Here is WAC wording for why the district can do this (italics mine):
"(a) The purpose of the conditional certificate is to assist local school districts, approved private schools, and educational service districts in meeting the state's educational goals by giving them flexibility in hiring decisions based on shortages or the opportunity to secure the services of unusually talented individuals. The professional educator standards board encourages in all cases the hiring of fully certificated individuals and understands that districts will employ individuals with conditional certificates only after careful review of all other options. The professional educator standards board asks districts when reviewing such individuals for employment to consider, in particular, previous experience the individual has had working with children."
How do we know the TFA teachers are unusually talented, that the district has explored all options to find qualified teachers and what previous experience the individual has had in working with children? These are all things we can ask the district for evidence of.
So the Action item states this as the district reasoning for TFA:
Seattle Public Schools has strong teachers and is fortunate to have many applicants for our open positions. We believe that the larger our candidate pool, the more likely that we will hire the best teachers for our classrooms.
It is best practice to have the broadest, most qualified candidate pool for our teaching positions. This agreement with TFA will broaden our candidate pool.
The agenda item says that TFA works to close the achievement gap but not that this is the reason the district is going this route.
The Agreement says this:
Specifically, the circumstance which warrants the issuance of the conditional certificate is the
district’s commitment to partnering with Teach For America as one of the strategies the district is employing to address the achievement gap.
Why would it say one thing in one place and a different thing in another?
Also, under Community Engagement it says what TFA has done to outreach, NOT what SPS has. So SPS is going to do outreach AFTER this is introduced and/or AFTER the Board okays it? How is that fair?
So what the agreement means to SPS:
- They will hired for all areas and grades and not critical or shortage areas
- They will be the classroom teacher of record (not a sub or an aide)
- The WAC they are using is this one - WAC 181.79A.231
- Special ed from the WAC -
(vii) An individual with full certification and endorsed in special education shall be assigned as a mentor to the special education teacher serving on a conditional certificate for the duration of the conditional certificate.
- this one makes me very sad because if 5 weeks is all it takes to be considered "highly qualified"
- RIFing - it looks like any TFA teacher would be treated the same as other teachers "with the same job classification, certification status and/or seniority rights." My only question is, legally, does the TFA job certification give them some different rights?
- Student privacy - in the agreement this seems very troubling. They state (italics mine):
"Teach For America shall use and maintain such data as provided in 34 CFR §99.31(a)(6). In accordance with 34 C.F.R. § 99.33(b), Teach For America may re-disclose student identifiable information on behalf of Seattle Public Schools as part of Teach For America’s service to Seattle Public Schools of providing on- going professional development services. "
"In accordance with 34 CFR §99.31(a)(6), Teach For America may also disclose student identifiable information on behalf of Seattle Public Schools to additional parties, provided that Teach For America, in advance, provide to Seattle Public Schools the names of such parties and a brief description of such parties’ legitimate interest in receiving such information. "
If I were an SPS parent, this would be unacceptable to me.
- fees - With respect to each Teacher whose employment by Seattle Public Schools is to
commence in the 2011-2012 academic year, Seattle Public Schools shall pay
Teach For America an annual amount of $4,000 for each year in which such
Teacher is employed by Seattle Public Schools, up to two years [from the date
such employment is to commence];
- No Warranty. Seattle Public Schools hereby agrees and acknowledges that Teach For America does not make and has not made any representation and warranty as to the fitness of any Teacher presented or provided by Teach For America and Seattle Public Schools shall indemnify and hold harmless the TFA Indemnities from and against any Losses resulting from any claim related to the services provided by Teach For America,
including, but not limited to, claims that any Teacher presented or provided by Teach
For America was unfit for the position for which he or she was hired by Seattle Public
From the WAC:
"(iv) Within the first sixty working days, personnel so certificated will complete sixty clock hours (six quarter hours or four semester hours) of course work in pedagogy and child/adolescent development appropriate to the assigned grade level(s) as approved by the employing school district or approved private school."
What does "within" mean to you? Because here's how the district is interpreting it:
"...the assurance that, within first sixty days, the individual has completed sixty clock hours of coursework in pedagogy as a result of successful completion of the Teach For America summer institute, which far exceeds 60 hours of preparation."
I read the WAC as getting this done during the first 60 days of employment, not getting it done BY the start of employment. I read the WAC as saying you are doing 60 clock hours in the first 60 days in addition to teaching. What do you think?