Just as spring heralds the arrival of new growth, it is sometimes difficult to tell the flowers from the weeds (and to figure out how some things just keep growing).
As previously announced, the money for the TFA recruit fees ($4k per teacher per year for SPS and $3k per teacher per year for Federal Way) will come from a grant from the Washington STEM organization. This would be okay except in trying to figure out how this large grant ($475k) brings more math and science to either district, it gets murky.
At the Washington STEM website, the media kit on the grants explains they will "over-recruit" for TFA recruits with a math or science degree. I asked what this meant and couldn't quite get an answer. (They don't have their own PR people and the question got farmed out to their PR person.) As per TFA, I eventually had to go through the TFA regional person, Janis Ortega. (This happens a great deal of the time. Try to contact a former TFAer and you'll suddenly find yourself with an e-mail from her. Weird.)
Here was my basic question:
Is TFA saying they guarantee that SPS will be getting TFA recruits who had a math or science major based on this STEM grant?
Here's Ms. Ortega's reply: Thanks for reaching out. To answer your question, we typically can’t guarantee an exact number of math/science corps members we’d bring to a particular school district. At this point, we have been able to forecast that at least 10 of our incoming Seattle-Tacoma corps members could be placed as math and science teachers, based on numbers of Teach For America candidates with math and science degrees who have indicated the Puget Sound as their preferred placement region.
I believe that the number of TFA recruits they hoped to bring to the Puget Sound area was about 25. So out of those 25, 10 have math/science degree. Let's say 7 of them pick/get assigned our area. Let's say Federal Way gets 3 and SPS gets 4.
The Washington STEM group thought it this important to get (maybe) 7+ TFA recruits with a math/science degree. They gave one of their biggest grants for this few recruits. I wrote to the head of the Washington STEM organization and the Chair of the Board of Directors to ask them about this issue. No comment yet.
Meanwhile, as I posted from Michael's meeting, Cleveland, the one and only STEM-based school in SPS, is struggling with funding for science materials to the point where the science teachers will give up funding for a department head and divvy that work up among themselves so they can buy science materials.
You have wonder why TFA is getting so much push for what appears to be so little.