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April 23, 2014

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Despite layoffs, board OKs hiring 50 Teach for America teachers; action irks union president

Despite laying off hundreds of teachers this month, the Clark County School Board voted Thursday to hire 50 new Teach For America teachers in "high-need, hard-to-fill and at-risk schools areas."

Founded in 1990, Teach For America is a national teacher corps of recent college graduates who commit two years to helping at-risk children in disadvantaged communities. Last year, more than 9,000 corps members taught in 43 rural and urban regions across the country.

The nonprofit organization has partnered with the School District since the 2004-05 school year. Since that initial agreement, about 450 corps members have been hired in Clark County.

Currently, there are 105 former Teach For America teachers working in the district, as well as 44 first-year and 35 second-year corps teachers in Clark County classrooms.

The contract renewal will cost the district $2,500 per teacher per year, or $250,000 over two years. Teach for America funds part of the training and licensure for corps members and has agreed to waive costs for an additional 40 more teachers in hard-to-fill areas.

The announcement of teacher hires came just a week after the School District sent pink slips to 419 teachers to close a $64 million budget gap. That timing worried some School Board members, including Chris Garvey and Lorraine Alderman.

Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones assuaged board members' fears by promising to first hire back teachers who have been laid off — before hiring a Teach For America corps members — and looking into a study that could compare regular and Teach For America teachers.

Still, the Teach For America funding irked Ruben Murillo, the local teachers union president.

"That money could go a long way," Murillo said, adding that $250,000 equals four teacher positions.

However, Clark County spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson said the funds were a "sound investment in academic achievement."

"This investment will help offset a small portion of the costs Teach For America incurs to recruit, select, train and support effective teachers for high-need schools," she said in a statement.

Dickens Elementary School Principal Carolyn King said her North Las Vegas school benefited greatly from its two Teach For America teachers. King attributed reading and math gains to these younger teachers.

"We're very proud of our corps members," she said. "They are leaders in our buildings."

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  1. Would that be the same Amanda Fulkerson who heads a 12 person communications office with a personnel cost of pay and benefits for 2011 of almost 700,000?

    Using the current telephone book for CCSD and the Transparent Nevada salary information for CCSD for 2011, I found the salaries and benefits paid for the following people in the CCSD Communications Office.

    Chief Communications Officer, Amanda Fulkerson, 51,209 (she was only employed for part of 2011)(Salary is over 100k)

    Director, Cynthia Sell 123,290.99

    Coordinator III, Michael T. Rodriguez, 103,033.75

    Public Information Specialist, David Roddy, 98,481.06

    Public Information Specialist, Dave Sheehan, 104,389.96

    Public Information Specialist, Penny Ramos-Bennett, 70,332.10

    Public Information Specialist, Melinda Malone, no information available, probably not hired until 2012

    Communications Assistant, Anthony Springer, no information available, probably not hired until 2012

    Photographer, Michele Nelson, 69,928.21

    Graphic Artist II, position vacant

    Officer Supervisor, Loreasa Nary, 55,262.63

    Secretary III, Jacquelyn Robinson, 64,009.61

    Office Specialist II, Keely Brown, 61,177.34

    Total cost for pay and benefits for 2011 is $696,724.99 with three positions with salary data not available.

    Just as a point of comparision, the maximum pay for a teacher with a PHD and maximum experience with benefits is 93,785. There are at least 5 people in the communications office that make as much if not more that amount. How many students does that office teach?

    This is a link to the CCSD phone book.
    http://ccsd.net/district/directory/resou......
    This is a link to Transparent Nevada.
    http://transparentnevada.com/salaries/cl......
    I was able to find the information in about 15 minutes.

  2. Prior to the vote, did the superintendent disclose that the former executive director for Teach for America works for him as a consultant? In her campaign literature, Allison Serafin made a point of being a consultant working with Superintendent Jones.

  3. Lets see, 50 versus 4. Excellent usage of tax payer money!

  4. Westvegas, If you reread the article and think about it you'll realize that the $250,000 only covers a contract with "Teach for America" to provide 50 of their "approved" teachers to be hired by the school district. The district has to pay the new teachers the standard pay and benefit package. So the school district says they "have no money and have to lay off teachers", and yet they have the money to commit to hiring new teachers.

  5. Let's do the math. Since 2004, CCSD has hired about 450 TFA "teachers".

    Currently, there are 105 working for the district (whatever that means). We are going to assume they are still in the classroom/working with children, since the article is unclear on what they are doing now. There are 44 first year "teachers" and 35 second year TFA "teachers" still in classrooms. 105+44+35= 184.

    There are only 184 TFA "teachers" still working out of 450 hired. 450-184=266. 59% of TFA "teachers" hired by CCSD have left.

    That's not the good part. Here's the kicker. CCSD had to pay $5,000/2 years for those TFA "teachers'" contracts as well.

    For our purposes, we will assume they only had to pay $5,000 for only the first 2 years the "teachers" worked in CCSD since the article is unclear as to how long exactly CCSD has to pay $2,500.

    $5,000 x 266 teachers= $1,330,000. CCSD paid ONE MILLION THREE HUNDRED THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS to TFA for teachers who LEFT THE CLASSROOM.

    Then comes the research. You can find links to 3 research results here:
    http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-...

    but to highlight some of the findings:
    "In a series of regression analyses looking at 4th and 5th grade student achievement gains on six different reading and mathematics tests over a six-year period, we find that certified teachers consistently produce stronger student achievement gains than do uncertified teachers. These findings hold for TFA recruits as well as others. Controlling for teacher experience, degrees, and student characteristics, uncertified TFA recruits are less effective than certified teachers, and perform about as well as other uncertified teachers."

    And: "Uncertified TFA teachers showed significant negative effects on student achievement in five of six estimates (and the sixth also has a negative coefficient.)"

    Then comes the real eye opener. 50% of TFA "teachers" leave after 2 years, and 80% leave after 3 years. And those statistics are readily available in numerous studies.

    Knowing from research (and our own district's experience!!!) that only a small percent of TFA "teachers" stick it out past 3 years why would a school district invest in TFA?

    Why, when knowing that the TFA "teachers" aren't going to stay and aren't really the best at raising student knowledge and performance, are they placed in the schools with populations that need stability the most? Why are they placed in schools that need the strongest teachers? Why are they placed in the schools that need the teachers with the best content and pedagogical knowledge?

    And why are they hired after 419 certified and experienced teachers are given pink slips????

    In my world, that is a bad investment all around. A bad investment money wise and a bad investment in our children's futures.

  6. "The question for most districts, [obviously NOT CCSD], is whether TFA teachers do as well as or better than credentialed non-TFA teachers with whom school districts aim to staff their schools. On this question, studies indicate that the students of novice TFA teachers perform significantly less well in reading and mathematics than those of credentialed beginning teachers."

    "More than 50% of TFA teachers leave after 2 years, and more than 80% leave after 3 years"

    This means that almost all TFA teachers leave the teaching profession after just a couple years and long before they learn how to be better teachers.

    In essence, TFA are throw away teachers that school districts use when they want to destroy collective bargaining or when they need to fill a hiring gap.

    Nevada doesn't have a hiring gap. It DOES have a corporate funded Union Busting schedule being pushed by Nevada's financial elites and their lapdogs NPRI.

    Quotes are cited from "Teach For America: A Review of the Evidence" http://greatlakescenter.org/docs/Policy_...

  7. So we are shipping in "recent college graduates" with little to no experience in classrooms and sending them to work with the most challening student populations available and this is supposed to be a good thing?

    Nevermind the dollars and cents behind it, which, as others have pointed out, ends up costing the district MORE money, but the research also confirms that these inexperienced TFA teachers are less effective than their licensed counterparts.

    Have to love the way this district is being run. These teachers don't stay in the profession and overwhelmingly don't stay in the same district. Chalk this up to the fact that they are throwing unprepared teachers into the most difficult teaching circumstances, which traditionally offer very few resources to help new teachers. It's called burnout and its the reason why a large amount of "new teachers" never make it more than 5 years in the profession. I guess they'd rather spend the money on teachers that are all but guaranteed to leave?

  8. Once again this goes back to reality that there are no financial incentives for a teacher to work and stay in the inner city schools. Until experienced teachers are given more money to work with low-income and ELL students, you will continue to see a rush to the suburbs. This leaves a vacuum of jobs in high-needs areas and TFA fills that void with teachers who are energetic to work with these students.

  9. The district is actively spending money to recruit teachers in the areas of Math and Science, while simultaneously laying off-teachers. Instead of spending money recruiting teachers from across the country to fill these Math and Science positions, the district should work with the union to help the laid-off teachers become qualified to teach in these areas. For the most part, the difference between a typical teacher and the hard to fill Math and Science teacher is simply a PRAXIS test. A teacher with a k-8 license can teach any subject up to, and including, the 6th grade. Because of the No Child Left Behind law, those k-8 licensed teachers need to pass a very challenging PRAXIS content area (Math or Science) test before they are allowed to teach 7th and 8th grade Math or Science. Instead of sending retired principals and HR people around the country (Each recruiting trip cost the district from $3,500 to $5,000) to fill these Math and Science positions, the district should spend the money helping the laid-off teachers pass the appropriate Math and Science PRAXIS exams so they can fill those hard to fill Math and Science potions. Here's a situation in which the union and district can work together to meet the needs of the students.

  10. It seems as if Mr. Jones "innovative approach" to the top contains fragments of the good ole boy network. He renews a contract with Edison Schools for 7.6 million dollars although the Edison Schools have shown little or no (tepid, as the Sun describes it..) gain for our students. He proceeds to lay off over 400 teachers and contracts with Teach For American at a rate of 250,000 per year when research shows little or no gains for our students.
    What is wrong with this picture?
    I would be all for privatizing education if it showed results. These are two examples of throwing dollars at "data driven, research based", bad results.
    If we are a data driven school district, Mr. Jones should follow his own advice, read the research and invest those dollars into credible, successful, research proven methods to increase the achievement of students in our district.

  11. Lets Just Pass a Law (Clark County) that enforces that - 90% (Pick Your Number) of all monies CCSD receives must be spent on Direct Student Education and the 2% lowest performing Teachers/Principals will be Fired Every Year. If Student gets more than ???? Warnings, they will be sent to a Second Chance School - If no Student correction is made there, their Parents can pay for Private School.

  12. To add to Tanker 1975's comments, Amanda Fulkerson's salary is $130,632.

    Source: http://static.ccsd.net/ccsd/content/ccsd...

  13. Brian forget it. Teachers, all employees, must plan their own careers. They can pay for their own testing. Many people who would qualify to teach general ed are NOT GOOD with math, science. A little fore sight or don't these teachers have any?

  14. Commenter CNEV stated, "It seems as if Mr. Jones "innovative approach" to the top contains fragments of the good ole boy network. He renews a contract with Edison Schools for 7.6 million dollars although the Edison Schools have shown little or no (tepid, as the Sun describes it..) gain for our students. He proceeds to lay off over 400 teachers and contracts with Teach For American at a rate of 250,000 per year when research shows little or no gains for our students.
    What is wrong with this picture?
    I would be all for privatizing education if it showed results. These are two examples of throwing dollars at "data driven, research based", bad results.
    If we are a data driven school district, Mr. Jones should follow his own advice, read the research and invest those dollars into credible, successful, research proven methods to increase the achievement of students in our district."

    It looks like citizens are now getting "The Plan" revealed to them. Many schools throughout the district have lost a large portion of their staffs, and such positions are being opened up to long-term substitutes, Teach for America candidates, and surplused staff this year. We have real human beings here who live here and are an active part of our communities. Can you imagine what the morale is, and the level of motivation is, given HOW they are being valued and treated? It is a recipe for disaster, and lower student outcomes. And ALL teachers will be blamed over something for which they personally have no control over other than "following The PLAN".

    Remember that the School Board is voted in, and they hired Superintendent Jones. Don't like what is going on? Citizens have tried to speak at Board Meetings, are they being heard?
    Citizens can have a "say" through their vote at election time.

    Over the years, since 2004, I have witnessed Teach for America participants come and go. Some quit the teaching profession altogether, and some simply leave Nevada because of the political lack of priorities. These are some good-hearted people who want to make a difference as do the rest of us. Now, they are being used a pawns in "The Plan". At least they will be fully aware of it now.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  15. Are any of those Teach for America hires going to the Turn-Around schools? If they do, does that violate the requirements of the Federal grants those schools got? If the Teach for America teachers go to turn around schools are they eligible for the bonuses for teachers in those schools?

    The other issue is why would you want an inexperienced teacher going to teach at risk students?

  16. @Tanker1975:

    Thanks for your comments.

    Last I checked with TFA's local executive director Victor Wakefield, there were no TFA corps members teaching at any of the "turnaround" schools.