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A wealthy Silicon Valley investor was lambasted for his privilege after placing an ad on social media in search of the “best teacher in the Bay Area” to educate his kids at a ‘micro-school’ as California learning centers remain shuttered due to coronavirus.
Angel financier Jason Calacanis, 49, who has put money into start-ups like Uber and Robinhood, posted that he was looking for “the best 4th to 6th grade teacher” and offered the prospective candidate a salary that would “beat whatever they are getting paid.”
In addition, Calacanis threw in a $2,000 UberEats gift card as a finder’s fee.
“Looking for the best 4-6th grade teacher in Bay Area who wants a 10-year contract, that will beat whatever they are getting paid, to teach 2-7 students in my back yard,” Calacanis wrote on Twitter.
Looking for the best 4-6th grade teacher in Bay Area who wants a 1-year contract, that will beat whatever they are getting paid, to teach 2-7 students in my back yard#microschool
If you know this teacher, refer them & we hire them, I will give you a $2k UberEats gift card
“If you know this teacher, refer them & we hire them, I will give you a $2k UberEats gift card,” Calacanis wrote, adding the hashtag “#microschool.”
Calacanis also offered “scholarships” to some Bay Area children whose parents could not afford to hire their own educators.
“We are offering 100% scholarships for folks who can’t afford to chip in. If you live in the bay and are in the 4th or 5th grade we will take applications based on merit,” Calacanis added in a second tweet.
We are offering 100% scholarships for folks who can’t afford to chip in. If you live in the bay and are in the 4th or 5th grade we will take applications based on merit.
Calacanis’ plan is part of a trend called “learning pods” or “pandemic pods” which consist of a small number of students who gather in a shared space either by online instruction or via a tutor who provides in-person learning as the COVID-19 outbreak continues.
His proposal comes at a time when the subject of reopening schools for in-classroom instruction has become controversial amid the pandemic.
President Donald Trump and most of his administration have been recommending schools reopen for weeks. The president himself said in May he disagreed with lead immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recommendation to keep them shuttered.
But teacher’s unions and their allies in the Democrat Party have pushed back, arguing that it’s not safe to reopen schools, claiming that children can be ‘super spreaders’ who put teachers and older loved ones at risk.
That said, schools in Europe, Asia, and Australia have already reopened. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued reopening guidelines using information and data gathered from European and Asian governments, while nevertheless leaving decisions to states and local school districts.
“Prior evidence from other countries is limited and should be interpreted with caution, but according to the release suggests that the majority of children with COVID-19 were infected by a family member in the household rather than a fellow student at school,” notes Contagion Live, citing the CDC’s data.
As for Calacanis, he’s not alone. Scores of other parents have already hired private tutors and formed small learning pods.
Nevertheless, his proposal sparked widespread outrage about ‘privilege.’ (** Language warning)
YAY! Let’s use “free market capitalism” to utterly destroy the social fabric of society because, hey, FUCK IT, we’re rich!
— santa cruz craig 🏄🏻♂️🌊🌊🌊 #BLUETSUNAMI2020 (@CraigsHead) August 3, 2020
The advantages of being wealthy so you can ruin education for everyone else
— Hudson River Croc (@HudsonRiverCroc) August 2, 2020
Apparently you can also afford an incomprehensible lack of self awareness.
— imperfect produce 🍃 (@LeeHepner) August 3, 2020
Any teacher abandoning their students during a pandemic to go crisis-profiteer for a year will carry that mark of shame their entire career.
— jœy (@FalconsFans_CHI) August 3, 2020
Rethink everything about your family’s priorities.
— Person Woman Man Camera TV (@ClaraJeffery) August 3, 2020
Everything that’s wrong with the Bay Area all wrapped up in a nice little tweet.
— Cory Christian (@CoryMChristian) August 3, 2020
Seriously, don’t be that guy. People at your school will find out about you doing this and other kids will take it out on your kid.
— Bluebird Yes on #15 Rave (@BluebirdRave) August 3, 2020
you offering tenure? full benefits? a retirement package? summers off for prep and recharging? no? you’re just some dude who will give them a wad of cash if they don’t displease you?
this isn’t how American education works, dude. you’re not a minor 19th century French aristocrat
— Lee County (AL) Dems (@LCDCAlabama) August 3, 2020
“I found a topic that is much more polarizing than wearing a mask—starting a school in your back yard,” Calacanis tweeted Monday following the backlash.
Nevertheless, he remains undaunted.
“We have a child in public school, we’re in the Bay Area. Schools are not going to open up. Our child does not learn well over Zoom. I’m not an expert on health, I’m not an expert on education, but I do have some expertise in starting entrepreneurial companies,” he told TMZ earlier this week.
“I decided I would put up a tweet and today’s tweet went viral. I think the applications we’re getting are from people who are not currently working so this would be a net new job for society and we’re going to give spots to families in need. In other words, families who, like myself, was the product of the public school system in Brooklyn,” he said.
Calacanis added that “of six kids, three will go for free.”
Responding to critics and supporters online, Calacanis defended small learning pods as something most parents can afford and which could be a new learning trend given that the U.S. spends hundreds of billions per year on primary education but test scores and other metrics have not improved.
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