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NEA, AFT, TFA, Hiring, and Budgets

How about that headline for alphabet soup?

I've been getting a lot of mail on two recent blog items about the hiring of teachers in difficult times, and some of the concerns that unions have. Some of the comments are worth additional discussion, so I'm going to share them here.

In this item, I asked someone to explain the logic of laying off veterans and hiring Teach For America types. A couple of people, including commentator "Chris" below, directed me to this story out of North Carolina. The story says that Superintendent Peter Gorman plans to cut about 400 teachers overall in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, while hiring 100 Teach For America teachers.

The district does not have a collective bargaining agreement, and the story says that decisions about which teachers to remove will be based primarily on effectiveness. My understanding from sources who have seen the actual proposal is that officials hope the cuts will be limited to teachers who don't have tenure.

That point leads nicely into the second item, which deals with a letter on hiring sent by the New York City education department to education schools.

There was a rumor floating about that the city was saving open teaching spots for TFA grads. The city says that isn't so, but as several sources pointed out to me after I posted the letter, it does want to keep as many TFA teachers as possible:

The teachers in these various recruitment programs are not exempt from hiring restrictions nor do they have a job guarantee. However, as these candidates have all been identified after a rigorous and highly selective screening process, we will encourage schools with vacancies to give them priority consideration

Here, the key appears to be that districts like TFA's rigorous selection process. Not all schools of education have equally strong screening processes for their teachers.

So back to Charlotte-Mecklenburg. What is Gorman thinking in making this switch in the teaching force?

Another person wrote me to offer this suggestion: Given the rigorous TFA hiring process, perhaps Gorman is counting on those teachers being more effective than the ones who would otherwise get those positions, even if TFA teachers stay in teaching for fewer years than other hires might.

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