There’s more bad news for Teach for America, this time coming out of San Francisco.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city’s school board has decided it doesn’t want any more Teach for America recruits — even though there are at least 500 teaching jobs that need to be filled by August. The board was supposed to vote on a contract to accept 15 TFA teachers for the 2016-2017 school year — in science, math, special ed and bilingual education classes — but Superintendent Richard Carranza realized he didn’t have enough support on the panel to get it approved and pulled it from the agenda.
There currently are 15 TFA corps members in their first year in San Francisco schools and they will continue to be supported in their second year. TFA recruits are required to agree to teach for two years, although many of them don’t make it through and many others stop teaching after the two-year requirement. The Chronicle quoted Matt Haney, the school board president, as saying:
“Our goal as a district should be to get experienced, highly prepared, fully credentialed teachers with a track record of success into our high-needs, high-poverty schools. For now, I believe that we should press pause on our contract with TFA, as we consider how best to address our own challenges of getting the best, most-prepared teachers where they are most needed.”
TFA, a highly popular organization with school reformers, has won millions in federal funds from the Obama administration and much more from private philanthropy. It is known for giving recruits about five weeks of training in the summer and then sending them into some of America’s neediest schools to run their own classrooms.
But as popular as TFA has become with reformers, it has been the target of a growing chorus of critics who say that TFA recruits are not trained nearly long enough to do the work they are asked to do. The criticism, sometimes coming from former TFA members, has risen as the organization has been having trouble meeting recruitment targets.