N. Carolina's Durham school board to drop TFA contract

Dive Brief:

  • The Durham, NC, school board voted (6-1) to drop its contract with Teach For America after the 2015-16 school year, when the 12 current corps members will have fulfilled their two-year commitments.
  • The main reason the board is severing ties with TFA is that it feels teachers in the program are generally inexperienced and unprepared, according to The Herald Sun. Teacher turnover and the instability caused when many TFA teachers leave the classroom were also among concerns.
  • The alternative certification program, founded in the 1990s, places recent college grads in some of the nation’s toughest school districts, with recruits receiving five weeks of training the summer before entering the classroom full-time.

Dive Insight:

“I have a problem with the two years and gone, using it like community service,” board member Mike Lee told The Herald Sun. While he is focused on the short commitment, other board members zeroed in on the lack of preparation, with board member Regina Holley calling it “a bit outrageous."

This is not the first time a district has decided to bow out of a TFA contract. In December, Pittsburgh's school board also voted not to renew its $750,000 contract with the organization. At the time, a representative from TFA's communication team told the Pittsburgh Gazette that this was the first time a region had changed its course and decided against TFA. This, however, is not true according to Washington Post columnist Valerie Strauss, who pointed out that in May 2013, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a line item tucked into a higher education bill that would have given TFA $1.5 million over two years. While that scenario is slightly different from a school board voting not to renew a contract, it shows an overall hesitancy to work with the organization and bring more of its recruits to a state.

Recommended Reading

The Washington Post : Why one school system is dropping Teach For America