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Renton Schools, Teach for America Reach Hiring Agreement

The district will be able to place TFA teachers in openings in high-poverty schools.

The Renton School Board approved an agreement Wednesday night that would let the district hire teachers through the Teach for America program, which places recent college graduates into classrooms in low-income communities for a two-year stint.

The board voted 5-0 to approve the memorandum of understanding agreement with Teach for America. The agreement is also attached as a pdf to this story. on the board's earlier study session.

KUOW had a conversation with Renton Schools spokesman Randy Matheson ahead of Wednesday’s vote, in which Matheson explained that “the district wants to open the hiring process to uncertified TFA applicants because the district has trouble finding enough qualified candidates.”

Phyllis Silling, president of the Renton Education Association teachers union, told KUOW that there are plenty of highly qualified, fully certified teachers in the region who need jobs.

The KUOW story also said the district had already hired a TFA teacher before Wednesday night's vote.

Teach for America is in the Seattle and Federal Way schools. The Seattle Times looked at the rocky first year of Teach for America’s presence in the Seattle School District, which included the filling of a lawsuit by opponents.

We know Teach for America has its supporters and detractors. What do you think? Should Renton Schools utilize the TFA program to fill teaching positions? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.

Renate Beedon September 13, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Why can't the Renton School district not find enough qualified candidates? I don't know much about the program, but I would think that fresh young college graduates bring fresh air and new ideas to the class room. I think it's a great opportunity for the graduates and the students.
Margaret Santjer September 13, 2012 at 09:53 PM
We've updated the link on the board vote to include the latest statement from the School District. It includes some more details on the one Teach for America teacher who has been hired, as well as information on the University of Washington training program that TFA teachers go through. You can also read it here: http://www.rentonschools.us/FILES/DISTRICT/Community%20Relations/PressRelease_School_Board_approves_TFA_agreement_9_13_2012.pdf
Margaret Santjer September 13, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Renate, According to the district's latest statement on the TFA vote, the district still had 16 unfilled positions in areas including special education and kindergarten after the first week of school.
SodaPapa September 14, 2012 at 12:49 AM
The board, and human resources. was secretive and not entirely forthcoming in exactly WHY this was called a "difficult to fill position." the position was for a Language Arts/Social Studies teacher (not hard to fill by any stretch of the imagination). Knowing your field of study does NOT enable you to teach it. This takes training, mentoring, and experience. Imagine this teachers first encounter with a student diagnosed with a disability. Will they know HOW to accommodate, or will they go running to the teacher who is certified and still paying off student loans? These people get a free ride to pay for there education and 80% leave by the 3rd year!!! What "fresh air" are you breathing in?
kan123 October 04, 2012 at 09:16 PM
SodaPapa - please check your facts. Over 60% of TFA teachers stay for a third year, in fact the second year retention rate is HIGHER among TFA teachers than traditionally trained teachers. Additionally, every peer reviewed study has found that TFA teachers are as effective or more effective than traditionally trained teachers. Your argument is based on an outdated archetype that is not rooted in fact. Additionally, why are you bashing on folks that want to be teachers when other people aren't applying for the job (regardless if it has the "difficult to fill" label)? Isn't more energy and innovation around education a good thing? Our current system isn't working and if we aren't willing to change we will continue to perpetuate the same cycles of disparity and poverty.
Liz December 12, 2012 at 02:08 AM
No all TFA are fresh out-of-school teachers with no experience. Some have completed a degree in education. I just applied for TFA and I have a doctorate in science, have taught undergrad courses, and spent a year in an underserved school teaching 7th grade science. We are also evaluated with the 70-200 applicants for each position; we are not guaranteed positions as TFA corps members.

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