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Miscellany: NYC Teaching Fellows Conundrum, Absenteeism, & Dorn-onomics

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1) 8% of This Year's Teaching Fellows to Be Let Go in December: 139 teachers, or 8% of the 1840 teachers who joined the NYC Teaching Fellows June 2008 cohort, will be let go on December 5th because they have not yet been placed in a teaching position. As Gotham Schools reports, they are now organizing. Matthew Rudansky, a teaching fellow speaking for a group of Fellows that have banded together, explains the situation below:
By no fault of our own, we face December 5th dismissal from a program for which many of us have made huge sacrifices. Fellows in the Reserves picked up their lives and shouldered huge expenses to relocate to New York so they could teach children in our neediest public schools. Now these same noble people face uncertain futures and housing costs they possibly cannot afford a short few months into their leases. Others, like me, left stable careers because we bought into the Fellows' pitch that we'll make excellent teachers owing to our impressive professional and life experiences. I personally know three PhDs in the Reserves and another four with Masters degrees. It is strange that these qualified candidates haven't secured permanent jobs. Now the DOE would prefer we simply disappear. And stranger still, that despite a hiring freeze, the Fellows Program continues to recruit even when the ATR and RTR total over 1400 teachers.

USA Today reported [last] week that the Wall Street bust will be a NYC Teaching Fellows boon. The Program expects a spike in highly qualified candidates from all those bright people laid off from the shrinking financial sector. And we should simply go quietly into the night? It all smacks of further poor planning; the DOE disregarded the economic realities last spring hiring 1800 Fellows and more Teach for America applicants. And now we suffer not only the fallout from these Fellow Program miscalculations and DOE missteps, but also the humiliation they'll hire a batch of new Fellows while showing us the door.
2) Broader, Bolder Plan to Address Absenteeism?: 20% of New York City elementary schoolers missed more than a month of school last year. I'm sure these kiddos enjoyed the fruits of the accountability revolution in NYC from home. Gotham Schools has a nice map up and the summary.

3) Dorn-onomics: A debate up over at Sherman Dorn's on educators as rational calculators is worth checking out. The two of us teamed up in this TC Record commentary to dispel local tall-tales about the closing achievement gap in New York City. And in the comments of Dorn's post, we learn that economist of education Jenn Imazeki has a blog, Economics for Teachers.
6 Comments

Thanks for the link love eduwonkette! Guess I better get some decent posts up... :-)

If it's 20% for elementary school kids, can you imagine what the "real" numbers are for high schoolers? But, that's okay, the NYCDOE has "credit recovery" to deal with that.

Thanks for the link but ... DORNONOMICS??? Yikes.

We love Gotham Schools, but anyone interested in seeing the absentee report can go directly to it at the Center for New York City Affairs website (www.centernyc.org). And, yes, we do include the "real" high school numbers as well. They are quite large and worth checking out. I would love hear from the Eduwonkette audience since this blog has been an inspiration for my data work.


I certainly can empathize with the difficult conditions that this latest group of Fellows are encountering. But perhaps I see the issue through a different lens than most.

I joined the Fellows a number of years ago as a "Midyear" Fellows. At the time, I was required to consent to a list of conditions attendant to my admission, including one that provided a specific date by which I was required to find a school placement. Like other midyear Fellows who have been subsequently admitted, I agreed to find a placement with full knowledge of my responsibilities and the consequences that might result. I did not take the matter lightly, and only accepted the offer having a plan should I be unable to find a placement.

Unlike the current Fellows protesting, midyear Fellows were not provided with any cushion at the commencement of training. We were allowed to work as OPDs (occasional per diems - substitutes) at the hourly rate. We did not receive a full salary, any health insurance, or any of the benefits of the UFT Welfare Plan. And yes, we all took that risk with full knowledge of the attendant risks.

Each and every one of the Fellows now protesting agreed to similarly specific terms, but with far greater benefits while they search for a position. I can not speculate regarding the DOE's projection of vacancies. I wish these Fellows all the best in their pursuit for positions (many of whom I have helped find appointments through contacts), but feel that the matter must be framed in context.

Technically, it appears that the city has the right to fire any NYCTF members w/o a placement by Dec. 5th. But I have to say that I would be beyond upset if I were one of those people who didn't have a placement yet.

When I signed up for NYCTF I was under the distinct impression that there was such an urgent need for teachers that the district was pulling out all stops to hire them -- including hiring idealistic 22 year-olds like myself (then) and other people with no classroom experience and, frankly, no idea what they were getting themselves into. It's a big decision for a lot of these people to do the teaching fellows, and a big part of a lot of these people's decision is that they think they're needed. It appears as though they're really not (unless the staffing system is just horribly inefficient) and for that I would fault the city for what amounts to false advertising.

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  • Corey: Technically, it appears that the city has the right to read more
  • Fellow: I certainly can empathize with the difficult conditions that read more
  • Kim Nauer: We love Gotham Schools, but anyone interested in seeing the read more
  • Sherman Dorn: Thanks for the link but ... DORNONOMICS??? Yikes. read more
  • Pogue: If it's 20% for elementary school kids, can you imagine read more

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