Teach for America back on the SB agenda Tuesday

Teach for America is back on the agenda Tuesday. I wrote the letter below to our super and school board because I think our kids deserve professional teachers and people who are more likely to stay more than just two years. Plus at 9 grand a recruit can we really afford it?

I have to say I have been impressed by most of the board and superintendents ongoing battle with the mayor and city council over the sales tax referendum. You do the school system and city proud. 

That being said we must still strive to do things the right way and entering into a contract with Teach for America does the exact opposite of what evidence and best practices say the students in our most vulnerable schools need. 

Your own analysis says that many of the Teach for America teachers struggle in the classroom. I remind you what it said

  TFA teacher performance based on Florida DOE Valued Added Model (VAM) score was reviewed for TFA teachers in TFA cohorts 2013-2015 to 2016-2018 using VAM data from 1415 to 1718 school years. There were 473 TFA teacher scores during those years. Of those, 53.9% were Effective or Highly Effective and 46.1% were Needs Improvement or Unsatisfactory. However, a comparison of performance of TFA teachers at elementary schools versus secondary schools revealed that TFA teachers at secondary schools had a significantly higher percentage of Effective and Highly Effective VAM scores, 56.0 % for secondary and 45.1 % for primary. 

During the same time period the overall average of effective and highly effective teachers was much higher, an average that was apparently brought down by Teach for America teachers.

Also it may be a little dated but a 2013 report from Columbia said Teach for America serious exacerbated Duval’s teacher retention problem.

Furthermore who do you think is going to work in the IDEA schools if they come to Jacksonville? Teach for America teachers that is who. Why would you enable the presence of this group knowing that their ultimate aim is to replace you? That does not make any sense. 

Last year the district brought in 18 teach for America staff and paid zero dollars. They were allowed to apply like anyone else. Why can’t that continue to be good enough? this year you are promising to pay 50 thousand to bring in ten? How does that make sense. 

Finally the cost of 9 thousand per corp member should be prohibitive. Wouldn’t that money be better spent going to colleges of ed and recruiting their top graduates, you know people who want to be teachers and who have a much greater chance of both being effective and staying more than two years? If you need help I will volunteer my services and I won’t charge you a dime. 

I get it we need more teachers, but Teach for America is not even a band aide on the problem, in fact it adds more to the problem. I urge you not to approve the contract and instead strive to put a professional teacher in every class. That not an ever revolving door of novices is what our children deserve and what you are obligated to do your best to provide.

One Reply to “Teach for America back on the SB agenda Tuesday”

  1. I wonder who pocketed that extra $2k? Why the discrepancy?

    Documents obtained by ProPublica show that the Walton foundation, a staunch supporter of school choice and Teach for America’s largest private funder, was paying $4,000 for every teacher placed in a traditional public school — and $6,000 for every one placed in a charter school.

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