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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Superintendent Vitti, let data decide if Teach for America expands or not!

This is the response I gave to Superintendent Vitti about Teach for America, -cpg

First thanks for getting back to me as ever you have a rationale well thought out position and I completely agree with you that TFA does have a role to play, I think where we differ is what place in line they should be.

You are right the teaching profession has greatly changed over the last ten years or so, fewer and fewer people enter the field with plans of being there a life time. I also think if the powers-that-be continues their campaign against teachers, getting rid of tenure, attacks on the pension, merit pay, evaluations based on high stakes tests etc. then we are going to need a lot more than the hundred or so TFA recruits that the district plans to bring in annually.

However I know you are a data driven decider so I would like you to think about these numbers, numbers I got from the district last year.

Only 4 of the first group of 51 TFA teachers stayed for 4 years, that’s 8%.

Then only 10 of the next group of 41 stayed 3 years. That is less than 25%.

Of the fist 91 teach for America teachers to come to Jacksonville only 14 stayed past their two year commitment. That’s about 16%

I have asked Masha Oliver for updated numbers and she has said she will get back to me but as you can plainly see those numbers are abysmal. 

Then Trey Czar on the radio program First Coast Connect said first and second year teachers struggle and often have poor classroom management. Well when we put a TFA recruit in a classroom we assure that classroom will have a revolving door of teachers who will most likely struggle.

I also worry about the amount and expense of training that goes into TFA teachers who will never use it. I had more training that required subs during my first two years than in the next 5 combined. Then TFA has negative ramifications on teacher pay, the cost of benefits and the future of pensions.

Finally the whole notion of TFA is insulting to many veteran teachers and myself. It says anybody can do my job regardless of experience and training and that’s not true.  It turns my job from a profession into an extended summer gig for recent college grads.

As I said TFA does have a role to play but in every instance I sincerely believe and the data I believe backs me up, the district should strive to put teachers who may spend a lifetime teaching in our classes. Only when we have exhausted all other routes should we turn to TFA for help. That 11 million dollars would be so much better spent recruiting veteran teachers from the surrounding communities and top graduates from the states colleges of education unless like Jeb Bush believes you think they should all be blown up.

All I ask the district and you to do is to look at the data before making the decision to expand the program. Our resources are already spread so thin.

You might want to check this out too.

Again thanks for writing me back. Have a great day

Chris Guerrieri

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