Friday, April 15, 2011

TFA News and Facts

I'm not sure if some of these facts have yet been spelled out on the blog. Maybe they have; maybe they haven't. Even if they have, they merit repetition.

1. Seattle Public Schools has hired a recruiter who is a former Teach for America corps member. There is reason to believe that this person views TfA favorably and may promote TfA corps members to schools making hiring decisions. I'm not entirely sure what a recruiter's job is, but it may include filtering the hiring pool and rejecting some applicants before the hiring committees at the schools get to see them. I am tempted to apply for a teaching job, just to see if I am rejected out of hand due to my lack of a teaching certificate. If I am, then I wonder why Teach for America corps members would not also be rejected out of hand on the same basis.

2. We have been told that Teach for America corps members will only be considered during the Tier 3 hiring period, after transferring and RIFed teachers have already been considered. This is a convenient bit of misinformation. The TfA corps members are only interested in teaching at Level 1 and Level 2 schools. Those schools go directly to Tier 3 for hiring. They don't have a Tier 1 or Tier 2 hiring period. Consequently, the restriction of TfA candidates to Tier 3 is no restriction at all. The Board didn't seem to be aware of this and the District staff didn't seem to feel any need to remind them of it.

3. There is a cost to the District for hiring TfA candidates, or any candidate who does not already have a conventional certification. The District, in hiring them, commits to providing them with a variety of assistance in obtaining their certification and the District commits to providing them with a variety of support and mentoring. These costs are not covered by the $4,000 the District would have to pay to TfA.

4. The District was not to hire any TfA candidates unless a private donor provided the money for the $4,000 fee for TfA. A private donor has stepped forward; Washington STEM will be acting as the Gates Foundation hand puppet to pass the cash directly from the Gates Foundation to the District. Washington STEM, however, will only make the payment for secondary school teachers for math and science or primary school teachers who have a math or science degree. There is no donor identified for any other candidates.

5. Even as the RIF notices are set to go out on May 15, some schools will also begin their hiring around that time. Does this strike anyone else as odd?

6. The District has intentionally low-balled the projected enrollment at schools for budget purposes. This has forced the schools to lay-off teachers. When the ridiculously low projected enrollment figures prove false, the schools will then have to re-hire. The teachers they laid off may have already found other teaching positions at other schools - they aren't going to sit around and wait for Seattle to hire them back. If the teachers don't get called back or don't answer the call then the District will have to hire quickly in September or October to fill positions. Traditionally certificated teachers may have found other positions by then, enhancing the opportunity for TfA corps members to find available positions. I know that one seems like a stretch - a real Rube Goldberg set of cause and effect, but the cause is the low-balled projected enrollments for the schools and the effect is more opportunity for Teach for America corps members to find a job at Seattle Public Schools.

7. The District DID NOT low-ball the projected enrollments at Level 1 and Level 2 schools as much as they did at Level 4 and Level 5 schools. Of the 11 Level 1 elementary schools, only 1 has a projected enrollment less than the current enrollment. The District expects a net increase of 237 students in Level 1 elementary schools. That means hiring about 11 new teachers into these schools. In Level 2 elementary schools the District expects a net increase of 96 students, that's another 5 teachers. Only two are not expected to grow and they are projected to lose only a total of 10 students between them. 715 of the 904 new students expected in Seattle elementary schools are expected to appear at the either newly opened schools or Level 1 or Level 2 schools. That's 24 schools accounting for the bulk of the increased enrollment.

29 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

But Charlie, there's more. The new head of recruitment? His last job was with TFA as a recruiter. Before that, he worked for TFA to spread the word about TFA. He's a TFA person through and through.

What is also interesting is that the dean of the school of education at UW is also TFA. And, UW just so happens to be considering being the educational entity sponsoring TFA. I have tried repeatedly to meet with him and yet our appts keep falling through. As I pointed out to his boss, the vice-provost, it wouldn't look good to wait until AFTER the decision gets made to allow press inquiries.

Charlie said:
"Washington STEM, however, will only make the payment for secondary school teachers for math and science or primary school teachers who have a math or science degree."

Actually any TFA recruit with a math or science degree can be hired for any level, elementary or secondary. This was what Washington STEM says.

basically said...

It's number five that I have never understood. The simultaneous hiring/RIFing, if anyone can explain that to me....

another mom said...

Anyone know the percentage of graduates from the class of 2010 UW teaching cert. program (all campuses) who were hired by SPS or for that matter any WA state public school? My guess is that it is painfully low. It remains unclear to me why someone with a teaching certificate -say a 23 yr old young energetic graduate- will be rejected for someone also 23 but without the required certificate. This uncertificated hire will need tremendous financial and professional support.

And don't forget that many of the tired old teachers- 20 years of experience -are only 43 yrs old. So much for 40 being the new 30.

zb said...

What's level 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 mean?

And, is the projection estimate basically wishful thinking -- projecting under-enrolled schools to have increased enrollment and over-enrolled schools to have decreased enrollment?

(Applying some kind of equilibrium equation, rather than realizing that there are human actors making choices based on the quality of the actual schools.)

zb said...

"It remains unclear to me why someone with a teaching certificate -say a 23 yr old young energetic graduate- will be rejected for someone also 23 but without the required certificate."

Me neither. From what I know of the UW Masters in Teaching program, there is extensive mentored student teaching involved (including a requirement that students applying have observed classrooms). So, we're not talking about paper certifications; we're talking about real experience in the classroom.

There's the potential that the students with the teaching certificates won't have the science/math content experience. That's the only excuse I can imagine to find legitimate. And, I wouldn't find it relevant for an elementary school teacher.

Just saying said...

I recall reading Bill Gates gave U of W dollars under the condition they support TfA.

The TfA contract states level 1 schools skip the thrid phase of hiring. Thereby, TfA candidates enter the first pool of considered applicants.

If directors are unaware of this fact, they failed in their duty to read the contracts.

another mom said...

"There is reason to believe that this person views TfA favorably and may promote TfA corps members to schools making hiring decisions. I'm not entirely sure what a recruiter's job is, but it may include filtering the hiring pool and rejecting some applicants before the hiring committees at the schools get to see them."

And if candidates are filtered to be primarily from TfA, is this cronyism? I dunno but it appears that TfA would benefit financially and otherwise for every candidate that it is able to place.

Charlie Mas said...

another mom asked:
"And if candidates are filtered to be primarily from TfA, is this cronyism?"

It may be cronyism, but it would be cronyism that is in no way prohibited by the District's Ethics Policy. The District's Ethics Policy only precludes people from profiting in cash from their decisions.

In other words, a District employee could hire their friends and relations to positions - over more qualified applicants - and it would not be a violation of the Ethics Policy. A District staff person could award contracts to friends and former colleagues - over more qualified proposals - and it would not be a violation of the Ethics Policy.

The Ethics Policy does not forbid cronyism, only self-dealing.

StopTfA said...

I would say Joe Recruiter should recuse himself from consideration of TFA applicants.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Should the dean of the College of Education at UW recuse himself from determining whether UW should sponsor TFA?

I truly am asking what people think. My husband thinks it's a gray area.

Dorothy Neville said...

Some facts, perhaps? Charlie mentioned recruiter which Melissa turned into head of recruitment. That's a big leap. Are we talking of a head of recruitment? Not that I know of.

The new recruiter is specifically tied to the TIF grant. Therefore is specifically for recruiting for the 29 or 34 schools listed in the grant.

And, this recruitment is supposed to "identify and recruit high performing teachers and principals to low-performing, high-needs schools."

So I read this as saying that this person is supposed to look within the district and identify high performing teachers and convince them to take the stipend to move to a TIF grant school, as well as find new hires for same schools.

The fact that his background is all TfA is troubling. because new hires, new to teaching by definition do not have a performance track record at all.

So when you want to write to the school board, superintendent or press or union rep, use as much factual information as possible. This is a TIF grant funded recruiter to get high performing teachers and principals into high-needs schools. How does a former TfA recruiter fit that job description? How will we know that this recruiter combed through existing high performing teachers to find folks willing to move? Wouldn't that be number one priority to ensure high-needs students get experienced teachers who are not likely to leave after two years?

And, very troubling, as Charlie pointed out and the board is Very Aware OF -- the enrollment projection figures look skewed and purposefully destructive. Point out to the board etc how this factors into the questions raised.

Central Mom said...

Also please point out to the Board that of the dozens, yes dozens, of higher ed teaching degree programs in WA, the District has relationships with only a few, and those relationships are tenuous at best because Central Admin can't pull it together enough to structure ongoing, mutually beneficial, partnerships with even the top tier schools.

The term "dysfunctional" comes up a lot from the colleges' perspective on JSCEE.

Frankly, I'd rather see the District's time, skills and $$ going into bolstering those partnerships than going down the TFA rabbithole. There's only so much time in the day. Our state's own colleges offer a GREAT solution to providing a consistent source of skilled teachers. The TFA program isn't nearly as sustainable or comprehensive a solution.

Salander said...

Dear staff,

Today I am announcing a change in leadership at Seattle Public Schools.

After five months as Chief Talent Officer, Ann Chan will be leaving the position. I appreciate her guidance during a difficult period for our school district, but I am moving Human Resources in a new direction. Ann’s last day is April 29, and we all wish her well.

I am focusing on Human Resources because it is a key part of restructuring our central office to best support teaching and learning. It is time to closely examine how we are organized, and this starts with Human Resources. The Human Resources Department will now report to Robert Boesche, Interim Chief Financial Officer, while we conduct a search for an Executive Director of Human Resources. I will announce an Interim Executive Director after Spring Break.

Central office has experienced significant change in the past several months and I know this decision adds more uncertainty. I appreciate your continued focus on your work. I also want to express my thanks to the Human Resources department and my appreciation for their continued work during several leadership transitions.

As always, I have an open door policy and would welcome hearing from you. Please let me know if you have questions, concerns or ideas.

Sincerely,

Susan

Susan Enfield, Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent
Seattle Public Schools

peonypower said...

zb
Any math or science teacher with a secondary teaching endorsement must have a degree in the area they will be teaching in. So TFA has no advantage over someone from the UW masters (or for that matter any program in the Seattle area.) The degree was a requirement of NCLB to meet the "highly qualified" stamp of approval that all teacher within at least the past 6 years have had to meet.

Melissa Westbrook said...

What the hell is going on down there?

mirmac1 said...

Hey! I like this! Susan Enfield is putting her stamp on things (of course, it'll mean we pissed away money on yet another MGJ Big Idea, but what else is new). If I were the new sheriff in town, I would do the same.

Central Mom said...

Ann Chan out = good.

Nice person. Wrong personality for housecleaning and huge step up in professionalism needed YESTERDAY. Plus I think she was commuting here from Chicago or somesuch. Get us someone from our community, please. It's not like there aren't dozens of highly talented HR folks that have been underemployed these past few years.

And that HR leader better be on the warpath first with his/her own department and then with everyone else's. This is another historical source of rot at the roots downtown.

mirmac1 said...

And I gotta say Robert Boesche's gonna be swimming upstream against the current. He's been nothing but nice to me. I wish him the best. He's trying to set the groundwork in place for the eventual permanent CFO. I'd say one of the best ways is to clear the deadwood. Do that bottom-up review of what's needed to accomplish the mission.

Seattle-Ed2010 said...

The main problem Dean Tom Stritikus -- and U.W. itself -- faces if U.W. does decide to sponsor TFA,Inc. is, how could he not come across as a hypocrite?

After all, there he would be, telling one group of students that it takes a full year of dedicated preparation and study towards an education degree, and actual in-class, on the job, student-teaching experience to be fully qualified and ready to be a solid teacher, while telling another group, a five-week crash course is all you need.

To have these two programs side by side at U.W. would send a pretty schizophrenic message to the students there. It's also a recipe for huge resentment.

And both groups would be ostensibly vying for the same jobs.

Add to that the fact that students in the U.W. MA teaching program are likely paying their own way (or into debt), while the TFA-ers get their training funded by TFA, Inc. ($50 million of it coming from taxpayers via the Obama Administration's largesse) and local school districts (including SPS) which have to pay an extra bonus of at least $4,000 per year for each TFA-er they hire, and you've got economic inequality in the mix as well.

Also, how could Stritikus, a TFA alum, not show favoritism towards the TFA-ers? So there's a potential conflict of interest problem well.

The U.W Dept of Ed site emphasizes the rigor of the state teaching requirements and U.W.'s teaching program: "In order to meet State of Washington requirements for teacher certification, the requirements of the Teacher Education Program are rigorous and highly structured." More details about U.W.'s MA in teaching program can be found here.

More info on who pays for what for TFA, Inc. can be found here.

Here's a local teacher's perspective on TFA, RIFs, and the non-shortage of teachers in SPS: Letter from a Teacher to Superintendent Enfield and Seattle School Board: Please don’t outsource our jobs to TFA.

--Sue p.

dan dempsey said...

WOW!! TfA

It seems everywhere I look the complete failure of Directors to make evidence based decisions ... leads to a string of linked expensive failures.

This appears to be a result of irrational decisions, where Directors like Carr decide to go with the plans of Central Admin while ignoring the evidence.

The Change I am looking for in the SPS is using intelligence to make decisions.... Instead we have Churn, Churn, Churn and the same failure to think.

zb said...

"Any math or science teacher with a secondary teaching endorsement must have a degree in the area they will be teaching in."

Does this mean that all secondary science & math teachers in SPS have undergraduate degrees in science or math?

Mind you, I think there are people who believe that the kind of degree the TFA folks might have earned, say, from Caltech or Harvard, might matter. I'm not sure that it does.

Sahila said...

@Dan.... churn, churn, churn .... burn, burn, burn..... watch the dollars go up in smoke... and our kids with them....

WV = expdjunt... as in UW/SPS/TFA will do/say whatever's expdjunt....

dan dempsey said...

To clarify. I am No Child Left Behind Highly Qualified as a Math, Chemistry, and Science teacher.

I have a BA in Math and the required 45 quarter hours of Chem for NCLB HQ status.

In addition I have a smattering of Physics, Biology, Geology.

So NO a degree is not necessary to be NCLB HQ in Chem. I have 45 qtr credits which is about equivalent to one solid year of only chemistry.

When one walks into a low performing school, which is almost always a high poverty situation ... that Math or Science degree means not much as one needs experience. The fact that likely most TfA hires will be leaving after two years for somewhere else, puts SPS in the position of providing the poor trained and inadequate the equivalent of a "pseudo residency" to figure things out.

SPS school directors failed to analyze the situation, or look at the evidence, and failed to think.

Time to fess up and hire ZERO "TfA"
in light of the RIF and budget problems. When it comes to Seattle, the TfA is another scam.

Directors are still as a group (at least 4 out of 7) still walking the ED Reform is perfect direction. Thus Enfield was the pick for interim Supe.

It does not have to make any sense in the irrational world of education.

dan dempsey said...

expdjunt =

moving quickly in a predetermined direction (Club Ed Elites figured out the direction), despite the evidence, under the guise of "It is good for kids" and needs to rapidly happen.

Anonymous said...

I love it when I am right. I told you so.
-Cassandra

Anonymous said...

zb:
Level 1-5 are from the Schools' Report Card determined by MSP and MAP trends for elementary schools and HSPE (is that the right acronym?) and other District generated tests for secondary.

You may recall the Blue-Green-Yellow-Orange-Red labels for schools. Level 1 school is a red school, Level 2 an orange school.
ken berry

Anonymous said...

How about this for a TFA strategy -

RIF's and hiring concurrent May 15 (or whenever). Schools with the twisted low enrollment numbers let teachers go. These current SPS teachers go to the schools where enrollment numbers aren't twisted so low.

Fast forward to fall - low and behold enrollment was underprojected and lots of "nice" schools now need to hire teachers. But the teachers we let go last spring are spoken for, or gone. Hey, look, some TFA kids are available!

That's how you get TFA kids into schools where there may not be an "achievement gap".

Clever, huh?

Oompah

Anonymous said...

zb--
there are back doors to HQ status that don't require anything remotely like a degree, or even a substantial amount of subject area knowledge.

The state has tests for its endorsements, which are an easy way for someone to add endorsements in the same general area: an algebra teacher can test to become endorsed in calculus in one step.

Getting slightly further afield, there are various college-sanctioned paths that choose related subjects (math and science, english and history) where if you hold the one endorsement, you can pass the state content test in your related subject and have someone from an accredited college watch you teach a class in the 'new' area, and if you do well you get the new endorsement.

Then there are the weird HOUSSE forms, which can be used well or improperly. HOUSSE was formed because of NCLB, in order that teachers could reach HQ status quickly. It's a points based system, that allocates points based on various experiences, certifications (pre '87 general gets a lot of points, as do SPED), time spent teaching in the area in question, and other accomplishments. The level of difficulty in the college coursework is unspecified, and the time spent teaching is not as specific as it should be (and counts substitute time, which I'm not sure is a good idea). More than one district has gotten in trouble for submitting HOUSSE forms that were incomplete or without the receiving teacher's knowledge.

-former teacher

dan dempsey said...

Former teacher,

Kudos to you. Excellent explanation of the real rules of the game.