase the salaries of math and science teachers, all around New York, by $15,000 every year.

Math for America now currently pays over 1000 amazing teachers the bonus every single year.

“Instead of beating up the bad teachers, which has created morale problems all through the educational community, in particular in math and science, we focus on celebrating the good ones,” Simons said in a recent TED interview.

Each teacher is invited to apply annually for the bonus. Teachers are then selected on their strong backgrounds in their content area, teaching skills and empathy for students – not on their test scores.

When they are accepted, their payments are made in 4 year rounds, after which they are invited to reapply.

It is common knowledge that teachers salaries in no way reflect the amazing work they do on a day to day basis, but Math for America, is hoping to change that.

Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images.
Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images.

“It’s hard right now to be really excited to be a teacher nationally,” Megan Roberts, executive director of Math for America, told Upworthy. “We really think that, especially in STEM, our role is that we really want to value excellence in teaching and we want to do everything we can to keep teachers in the classroom.”

“I hear people say all the time, ‘Oh, he’s just a teacher.’ Or, ‘I’m teaching now, until I do something else,'” Roberts said. “So nationally, the conversation across the country has always been that it’s either a field where people go to if they can’t do something else, or it’s something they do as a pathway to something else.”

“Teaching is enough. It’s more than enough.”

Simons is hoping that Math for America’s initiative will inspire a global conversation about the need for teachers to be paid what they are worth.

Would you like to see this initiative in your city? Do you think teachers should be paid more?



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