Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (LD-6) recently introduced A-2032, a bill that would establish a teacher recruitment grant program in the New Jersey Department of Education. This program would provide $2 million over three years to recruit, train, and place new teachers in high poverty districts. The bill was believed to have been introduced at the request of Teach for America (TFA) and it is similar to ALEC-endorsed bills that have been introduced in other states. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a nonprofit organization, composed primarily of conservative state legislators and private sector representatives, which generates model legislation that can be introduced in state legislatures.
NJEA is concerned that this bill ignores the fact that there are many highly-qualified, certified, and trained teachers who would be willing to work in high poverty districts. In addition, there is no evidence to support the claim that organizations such as Teach for America make a significant impact on student achievement. Although TFA was touted for the success of its recruits in the classroom, TFA has acknowledged the statistics were not reliable. Outside research has been inconclusive.
Since TFA recruits have no prior teaching experience, university-based courses in education, or certification upon entry into the program, they have no commitment to teaching as a long-term profession. TFA recruits also have a high rate of leaving the program before completing their two-year commitment.
Finally, costs to districts are expensive and unnecessary. Although TFA claims to be a non-profit organization, it raised $905 million in foundation grants, corporate gifts, and government funding between 2006 and 2010. According to published news reports, Teach For America charges school districts $2,000 to $5,000 for every recruit it places in their schools.