Write to the Board Over the Next Two Weeks about TFA

At this Wednesday's Board meeting, an Introduction is on the agenda to end the contract with Teach for America.  It was brought forth by a majority of Directors who were at the last Curriculum & Instruction meeting. 

They need to decide on this issue by March 31st by the terms of the contract.  Voting to end the contract means they would not hire any more TFA and the current TFA recruits would finish their contracts.

I don't know who wrote the item on the agenda but it says this:

Fiscal impact to this action will be zero. This is because the Teach for America contract does not include direct costs to the district; the $4000 teacher match requirement is funded by private donors through The Seattle Foundation.

The revenue source for this motion is N/A.

This is WRONG. 

For the umpteenth time, TFA costs our district money.  How?  Well, as proven by district e-mails, it cost HR more time to process TFA applications,  it cost principals/executive directors more time as they had to attend a completely separate meeting just about TFA and the district had to pay a sub to teach a class because the TFA recruit was not fully qualified by the time school started.   It is hard to judge how long the sub was in the class but it was at least a week.

ALL those issues cost our district money.

As to the TFA fee, the Seattle Foundation confirmed to me that they were only funding this for one year.  Now the district can go back and ask again but really, we are now back to "Who's Your Donor Daddy?"  Are we going to see the district play coy again about who is paying? And again, under the terms of the contract, SPS actually does NOT have to pay the fee even if no donor comes forward. 

Naturally TFA would not like other districts throughout the nation to know this so mum's the word.

Has TFA brought more diversity to our teaching pool?  No.

Did our site-based hiring teams hire TFA in large numbers?  No.

Did the South Shore principal, Keisha Scarlett, break School Board policy, not once but twice, in order to promote her TFA teacher?  Yes, she did.

This is not a program that we need in our district.  It is distraction we don't need.  Dr. Enfield loves TFA and is now going to Highline and therefore can go promote it there.  

I am aware that the Board is getting a heavy flow of pro-TFA (some from out-of-state!).  Please send them the message that we want fully-qualified teachers and that our site-based hiring teams did not find the quality in TFA that was promised. 

E-mail them at schoolboard@seattleschools.org or call 252-0040 to be on the Speaker list for Wednesday's Board meeting.


Charlie Mas said…
Let's have an honest discussion about the district's contract with Teach for America. In an honest discussion there would be no talk about the contract as "an experiment". That is a particularly strange and ineffective effort at revisionist history. Not only was this contract never promoted as an experiment, it fails to meet the most basic requirements of an experiment. Were it an experiment we would already have out results: there is little demand for Teach for America corps members in Seattle Public Schools.
StopTFA said…
If this were an experiment as to whether principals clamored for TFA, than it has failed in this respect. Only 3 out of 90+ principals saw fit to hire five TFA novices.

One of these, SouthShore principal Keisha Scarlett, may have felt some pressure when an LEV/New School exec made sure she met the TFA Seattle Lead, the same day she was interviewing candidates, including the TFA she hired and lobbied for.
Anonymous said…
Melissa, Charlie, et al:
Help clarify what happened at Aki Kurose. I recall info that there was a new principal and that he pushed to have 3 TfA'ers hired there, overriding the site based hiring committee.
Is my recollection correct?
ken berry SpEd IA VA@AAA
StopTFA said…
No Ken,

Mia Williams has been there a while and I had heard she was very supportive of her teachers. Why she felt moved to hire three TFA is beyond me. Interestingly, the one City Year volunteer who came back as a TFA makes over $5K more than other first year teachers, including her compatriots.

TFA Hires
dan dempsey said…
I agree with Charlie above .... in fact when all the data is taken into consideration, it may well be that THERE IS NO demand for TFA in Seattle Public Schools.

The idea that any of this TFA fiasco was "data based" or complied with legal requirements cannot be shown.

There was no talk of an experiment. It was written that TFA was a strategy to close achievement gaps.

The district continually fails to conduct a careful review of all options for closing achievement gaps. ((Yet applying for conditional certs for TFA corps members required it --- the law is regularly ignored by the SPS and the courts))

The ONLY experiment being conducted with TFA was can the district once again ignore legal requirements on an on-going basis. That is what the coming TFA vote is about ... continuing to violate laws and rights of students or not.

As for closing achievement gaps .... the last four years have continued the "Instructional Materials and Instructional Practices" disaster. Both the Superintendent and most board members choose to ignore the real problems and use actions like TFA for cover.

It has been argued that the achievement gaps are due to poverty ... while this is true there is a lot more to the gaps than poverty.

The SPS leadership would like you to believe that it is all poverty ..... because that might absolve them for making many pathetic decisions (of which TFA is one).

The SPS chooses to ignore using proven effective efficient instructional practices and materials instead clinging to those proven to be less effective and introducing crazy ideas like TFA.

The District uses a bloated centralized decision-making model, which ignores what is known to work. PLEASE Decentralize.

Spreadsheet for recent SPS gaps for Low Income, Blacks, American Indian students is HERE.

.... continued
dan dempsey said…
Notice that in the gaps with state scores over the last four years, the largest gaps occurred last year in 2011 testing for:

Low Income Students

3rd grade Math at -3.50% below state

4th grade Math at -4.20% below state

5th grade Math at -2.40% below state

Black Students

3rd grade Math at -6.80% below state

4th grade Math at -5.40% below state
4th grade Reading at -8.20% below state

5th grade Math at -5.50% below state

American Indian Students

3rd grade reading at -5.80% below state

4th grade math at -4.30% below state
4th grade reading at -7.60% below state

5th grade math at 2.60% above state
but 11.45% lower than before Everyday Math

5th grade reading at 1.70% above state
but 7.75% lower than the average of '06 & '07 testing

For a quick synopsis of the above changes.

In looking at the change in averages with the state for each of the above student demographics ....

since the 2006 & 2007 averages ... in 2011

the combined changes in 2011 for grades 3,4,5 totaled a drop of 40.95% for American Indian students in reading and a drop of 33.00% in math

the combined changes in 2011 for grades 3,4,5 totaled a drop of 2.90% for Black students in reading and a drop of 7.00% in math

the combined changes in 2011 for grades 3,4,5 totaled a drop of 0.10% for Low Income students in reading and a drop of 4.60% in math

These drops occurred as math class time was increased to 75 minutes per day ... and 110+ literacy and math coaches for teachers coached the teachers at a cost of $10+ million per year. .... which recently became an unsustainable expenditure.


Susan Enfield assured us that the teachers were getting a better handle on using the math materials.

There is no data that supports her above claim
and since she never conducted a careful review of all options for closing achievement gaps .... Dr. Enfield might not even want to discuss achievement gaps .... {{TFA is a solution for what? Likely TFA only relieves pressure from Gates Foundation and other Big Money forces.}}
suep. said…
You're absolutely right, Melissa. It is false to say that the fiscal impact of having or not having TFA, Inc, recruits in our system is "zero."

TFA, Inc. recruits definitely cost our district money -- more money than a new, fully credentialed teacher, in fact. Therefore, cancelling the contract with TFA, Inc. will SAVE SPS money.

Here's why:

Each TFA, Inc. recruit costs our district a full teacher's salary, plus a $4,000 annual fee which must be paid to TFA, Inc. (which is already a multimillion dollar enterprise with $50 million alone in federal taxpayer funding). Plus, as Melissa points out, all the mentoring and help and time that each TFAer takes from existing, experienced teaching staff at the schools where these novices are placed has a fiscal impact as well.

What's more, the legal responsibility for paying that extra $4,000 per TFA, Inc. recruit surcharge rests squarely with our cash-strapped district. Private funders have zero legal responsibility to pay this fee, under the TFA, Inc-SPS contract.

Take a look at the contract between TFA, Inc. and SPS:

(See "General Provisions" and "Fees" and "Invoicing.")

The stipulations about the annual $4,000 per TFA recruit, per year fee expressly state multiple times that SPS alone is responsible for paying this fee -- not anyone else. It also states that TFA, Inc. will send invoices to SPS -- not anyone else. It says the funds may come from private sources, but the legal, contractual responsibility for procuring that annual $4,000 per TFAer per year rests squarely with SPS.

So, if this year's private funding dries up or is not renewed next year or ensuing years, SPS is stuck with that bill, just as you pointed out, Melissa.

So yes, there definitely is a fiscal impact to cancelling TFA -- it will save our cash-strapped district precious money.

We know there was already a problem securing funding for the TFA, Inc. surcharge this year, which led to some awkward discussions between Interim Supt. Enfield and the School Board. Securing extra funding for underqualified TFAers is one more financial headache SPS does not need.

I analyzed the TFA, Inc.-SPS contract more thoroughly here:

Controversial “Teach for America” Back on the Agenda for Seattle’s Schools
suep. said…
Here is the section from the TFA, Inc. - SPS contract which clearly states that SPS alone is on the hook for the annual $4,000 per TFAer surcharge.

Also note that TFA refuses to refund any money to SPS "for any reason whatsoever" (!):

A. Fees.
i. Seattle Public Schools shall pay Teach For America an annual fee for each Teacher employed by Seattle Public Schools under this Agreement to defray expenses Teach For America incurred in recruiting, selecting, providing pre-service training and continuing professional development services to the Teachers employed by Seattle Public Schools under this agreement. Any annual fees incurred may be paid through private funds. Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to constitute a commitment for Seattle Public Schools to employ any Teachers or any specific number of Teachers under this Agreement.
ii. 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]; and
iii. With respect to each Teacher whose employment by Seattle Public Schools is to commence in the 2012-2013 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].
iv. With respect to each Teacher whose employment by Seattle Public Schools is to commence in the 2013-2014 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].
B. Non-refund. Teach For America shall have no obligation to refund to Seattle Public Schools any amount paid by Seattle Public Schools in respect of any Teacher for any reason whatsoever.
C. Invoicing. Teach For America will invoice Seattle Public Schools for all amounts due hereunder (...)
suep. said…
My final thought on this for the morning is that I am disappointed to hear that the Board Action Report (BAR) that is introducing the motion to cancel TFA, Inc. may be too brief and incomplete.

Take a look at the Board Action Report (BAR) that was used by then-Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson to introduce TFA, Inc. to SPS in 2010.

It's pretty detailed and goes through some lengths to make the case for TFA, Inc. It is not a bare-bones, neutral document.

I believe the BAR to cancel TFA, Inc. should be as detailed as the one that was used to introduce it.

I have heard that the case to cancel TFA, Inc. may instead need to be made in public testimony and the ensuing board discussion.

So, speak up everyone, and write to the board.
Anonymous said…
Who are the current board members on the C&I committee who brought this motion forward?

Also, if I remember from the last post on TFA, Harium is Mr. TFA, and Patu, Peaslee and McLaren are strong anti-TFA. That leaves DeBell, Carr and Smith-Blum to lobby. DeBell has gone Establishment since this fall, so probably only Carr and Smith-Blum are worth talking to, I am guessing. No sense wasting energy.

StopTFA said…
Well, suep., what can we expect from the staff that prepares SBARs: Holly Ferguson (Enfield's goto gal for all things TFA), and Erin Burnett, former TFAer herself. Interestingly, there was much discussion at the Board Retreat about showing the new board directors how they can formulate and move forward legislation. I guess it depends if the powers-that-be agree.

I provided the board (and staff) a draft resolution with well-founded reasons to terminate this contract. Seems they are not willing to do the work. But who do they work for? Board? DeBelle (he got help with his 1620P over Christmas)? the outgoing interim? Is the C&I Committee not afforded this same support?

TFA Resolution
suep. said…
StopTFA -- I have heard that Holly F. discouraged the BAR-drafter from making it too detailed. (Isn't that convenient?)
Anonymous said…

Thank you for clarifying the Aki situation. BTW you need to fix your link to "TFA hires.

ken berry"
StopTFA said…
Hmmm, Ken I just tried the link and it took me to the redacted interview committee results.

As I reread my post it may appear that I was posting salary information. As we all know this is public information, however I am not prepared to post this at this time.
Anonymous said…
When I was at Rainer Beach High School last year or whenever it was that Ortega came to town with her TFA,Inc. dog and pony show, I got up on the stage and stated to talk about the reality of TFA, Inc. One teacher stood up after I was done and said that he was teaching there when TFA, Inc. had recruits there a few years before that. He said that there were three recruits and that the one thing that he remembered was how much time the other teachers had to spend to help out the recruits get up to speed on the daily tasks of being "teachers".

He said two of them quit early and that the other one wasn't too bad.

We have had TFA,Inc. here before. They didn't work out then and nothing has changed since then.

And yes, that is another cost that is difficult to quantify. Taking a teacher's time away from their students and their other duties is a price that everyone has to pay.

Anonymous said…
Come to think of it, Harium apparently mentioned, during the Board Curriculum and Instruction Committee meeting when the motion was made to cancel the contract with TFA, Inc., that there was no "data" about how TFA, Inc. was doing in Seattle and he stated that he was going to fully ignore the "data" that had been derived from experiences that others had in various cities before us. But...if Harium had made ANY inquiries, he would have found out that in fact Seattle had ventured into this "experiment" as DeBell described it during this meeting, before and it had failed.

How much more "data" do you need Harium?

And DeBell calling it an "experiment"!? On our children?!

Thanks but no thanks DeBell.
Anonymous said…
DeBell is obviously scrambling to redefine the purpose of TFA since, as Dan Dempsey, Carol Simmons and Joy Anderson have made clear--the achievement gap excuse is illegal
and indefensible.

I also agree with an earlier surmise by Dan Dempsey that that the likely reason Susan Enfield changed the conditional application to super-talented (or whatever this next lie was called) is because of Joy Anderson's legal challenge.

Charlie seeks an honest conversation. How can you have an honest conversation with operators like Enfield, DeBell, Martin-Morris and Carr? They have not been troubled by lies and wheeling and dealing many times over. That would be an exercise in futility, as well as pretending that you are engaging with truth seekers.

Kay Smith Blum needs to do the right thing this time. That's all there is to it.

--enough already
dan dempsey said…
hummm.... additional costs of TFA... revenue neutral? Oh hardly.

How much is the district paying Freimund, Jackson, and Tardiff in Olympia to defend the District in Joy Anderson's legal appeals of the Board's authorizations on Sept 21 and October 5 for Enfield to seek conditional certificates for TFA corps members?

How much? Where is that data?

Perhaps data based Harium would like to provide a dollar figure rather than more pro TFA anecdotes.


When did the District conduct a careful review of all options rather than conditional certs for TFA CMs? So when was the careful review of all options for closing achievement gaps conducted?
dan dempsey said…
thanks - Mirmac,

Freimund, Jacson, Tardiff =>
#205139 205139 205139 205139 205139

$0.00 $159,764.52 $68,862.39 $7,064.43 $23,887.00

These expenditures are for 2010-2011 ....

The TFA deal would be a 2011-2012 expenditure.

So the SPS sent $250,000+ to an Olympia Legal firm to defend against actions brought by Seattle School District residents that wanted legal evidence based decisions.
Anonymous said…
To StopTFA,

I believe you are wrong about the salary difference. I would say it is not the City Year volunteer (since Seattle does have set pay scales), but instead the other LA teacher who is a 2nd year teacher with other credits as well.

-Check your facts again
seattle citizen said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle citizen said…
wow, mirmac1, did you see all the legal fees paid to outside law firms on that linked doc?

Must be 1/2 to 3/4 million....

wowzers...is this SOP?
seattle citizen said…
speaking of TFA, the Our Schools Coalition is active again - they've posted a bunch of pro-reform articles and they're now a blog, so you can comment.

Their member list has expanded, now including more of the usual suspects, like TFA...
StopTFA said…
Check my facts,

i have a mega spreadsheet from OSPI that lists Desiree Robinette's salary versus the other TFA teachers in her building. Excel doesn't lie.

: )
seattle citizen said…
Hey, we knew that LEV or the Alliance or whoever set up OSC, but what's funny is their website now has this at the bottom:

© Copyright 2011 League of Education Voters · All Rights Reserved ·

Oh, and "Jen" the is contact. I guess the Our Schools Coalition IS the League of Education Voters.
Anonymous said…
Stop TFA,

Your spread sheet is wrong.

-First hand
StopTFA said…
No, then SPS reported her assignments and salary wrong. Which may be, since it fails to report Maldonado and Calderon at all, and they were on the payroll in some form or another on 10/1/11.

But you will all see it at some point. I expect the Kitsap Sun Times will post the district payroll soon.
Anonymous said…
@ Sea Citizen 7:04

I find it hilarious that OSC has a lengthy and detailed policy on comments, and NONE of their own articles on the home page. That is TOO FLIPPIN' FUNNY. In other words, please play by LEV's rules if you'd like to comment on Sea Times or Publicola articles reposted on the OSC blog.

- hahahaha.
StopTFA said…
The Board meeting speaker list is out. Let's see how many pro-TFA speakers there are (keep in mind, I emailed at 8:16 and got the 17th slot). Interestingly, the pros include two Seattle TFA staffers (uh, conflict of interest), Liv Finne, and Lisa MacFarlane, one of the TFA hires, and maybe one or two more.

I hope we can refrain from the personal anecdotes and stick with data. I will present the NUMEROUS instances where SPS placed itself at risk or expended time and $$ on this experiment.
Anonymous said…
I wrote an e-mail to the School Board requesting a vote to terminate the TFA contract. A response I received back was that principals are requesting that TFA be a part of the hiring pool, and therefore this board member feels the need to support this. Is this correct? Are principals really wanting TFA?

Questioning SPS parent
Charlie Mas said…
Questioning SPS parent asked:

"Are principals really wanting TFA?"

Here's the only real data:

Last year every principal had access to TRA corps members in their hiring pool. That's more than 100 principals. Of those, only four hired any TFA corps members.

Seems to me that less than 4% of principals benefited from having TFA corps members in the hiring pool.
Charlie Mas said…
Here's another question for that Board member:

Should that Board member have contacted the principals directly?

It seems to me that, based on the protocol for how Board members are supposed to communicate with District staff, that might not have been allowed.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for answering my question. It seems that the reasoning is going to be the over-worn "give them every tool in the toolbox". I can't believe that there is huge support from principals, but heck they are just being given more tools. I don't know about the context of how board members get their information, but clearly this argument will be used to support a vote for the TFA contract.

Questioning SPS parent

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