'Most families can afford this': Entrepreneur Jason Calacanis responds to criticism of job posting for 'best teacher' for pandemic pod

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Thursday, August 6, 2020
Silicon Valley investor defends job posting for backyard microschool
A Bay Area investor is responding to criticism of his pitch to hire "the best teacher" for a private learning pod in his backyard after the COVID-19 pandemic forced many schools to switch to online instruction for the upcoming school year.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A Silicon Valley investor is responding to criticism of his pitch to hire "the best teacher" for a private learning pod in his backyard after the COVID-19 pandemic forced many schools to switch to online instruction for the upcoming school year.


"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," tweeted Jason Calacanis.

The offer includes a finder's fee to help him locate the right candidate.

"If you know this teacher, refer them & we hire them, I will give you a $2k UberEats gift card," added Calacanis.

Calacanis, an angel investor and entrepreneur, says he wants to hire a teacher because he believes "something is lost when we put our kids in front of a webcam as opposed to a group of their peers."

Calacanis joined ABC7's "Getting Answers" on Wednesday to elaborate on his idea.

"We'll pay whatever the best rate that person could get, maybe even a little more," he said. "We'll give them benefits and days off... and we're all in this together."

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However, many on Twitter said that "togetherness" is lost in the very idea of "microschooling."

One Twitter user posting in-part, "This is wrong on so many levels. It reeks of racism, classism, entitlement."

"I understand this is a privilege I have," Calacanis told ABC7 News. "I'm a product of the public school system in Brooklyn."

In a subsequent tweet, Calacanis offered full scholarships for 4th or 5th grade students, based on merit.

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In that early interview with ABC7, he also explained he's looking to employ someone currently out of work because of COVID-19- to not take away from the local school system.

"We're not trying to steal a public school teacher and have 23 other kids suffer, obviously," he said.

Long-time South Bay teacher, Florence McClure said she created a Twitter account for the sole purpose of responding to Calacanis.

Recently laid-off, she tweeted, "I am a teacher in the Bay Area. I am interested!"

"All of a sudden, I guess we didn't have the numbers," McClure told ABC7 News over Zoom. "So myself, and another middle school teacher, were just let go last Wednesday."

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Beyond stability, she said her main concern is the students.

"It's just so unfair for these kids to be stuck in front of a computer," McClure said.

She maintained that learning pods offer a better schooling experience than a laptop ever could.

"I think that's what I find attractive. It's very consistent," she explained. "Something that you can look forward to, something it can be in person, and yet you can still have interaction."

Another Twitter user wrote Calacanis, saying, "I loathe this tweet but at the same time empathize with you..."

The Tweet continued, "If I was an uber rich person, I'd probably want the best for my kid no matter the cost."

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He said the majority of applicants so far for the teaching position are unemployed.

Students would obtain a spot in the learning pod for free, based on merit, he said.

"We're not trying to steal a public school teacher," he said.

Calacanis said his idea is an "important discussion," as distance learning did not work for his elementary-age kids.

He doesn't believe schools will reopen and if they do, he believes schools will see a situation similar to what's happened in Major League Baseball.

He also believes teachers won't want to risk going into classrooms.

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He expanded on the idea of starting a "microschool" in his blog.

"It's becoming very clear to me that school isn't going to be the starting, or be the same, this September, as many of us hoped it would. Given this, our family has decided to start a microschool in the Bay Area starting this fall. We expect somewhere between one to five students, and we are starting the search for an teacher who wants to be apart of the microschool revolution/evolution."

He says the ideal teacher would have five years experience.

Calacanis has received some backlash since tweeting about the job opening on Sunday.

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One person tweeted, "everything that's wrong with the Bay Area all wrapped up in a nice little tweet."

"The public flaunting of your wealth I think is the bit that's going to have people rolling their eyes at you," tweeted another user.

"There are tens of millions of folks out of work. 10 student pod for 6 hours @$20-40 an hour = $120-240 a day.. that's $12-24 per student - & your keep the remote public teacher to do the webcam calls with the curriculum most families can afford this, & u can give scholarships," tweeted Calacanis.

Watch the full interview with Jason Calacanis above.

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