Jim Simons is a legendary hedge fund manager, philanthropist, and mathematician. Worth an estimated $14 billion, the man has clearly seen a fair amount of success in his life. Lately, he's been spreading a bit of the wealth earned from that success in an extremely noble way.
Simons has been pushing money to deserving math and science teachers in New York City via Math for America, the philanthropy he founded in 2004. "We give them extra money, $15,000 a year," he said in a rare interview. "We have 800 math and science teachers in New York City in public schools today, as part of a core."
Considering how much the average public school teacher makes, this is no small sum.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, teachers in the U.S. are paid about $56,000 annually, down 1.3 percent on average from 13 years ago. It's tough to live on that salary even as a single person without kids, especially in large cities such as New York. Simons' goal is to help those teachers who bring enormous value to their students, but don't get the compensation to reflect it.
"There's a great morale among them," he said. "They're staying in the field. Next year, it'll be 1,000 and that'll be 10 percent of the math and science teachers in New York [City] public schools."
Incentivizing teachers who perform well seems to be the way to go, too.
"Yeah — 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 and giving them status," Simons said.