Friday, May 01, 2015

How 5 public school systems are handling Teach For America

This from
Last week, the Jefferson Parish School Board could not agree on hiring 10 to 20 new Teach For America recruits to help out in its public schools. As a result, the issue was deferred until May 6.
Teach for America has long been controversial, with many conventional school systems eschewing hiring recent college graduates who undergo the five-week training program. Other school systems and charter schools -- particularly those with a high enrollment of low-income, English language learner or minority students -- say Teach for America fills a need.

Jefferson isn't the only School Board to tackle this recently. Here's how five other school boards incorporated -- or did not incorporate -- Teach for America in classrooms:
  1. Durham, N.C. -- In August, the School Board voted to honor its current contract with the training program but not to pursue new relationships with the group beyond 2015-16. The reasons? Teachers were too inexperienced, and they don't stay with the system long, some board members said.
  2. Pittsburgh -- The School Board voted in late 2013 to recruit as many as 30 Teach For America corps members, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation footing the almost $750,000 bill. But one election and four new members later, the board rescinded its approval. It was the first time a school board reversed a choice to bring the program into the system, a Teach For America spokeswoman told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  3. Seattle -- In 2012, the School Board voted to continue its partnership with the program, despite opposition from some teachers who dismissed the move as an experiment. (Read this Hechinger Report article for more about one Seattle recruit's experience.)
  4. San Francisco -- On Tuesday (April 28), the School Board will decide whether to hire 24 Teach For America recruits. The superintendent supports the move because of the school system's severe staff shortage. Still, the board initially deferred a decision, just as the Jefferson School Board did last week. San Francisco board members cite teacher inexperience as an issue -- again, just as some Jefferson members have.
  5. Greensboro, N.C. -- The Guilford County Board of Education, which educates more than 72,000 students, approved a three-year partnership with Teach For America in 2013. Guilford County's superintendent praised the organization.

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