Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Why School Boards Love Temporary Teachers aka Teach for America

All over the country, school districts who do not have a teacher shortage- the most recent is Buffalo- are trying to bring in Teach for America corps members to staff their schools. Why any school district would want to bring in teachers who have been trained for 5 weeks and have no classroom experience to replace teachers with years of training, experience, and mentoring would seem to defy common sense unless one considers the budgetary considerations at stake. Since few Teach for America teachers stay beyond their two year commitment in the schools they are assigned to, there is a huge saving in pension costs for using them over teachers likely to stay till they are vested. Having a temporary teaching force also gives a school board greater flexibility in assigning teachers, and in closing old schools and re-opening new ones. It also, in the long run, will totally destroy the power of teachers unions in the district, allowing for costs savings that can be invested in increased testing and evaluation protocols. ********In a time of austerity, these economic considerations easily trump educational and social ones. Does it really matter if students can't develop long term relationships with their teachers because they come an go with great rapidity? Does it really matter if the majority of teachers leave before they achieve a minimum level of mastery of their subject Does the loss of classroom authority and control on the part of teachers thrown into classrooms cold really make much of a difference? Does the elimination of teaching as a lifetime profession for people-especially women-from working class communities to aspire to really affect the economic stability of those communities? ********For school districts looking for a quick fix to budget problems and labor problems, those questions are easily shunted aside. But the long term damage that turning teaching into "temp work" inflicts is very very real, though it may take years for school boards to understand what the consequences of their policies are for the most t under served students and wounded communities.


El Diablo said...

Something to think about Prof. Naison insightful article. Why would the head of the local teachers union support this policy as the case of BTF President Phil Rumore quoted in the Buffalo News last week not opposed to TFA?

Unknown said...

No Diablo he's walked it back to "waiting until he hears from the delegates and executive committee next week before issuing a decision." Your point is well made though, can he possibly be clueless? Has Wilmers rented him a wing of the chateau in Bordeaux? And rest assured Notorious PhD i know of at least 3 people who emailed all of our Board of Ed members your eloquent explanation of why TFA is not allowed to recruit in your classes. Peace