For the Record: Teach for America placement

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Where Teach for America teachers go

Graphic by Christine Wachter

The mass teacher layoffs this year that resulted from school closings and budget cuts have focused more attention on the district’s relationship with Teach for America and the growing presence of its teachers in CPS schools.

 

Though some talk swirled in the broader school community that cheaper TFA teachers would replace laid-off veterans, those concerns appear to be for the most part unfounded. The majority of TFA teachers end up in charter schools and fewer than 10 percent land in schools run by Academy for Urban School Leadership. AUSL runs a majority of turnaround schools, where one can most easily make the argument that they are “replacing” seasoned teachers let go as part of the turnaround.

 

About 24 percent end up in other schools.

 

Though the number of TFA teachers remains small compared to the size of the district-wide teaching force, CPS is steadily increasing the numbers—and the size of its TFA contracts.

 

This summer, CPS upped its contract to $1.6 million, from $1.3 million in 2012 and just $600,000 in 2011. The money pays for a “referral fee,” a payment to TFA of about $3,000 for every teacher who is hired by a Chicago principal.

 

Data provided by TFA show that 313 first- and second-year corps members – 59 percent of all TFA teachers in the district – work in charter schools. Among TFA alumni, 50 to 60 percent are in charters – another 450 teachers.

 

TFA also has 58 alumni who are principals in Chicago, eight of whom work for the Noble Network of Charter Schools.

 

Josh Anderson, director of Teach for America—Chicago, says there are two factors driving the trend. One is that charter schools hire earlier. Another is that layoffs in the summer of 2010 wiped out the jobs of 95 percent of Teach for America teachers who were in neighborhood schools.

 

Anderson says that 90 percent of TFA teachers complete their first two years in the program, and two-thirds of those stay for a third year – adding up to an overall three-year retention rate of 60 percent. (Teachers in the program are required to serve for two years.)

 

What’s more, Anderson says, teachers who start in charters actually have a higher retention rate in the profession than those who start in neighborhood schools. That may be because they see a pathway to increased responsibilities or are more likely to feel that charter schools have a “performance culture,” he says.

 

Including charter, neighborhood and turnaround schools, the largest share of TFA corps members teach in several West Side neighborhoods. But plans to hone in on fewer neighborhoods – with the goal of placing larger clusters of TFA teachers in a small group of schools– did not come to fruition because of the slow pace of hiring in the district.

 

Neighborhoods with the most Teach for America members

GAGE PARK

45

NORTH LAWNDALE

42

EAST GARFIELD PARK

38

AUBURN GRESHAM

29

HUMBOLDT PARK

27

NEAR WEST SIDE

27

AUSTIN

19

ENGLEWOOD

19

ROGERS PARK

17

BRONZEVILLE

16

WEST TOWN

16

GREATER GRAND CROSSING

14

LOWER WEST SIDE

14

SOUTH SHORE

13

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS

13

 

SOURCE: Teach for America – Chicago