Thursday, March 22, 2018
Daryl Willie only gives part of the picture about Teach for America
Darryl Willie, executive director of Teach for America Jacksonville recent letter to the editor about the benefits of the organization was chalk full of platitudes but very light on details and gave a misleading picture of the organization.
Teach for America exacerbates the teacher retention problem and please don't take my word for it ask the district what they have to say. The vast majority of Teach for America teachers haven't stayed past their two-year commitment assuring they have to be replaced at a higher rate than other teachers.
Teach for America is incredibly expensive. the Quality Education for All initiative sent Darryl Willie's office five million dollars last summer, money that will never see the inside of a class room. Then there are the millions that DCPS has paid in finder’s fees and additional training, because new teachers require more training than veteran teachers, over the years.
Teach for America is not fair. If you are a TFA teacher after your two years are up, you get about six thousand dollars to pay off student loans or for grad school. If you are an education major at UNF after your first two years are up, you get a "thanks for coming."
Teach for America does the exact opposite of what our most vulnerable children need. It assures an ever-revolving door of novice teachers are in our neediest schools, when those schools need veteran teachers who know what they are doing and stability.
Finally, Mr. Willie mentioned the latest teacher of the year, Stephanie Bellino, is a TFA alum and I am sure she is a fine teacher. Though I think this third-year teacher's win has as much to do with the fact the president of the organization who picks the teacher of the year, Trey Csar of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, is a TFA alum too.
Some people may like Teach for America and I make no judgement about the quality of the people they send to our classrooms. Anybody who shows up whether it be from TFA or a more traditional avenue deserves our respect. That being said, our children deserve professional teachers who will stay longer than two years in our classrooms.