It Seems Even Teach First Recruits Will Be Disposable

A very revealing story regarding the employment practices of Teach For America has emerged Stateside that has worrying implications for Teach First and other Teach For All organisation recruits.

In a New York Daily News article‘Amid threat of layoffs, city is recruiting 500 new teachers for next fall‘ we are told that ‘even as the threat of thousands of teacher layoffs looms, the city is preparing to hire 500 new ones for next fall’

From the article we discover that instead of retaining and retraining existing staff – that include among their number TFA recruits – NYC is employing 500 brand new staff (400 from New York City Teaching Fellows and 100 from Teach for America).

To one TFA recruit this beggars belief: “It’s mind-boggling that they’re hiring when I may lose my job,” said Marquis Harrison.

The iniquity doesn’t stop there, however, as lo-and-behold there are management consultants being paid to recruit these new staff behind the scenes. Paid $20 million to be exact.

“The mayor has the money and there should be no need for layoffs,” said United Federation of Teachers secretary Michael Mendel, arguing that the city should have a process in place to allow current teachers to get new certifications in shortage areas.

“Why wouldn’t you offer the opportunity to existing people to at least get the credentials? Why wouldn’t you want to have some kind of program in place to have people available to fill the needs of the system?”

To us, the reasoning for this is all too clear and all too predictable: Local administrations are using ‘charities’ like Teach For America – and potentially Teach First – to lower staffing costs.

Because who cares about costly retraining? That’s far too expensive. Authorities and TFA will also know that with an ample supply of would-be graduates looking to pay off their loans and unable to secure their dream job in the hardest youth job market in years, they can continue to recruit fresh and willing newbies, and recruit them at lower salaries to fully-trained teachers or existing TFA staff.

And when the current TFA staff are costing too much, their temporary contracts won’t be renewed and they will be replaced with fresh blood.

TFA doesn’t appear to care about what this means for school kids or the teachers as long as the funds keep coming in to pay for the next cohort. The authorities meanwhile are happy because they’ve saved public money.

But what is so surprising, however, is that this mutual back-scratching runs so deep that TFA willl even turn its backs on its own.

What more proof do we need that these Teach For All organisations are nothing more than temporary staff recruitment agencies for cash-strapped education departments?

And yet again we ask: Should a charity really be behaving this way? What educational disadvantage is being addressed by sacking more experienced staff – albeit undertrained – and replacing them with newbies? How do impoverished kids benefit from such a high turnover of staff or from having more experienced staff replaced with undertrained, inexperienced staff?

In the Brave New World of Education it seems then that no-one’s job is safe.

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