Jason Calacanis wants a Silicon Valley backyard microschool pod – Business Insider

  • “Pandemic pods” have recently become a popular option for schooling in the fall as coronavirus cases surge and parents look to skirt both potentially unsafe classrooms and ineffective remote learning. 
  • Jason Calacanis, a top Silicon Valley investor, took to Twitter to say he was interested in creating a similar “microschool.” 
  • He posted that he was looking for a teacher to instruct a handful of kids in his Bay Area backyard, and even offered a $2,000 Uber Eats gift card to a referrer.
  • Pods seem like a great alternative to the chaotic public school reopening plans — but only for people who can afford it. In response to the pod inequity question, Calacanis said he’ll accept applications based on merit for 100% scholarships to his microschool, and will likely hire a teacher currently out of work.
  • He said he will also likely invest in new microschool platforms.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The coronavirus pandemic is still raging and the first day of school is quickly approaching.

In the absence of a coordinated federal effort, and with President Trump consistently encouraging schools to reopen without specifics on whether it’s safe to do so, many large districts are opting for a hybrid or remote fall semester.

Many parents are seeking an alternative, and the “pandemic pod” has been gaining traction,where parents spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $125,000 to hire a private tutor or teacher to instruct a small group of children in a home setting. One top Silicon Valley investor, Jason Calacanis, is taking that trend one step further — as he wants to start a complete “microschool” in his Bay Area backyard.

In a tweet on Sunday, Calacanis wrote that he was looking for “the best 4-6th grade teacher” who would be interested in a one-year contract that will “beat whatever they are getting paid” to teach somewhere between two and seven students.

Calacanis, who previously told Business Insider about swinging from a net worth of negative $10,000 to $100 million, has invested in companies including Uber and Robinhood. He offered anyone who can refer the right teacher a $2,000 Uber Eats gift card.

This type of learning arrangement would intensify the problematic trend of affluent children leaving the public school system exacerbating the inequities that do exist by excluding and removing resources from marginalized students.

Calacanis is accounting for that critique. He tweeted that his microschool would accept applications and then offer 100% scholarships. “So, if it’s six kids, three will go for free, and maybe one or two will pay something, or I’ll just pay for all of it,” he clarified in a Monday morning interview with TMZ.

He also told TMZ that all of the applications he has received are coming from teachers and tutors who are not currently working, meaning that his microschool will create a teaching position, rather than remove a current teacher from their class, weeks before school is set to start. He also noted that the economics of microschools would likely allow teachers to be paid more.

Microschools are “kind of like Little House on the Prairie,'” and “obviously a brilliant idea,” according to Calacanis. He tweeted that multiple startup founders have reached out to him about building microschool platforms — and that he would likely be investing.

Calacanis did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

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