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Louisiana’s Teach for America Contracts: Not As Lucrative as They Used to Be, But Still There.

February 28, 2019

On February 22, 2019, I submitted a public records request for “all contracts between the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) and Teach for America (TFA) from 2016 to date.”

The result yielded four contracts between LDOE and TFA:

The objectives of these continuously-issued TFA contracts includes “sustaining a TFA presence across Louisiana.” From the 2015-16 contract:

Objectives:

  1. To place approximately 380 Teach for America corps members in high needs public schools serving low-income populations in Southen Louisiana and the Louisiana Delta, within the following Parishes: Ascension, Avoyelles, Concordia, East Baton Rouge, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Iberville, Jefferson, Madison, Orleans, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Helena, and Tensas.
  2. To support these corps members, through ongoing professional development and support, to achieve ambitious and measurable results with students.
  3. To work with the Louisiana Department of Education to sustain Teach for America’s teacher and alumni presence across Louisiana.

In 2016-17, the same 14 parishes were listed, but the number of TFA recruits dropped to 285. However, in both 2015-16 and 2016-17, the contract amount remained the same: $500,000 to TFA.

In 2017-18, Avoyelles and Iberville parishes were dropped, and even though the number of TFA recruits was also decreased to 268, the price tag payable to TFA rose to $580,000.

However, in 2018-19, TFA went on sale. The number of parishes dropped notably, to eight: Ascension, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Jefferson, Orleans, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, and St. Helena. Moreover, even though the number of TFA recruits increased to 297, the total payment to TFA decreased to $400,000.

Keep in mind that a major goal of TFA in its LDOE contract is to continue to foster a TFA presence in Louisiana:

Teach for America will additionally increase the capacity of its alumni base through recruitment pipelines and programming that facilitates mentorship, community-building, and career development. The Teach for America Louisiana program offices will work to support alumni of the Teach for America program in the region who continue in the teaching profession, and will also support alumni in middle leadership, school leadership, school system leadership, and policy and advocacy roles. This work will also include leveraging the expertise and relationships of the Teach for America regional alums to enrich the experience of current corps members.

… To sustain and potentially grow Teach for America’s statewide placements will require our organization to secure significant funding and support which may include increased state monies, and as such, Teach for America will partner with the state to help build partnerships and identify new opportunities to sustain and grow the organization’s presence.

TFA wants to grow its presence in Louisiana, and they might need increased state monies to do so.

TFA specializes in offering speedily-trained temp teachers that it actively works to network into positions of influence over public education in order to continue to feed itself at the expense of stabilized local education systems founded on career classroom teachers.

The degree of TFA presence in a school district is inversely related to the stability of that school district because a TFA presence is an ever-revolving door. However, TFA is willing to continue to promote its temp-teacher instability in local districts in order to feed its own stability. Temp-teacher TFA actively seeks to make itself permanent in Louisiana. So saith its contracts.

However, as noted in its contacts from 2015-16 to 2018-19, TFA has arguably lost ground in Louisiana, both in the number of Louisiana parishes in which it has a presence (down from 14 to 8) as well as the amount of total money paid (at its lowest in 2018-19 despite a higher number of recruits in the contract).

In the past four years (2015-16 to 2018-19), none of the TFA contracts have approached the lucrative nature of previous TFA contracts that I have examined, including a whopper in 2013 for $1.2M for 51 TFAers (see this post). The October 17, 2018, Advocate article on Louisiana’s 2018-19 TFA contract references this million-dollar contract:

A $400,000 state contract with Teach for American won approval Wednesday morning by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. …

The only issue during committee discussion Tuesday focused on the fact that all 297 teachers will work in schools south of Interstate 10.

BESE President Gary Jones, who lives near Alexandria, questioned why north Louisiana is not in line for TFA teachers. …

A TFA official told the board the lack of funding is the stumbling block, and that TFA recruits previously worked in Delta parishes when the state had a $1 million contract with the group.

State Superintendent of Education John White said Mississippi and Texas are spending about 10 times for TFA compared to Louisiana.

White said that makes it hard to recruit teachers from the group.

“This is not a BESE issue,” he said. “It is a legislative issue.”

BESE member Doris Voitier, who is also superintendent of the St. Bernard Parish School District, said TFA funding points up a larger issue — a declining number of teachers nationwide.

“We desperately need that talent, to look at K-12 education,” Voitier said of college students.

Restricting the flow of Louisiana taxpayer dollars to expansion-seeking TFA is “not a BESE (state board) issue”– the implication being that if it were “a BESE issue,” more money would be funneled to TFA. (Note that the one complaining about TFAers being concentrated south of Interstate 10, BESE president Gary Jones, is the one whose signature is on the 2018-19 TFA contract as the one approving LDOE contracts over $50,000.)

No doubt that White, a former TFAer whose continued involvement with the organization has him attending its board meetings, is working to keep the wheels of the TFA machine in Louisiana turning. And BESE president Jones is fretting about no north-of-I-10, Louisiana TFA presence.

And, so far, no 2019 legislative effort to beef up TFA funding.

Good.

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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

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From → BESE, John White, LDOE, TFA

2 Comments
  1. Debbie Wiltse permalink

    Especially since it looks like teachers will not be receiving a pay increase due to “lack of funding”.

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