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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Teach for America is an incredible boondoggle

The Duval County school board voted to extend the contract of Teach for America for another three years. 600 grand will come from the district and 4.4 million will come from grants and philanthropic donations for an annual payment to TFA of 5 million dollars.

In case you didn’t know it Teach for America takes non-education recent college grads, puts them through a five week course and then into our neediest classrooms where they serve a two year commitment, or the exact opposite of what we know to be best practices for our children. They aren’t just in Jacksonville either, no they have enclaves in several places around the state, though currently Orange County is resisting them and Hillsborough county said no to them saying that they would prefer to have lifelong educators or people that might develop into them in thier classrooms.

I asked the district what the five million was going for and this is what they told me:Recruiting corps members, training them at institute (summer before the fall), support throughout their first and second year, and other broader training the first two years. This all provided by TFA, not the district.

If this is what the district is giving TFA 5 million for, then it costs us 25,000 dollars per TFA member. That’s some pricey support their.

Furthermore since TFA members are automatically part of Americorp they are eligible for a 5,350 stipend for each of their two years of service. And friends we haven’t even gotten to the cost of their district salary and the price of their benefits and district training which is usually a lot more for rookie teachers and all TFA teachers are first and second year teachers. I am told the price for all this in Jacksonville Florida is about 65 thousand dollars.

This means we have just invested 190,350 dollars over two years for teachers that for the most part won’t work beyond that and about a fifth of who won’t even work that. In Duval only an average of 82% make it to year two.

What would happen if instead we spent the money to recruit professional teachers or top of their class graduates? Most would stay a lot more than two years I bet. So even if we spent the exact same amount though I think it would be cheaper, we would most likely come out ahead because we wouldn't have to replace them every two years like we have to do with most of the TFA teachers.

Personally I don’t like TFA because it turns my profession into a service job, they say experience and training don’t matter and they say anybody can be a teacher.  All of those things insult me. Furthermore it also wastes money as many will get training on the districts dime that they will never use and then their mere presence has pay, cost of benefits and pension ramifications for all teachers. 

Are their great TFA teachers? Undoubtedly but I can’t imagine any parent picking a TFA recruit over a professional teacher, furthermore how many people are they stopping from developing into great teachers because they have taken the jobs.

We are wasting money, holding back kids and kneecapping the teaching profession by putting these hobbyists in our classrooms. And it is time we stopped doing so or at least let the people know about how much is being spent.

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