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Thursday, June 07, 2012

TFA and Renton School District

The good news? 

Apparently, Renton Superintendent, Mary Alice Heuschel decided not to present the question of hiring any TFA applicants before  the Rendon School Board.  Therefore, Renton School District won't be hiring any of TFA members for next fall. 

The reason why comes from the Renton Reporter:

The Renton School District was considering using applicants from the Teach for America program, but a higher influx of more qualified applicants to open teaching positions has taken the idea off the table.

Randy Matheson, district spokesperson, confirmed Friday afternoon the district's human resources department has received more applicants for teaching positions than it thought it would originally receive.

And this was the case in Seattle.  It is clear that Washington State has a huge number of unemployed but fully-qualified (and in some cases, experienced) teachers.  We don't need TFA here in the Puget Sound region. 

Here's what Superintendent Heuschel had to say:

"This is 'my' profession," Heuschel said in an email when the district was still considering the program. "I am a fierce supporter and advocate of our teachers. I have an unwavering commitment to supporting the teaching profession, specifically with the Renton School District team of caring, dedicated professionals."

This is, of course, a big blow to TFA.  They have struggled to place their members in Seattle and Federal Way last year and had just 11 (and one in Federal Way left early on).   That also leaves the UW program just for TFA severely underenrolled.  And now, no hope in Renton.  (Of course, they do have the hope that Dr. Enfield, in her new role in Highline, will bring her support of TFA to that district.) 

The bad news?  Trying to sneak it in to Renton. 

Our friends at the Seattle Education blog have more details:

The teachers received word the Friday before the school board meeting when this proposal would be presented by Superintendent Mary Alice Heuschet. There was no notice of this besides a quick e-mail to a few union representatives. The proposal would come up to the board and the board would vote on it in the next public meeting.

At that meeting, four days later, teacher after teacher came forward to talk about their profession (even pointing out that hairdressers have to get far more training than TFA in order to get their certification).  

I guess Renton doesn't believe in public engagement either on this issue.  It almost looks like someone was trying to rush this through, hoping no one would hear about it until after the fact. 

I'm glad the Superintendent there saw the light and their HR department got the volume of applications that it did.  

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

It doesn't make sense that there is such a stampede to assess and over-assess teachers and yet desire to hire inexperienced poorly trained fast-tracked teachers into positions.

Isn't that a contradiction? Totally illogical. Reformers: what's going on?

n...

Melissa Westbrook said...

N, I think the idea is that they train TFA to teach in their own way. I suspect if you went into into a TFA classroom, the teaching would look different from other teachers in the building, particularly in how they present the curriculum. They have to teach to the test.

StopTFA said...

I will be interested in the public records, once I receive them from Renton. : 0

Anonymous said...

Heuschel was Sup or the Year 2010. Did she ever say she wanted TFA? When she first came to Renton she started the partnership with Seattle U to create a math endorsement for Renton teachers. Renton's doing great work with their students. The solution for the lack of math teachers was local and it works:

http://www.partnership4learning.org/resources/article/tough-get-going-seattle-u-and-renton-partner-increase-math-teacher-capacity

TFA corps are ideal for teaching to the test if that's all you want. Glad to hear Renton isn't going for it.

Mr White

StopTFA said...

I don't ascribe good intentions here. Mary Alice was hot for Teach for America back in summer 2010. I believe the proposal was dropped because opponents were alerted to the backdoor shenanigans. Thanks Seattle Ed-2010 blog.

That is TFA's modus operandi. Schmooze in, stroke egos, be "thought partners" or BFFs, plant Nathan F.s or Greg Wongs in the admin.; it's quite bizarre.

I expect Highline will be getting the pressure tactics next.

Anonymous said...

StopTFA: That's what I thought re: Heuschel supporting TFA. Doesn't make sense given the work she did creating the SU program to offer a 20-credit math endorsement. She needed math teachers and found a way to enlist Renton teachers. If anything one would expect to see her do more of the same, evangelize the partnership idea to other districts. Without knowing more good on Renton teachers for the win.

Mr White

Melissa Westbrook said...

I did speak with Renton's communications director. It seems that Renton would be okay with TFA but recognize how many experienced (and unemployed) teachers they have out there.

I also think the backlash they got from their teachers hearing about it gave them pause.

Interestingly, their contract talks with TFA didn't include any minimum number of hires OR fee payment. Smart.

I wonder how many districts TFA is willing to front the fees for just to get their foot in the door. Hasn't worked here so far.

StopTFA said...

Ooh, but that doesn't they won't keep taking a loss to get entrenched. The NW is one of the last bastions.

Sahila said...

From Dave Greene, posted on the Dump Duncan Facebook page...
A TFA corps member reports:
"Just finished my 2-year TFA commitment and I couldn’t agree more. I was not a traditional TFAer (in my 30s, with plenty of prior job experience, and chose TFA as a path to becoming a teacher, not to get into law school). By the time I got to summer Institute, I was afraid I had made a very, very big mistake. I never felt that TFA understood the challenges of my placement region (I had lived in the area for more than a decade, so I was very familiar). When I questioned my training at Institute, I was consistently told (by TFAers no older than 26) that what I was learning in an urban environment with African-American elementary school children would apply thousands of miles away, in an extremely rural high school made up of indigenous students. Now, I may not have had a background in pedagogy, but this raised my BS-alarm something fierce.

Unfortunately, I was proved right. The team of 6 TFAers that landed at my placement school were underprepared and unsupported. One came, got the lay of the land, and immediately left. We worked extremely hard, as required by the TFA model, but staying up until 1am every night to meet all the requirements of TFA, the required graduate school courses, and the DOE induction program, while trying to create an entire year’s worth of lesson plans as you go – it was a nightmare, and doesn’t lead to your being at your best in the classroom. The CM I am closest with, a 22 year old with an Ivy League degree, ended up in the hospital for over a week with stress-induced health problems. Out of the 6 TAFers that were originally placed there, I am the only one continuing past the 2-year commitment.

I think TFA places “superhero” dreams in the eyes of a select group of overachieving, Type-A, impressionable young people, and thus does a disservice to both the CM and the students. I myself am from low-SES background, and attended public school, so I am and always have been skeptical of the “saviour” message that TFA hypes. It also neatly fits into the corporate-reform theme that the only thing standing between poor kids and a smooth and easy college-educated, white collar life are those selfish teachers who refuse to have their jobs be dependent on useless and misleading test results.

But as I was exiting TFA, I got to see their plans for the future – which include a path to administration (principal!) that could only require 2 years classroom teaching experience. Scary…"

StopTFA said...

Excellent post by Gary Rubinstein:

It takes a village