Alumnus Gives $100,000 To 'Endow' Teacher Posts
Raleigh, NC--The chairman of a Wall Street investment firm has pledged $100,000 to endow one or more teaching positions at the Raleigh public high school from which he graduated.
The gift is thought to be the first of the kind to a public secondary school.
Although the details have not yet been made public, Richard H. Jenrette, chairman of Donaldson, Lufkin, and Jenrette, said he is working with former Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. and school officials in Raleigh to establish the endowment at 56-year-old Needham Broughton High School.
Broughton, which was recognized last year by the U.S. Education Department among those schools cited in each state for excellence, is in the center of Raleigh. It serves some of the capital city's most affluent families. Among its students have been three of Governor Hunt's four children.
Speaking this month to leaders of the National Education Association, U.S. Secretary of Education William J. Bennett suggested the establishment of "endowed chairs" in schools as a means of recognizing ex-cellent teachers. The concept was also supported by former Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell.
"It's a very significant concept," said Robert E. Bridges, superintendent of the Wake County School System, which includes Broughton. "It's happening at the university level, but it's not something that's been practiced in the public-school ranks. The concept obviously is very positive because of what it can do to improve the teaching role."
Mr. Jenrette, a 1947 graduate of Broughton, said he envisions that the endowment will enable officials to supplement the salaries of one or more of their best teachers. "We really desperately need to find ways to reward excellent teachers," he said in an interview last week. He added that he would like to see the money placed in some sort of trust fund or government bond that would yield about $10,000 a year.
Although the proposal has generated considerable excitement in Raleigh, some educators have pointed out some possible drawbacks.
"I think it's a great plan, but I don't know how practical it is," said Frank Brown, dean of the School of Education at the University of North Carolina. "High schools with well-to-do clientele may be able to provide chairs, while less affluent schools will not."
Karen D. Garr, president of the local teachers' association and president-elect of the North Carolina Association of Educators, the state's largest teachers' organization, said the proposal sounded like a merit-pay plan.
"It's a university model that I don't believe will work in public schools," she said. "It's very difficult to determine who gets that kind of thing. I can appreciate a lot someone wanting to do something for a school he cares about, but I wish he would have considered other ways that money might be used to create opportunities for a lot of teachers."
But former Governor Hunt, who has served as chairman of the Education Commission of the States, said he sees the plan as an innovative way to reward and retain excellent teachers. "I'm very anxious to see us attempt to attract the very best teachers to the classroom and keep them there," he said. "I want to see the best people stay in teaching."