The Seattle Education Association Stands For A Stronger System of Universal, High-Quality Public Education in Seattle Public Schools!
Bringing Teach For America (TFA) to Seattle Does Not Make Public Education Stronger!
Commit to at least two of the following action items!
- Use the following points to craft your own letter to school board members. Click here to get contact information.
- Sign up to speak at the school board meeting on November 17, 2010. Information on what to do Monday, November 15 at 8:00 AM to get on the agenda is here.
- Attend the school board meeting with signs expressing your opinion about the TFA agreement that will be voted upon. To read the introduction and the agreement, click here.
- Read up on Teach For America, inform yourself!
Here are just nine reasons to oppose Teach for America's intrusion into Seattle Public Schools!
1. TFA recruits are not needed: There is no shortage of qualified, certificated teachers in Seattle; West Seattle Elementary School had 800 applicants for four positions. The notion that we cannot get a sufficient pool of applicants for positions in our most challenged schools is false. If anything, Seattle teachers are more motivated to teach in the most challenging schools.
2. TFA recruits are not qualified: Our children need teachers who know what they are doing. Graduates of programs in our Colleges of Education have more experience and more skills than can be acquired in 5-week teacher boot camp. However laudable the intention of these young people is, there is no substitute for in-depth study, sustained inquiry, and practical experience – all things that are offered in teacher education programs.
3. TFA recruits do not stay in the classroom: The requirement for TFA teachers is two years but many of them do not even last that long. The vast majority polish their resumes and move on to other career ambitions. This kind of churning in teacher positions hinders student achievement and disheartens students. Only 34% of TFA teachers stay in classrooms beyond two years; only 20% stay beyond three years.
4. TFA does not improve student achievement: Multiple studies have shown that on the whole TFA recruits do not have better success in fostering student achievement, in spite of the programmatic support that they receive from TFA during their assignment, than other beginning teachers who have studied in colleges of education.
5. TFA, implemented as proposed, infringes on students’ civil rights: The TFA/SPS agreement requires “partner schools” that have high poverty, or ethnic minority enrollment be indentified to place TFA applicants. This is an equity issue. Why are ethnic-minority or low income students the ones who receive the least qualified and least experienced teachers? Why are ethnic-minority or low income students the ones who are given a program that accentuates teacher churn?
6. TFA siphons off scarce outside funding: There is a limited amount of outside funding available for education. If there are organizations that are willing to step forward and partner with the district to fund educational programs then the district should work with them to encourage them to support the mandates that we already have in the new contract and assure that its roll-out is a success. This will do what TFA cannot: facilitate the professional growth of all teachers. The $80,000 - $100,000 fee that may be paid to TFA could be better used. More support is needed for: the STAR Induction Program for new teachers; new teacher orientations; cultural relevancy training; Profession Learning Community training (essential for new PG&E evaluation system); the classified to certificated programs (enrolls IA’s in a teacher certification program); recruitment and retaining of teachers of color.
7. A TFA agreement with SPS undermines the confidence of employees in district leadership: TFA was on the bargaining table during contract negotiations. It was pulled off and what was bargained in its place was an agreement between SPS and SEA for a joint task force to look into the issues of recruitment and retention of educators. This proposal undermines that work and validates the mistrust of the district leadership that led to the no-confidence vote in the superintendent.
8. A TFA agreement undermines trust in the school board: If TFA is really a good idea then what is the hurry? The characterization, in school board documents, of SEA as a partner in the development of the TFA agreement is completely misleading. The only role SEA leadership played was to get the first attempt pulled off the school board agenda, as we knew TFA had been a subject of bargaining, the district re-wrote the proposed agreement with TFA so it would not violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Coming on the heels of the results of the audit, the hurried nature of this agreement with TFA raises questions again about school board oversight of district leadership initiatives.
9. The TFA agreement abuses the state guidelines around emergency or conditional certification: Conditional certification under state guidelines is intended for subject areas where it is difficult to impossible to find people with expertise in a subject area.