So here is the back drop. With so many teachers being surplussed and the district not allocating any money (thus far) for finders fees to TFA, I was surprised to find that there was a new TFA class in Jacksonville. So I asked the district if going forward they were going to pick up any new Teach for America teachers and this was their thorough and reasoned response.
1. Teach for America (TFA) and Duval Schools had a multi-year contractual relationship in which TFA was compensated as one element of the District’s comprehensive program to recruit teachers to fill needs in the district.2. Last school year, 2017-18, was the final year of that contract, and that contract was not renewed.3. The TFA contract of the past and the current TFA presence in our region have no impact on the process known as “surplussing.”4. Each year, enrollment changes and instructional needs necessitate the “surplussing” of employed teachers at schools throughout the district.5. For the upcoming school year, state law requires for the first time that surplussing decisions be based on teacher performance, not job seniority.6. Teachers who are surplussed are not laid off or fired. Suplussed teachers are reassigned to a different school.7. In some cases, a school year begins before a surplussed teacher is placed. These employees are then placed in temporary roles until they are permanently assigned.8. Unrelated to surplussing, the district anticipates 1,400 to 1,500 teacher openings each year due to retirements, teachers moving out of district, and teachers leaving their roles for a multitude of reasons.9. District and school based staff work very hard to recruit teachers into these open posts.10. New teachers are recruited from multiple sources including in-state and out-of-state teacher education programs and alternative certification programs.
11. TFA continues to be a source for new teacher recruitment throughout northeast Florida. The district will interview and potentially hire teacher prospects provided through TFA.
12. Similar to many of the district’s recruiting efforts, teacher recruits who are interviewed and hired by the district, including TFA affiliated individuals, are offered an open contract.13. An open contract means the recruited teacher will have a job. Once the district knows its school and grade level openings, new teachers with open contracts, including those sourced through TFA, are placed. Currently the district has offered 114 open contracts.14. Placing a TFA teacher does not cause another teacher to be surplussed.15. Placing a TFA teacher does not prevent a surplussed teacher from getting an assignment.
A lot of that is background information and I think they are right, just because a Teach for America teacher is hired it doesn’t mean a surplussed teacher won’t be given a position.
This however is what I think. The district should be more interested in developing teachers who may spend a career in the classroom, and at some point we need to decide what kind of district we want to be. One that strives to put professional teachers in front of each class or one that is okay with hobbyists working in our most vulnerable classrooms while they wait for grad school.
I guess at this point it is what it is, which is disappointing.