Will the media look into the Teacher of the Year process and Teach for America?

I sent below to a half dozen contacts in the media:
DCPS or should I say JEPF chose Duval’s teacher of the year this past Friday night and they chose a Teach for America teacher. I find this troubling.
I spoke to another finalist in December who predicted this thinking the fix was in.  
Trey Csar is a TFA alumni and the founder of JPEF Gary Chartrand was instrumental in bringing TFA to town.
Then think about this. Schools choose their TOY nominations way back in September, so in effect the TOY winner is actually the TOY of last year. This means this year’s winner was a second-year teacher, and JPEF says she is the best the district has to offer which boggles the mind. I can’t even imagine she would have enough data to present. When teachers get their student growth scores on their evaluations the district uses a three-year average. How was the fix not in.
Now you might be saying, well its conceivable that this teacher could be our best, better than all the other teachers in the district that I am sure have impressive data but if that’s conceivable isn’t it also conceivable that there were some behind the scenes machinations?
DCPS has said they are going to limit their partnership with TFA and I believe the choosing of this teacher was an attempt to offer the program some validation.  
I would like the media to look at the process of how the TOY is chosen. I have been told that out of the 177 TOY applications, the selection committee picks just 15 to examine and I don’t think it should be lost on anyone that Gary Chartrand has been a long time foe of school teachers and on the First Coast Connect show a few years back said I was a good thing that teachers lost their work protections and that as part of state board of education he has pushed privatization and done very little to support teachers. How does his organization get to pick the TOY. Quite frankly it is insulting they have anything to do with it.    
I also think it is also time the media looked at TFA and let people know about the program.
It’s expensive, in addition to salaries and benefits we pay TFA a finder’s fee (I have asked the district how much and if it is rolling, we pay each year one of them is in the district). Then the QEA gave TFA Jax 6.5 million dollars to run its office, what is that money being used on and why do they need so much?
It’s unfair, a TFA teacher who finishes their two years gets six thousand dollars (through americorp) to pay off student loan debts/grad school/certification costs, while the UNF grad next door, who trained to be a teacher and who plans to spend a lifetime in the classroom gets nothing. Couple that with the finders fee and its price tag goes up and up.
It exacerbates the teacher retention problem. A Harvard study from a few years back admittedly a little old said it was the number one exacerbater of teacher turnover in Duval schools. We also know turnover is expensive as new teachers receive a lot more training and that has costs too.
Then it does the exact opposite of what research says our most vulnerable children need which is an experienced and capable teacher in it for the long haul. Think about this the same people who bemoan we can’t get teachers to go to or stay in our neediest schools are the same ones that support an ever-revolving door of novice teachers.
Now you might be thinking well it gets teachers into those schools, well I submit if we used the same resources we used on them (That 6.5 million we gave to TFA Jax that never saw a classroom could have gone a long way to attract professional teachers) on professional teachers or young teachers that would most likely stay longer in the classroom, then we would be better off.
I really believe if people knew about this program, they wouldn’t want Duval to have anything to do with it but at the very least shouldn’t they know so they can make an informed decision.

One Reply to “Will the media look into the Teacher of the Year process and Teach for America?”

  1. How long can we reasonably expect Ms. Bellino to stay in the classroom? I can see her going to work for TFA soon, with the $20,000 concomitant pay increase. Then maybe run for School Board, ala Darryl Willie, so TFA and JPEF can "stack the deck" and get a new contract for TFA to serve the district once again.

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