I was puzzled by this article by Washington Post national education reporter Valerie Strauss. She relays an account from a Baltimore teacher (that came via Diane Ravitch) about how he/she was almost squeezed out of a job because the city was hiring all these Teach For America teachers and teachers from The Baltimore City Teacher Residency. Sounded too good to be true. Or from Strauss’ point of view, too good to check as they say. In fact, the email touched all the right talking anti-TFA talking points and sounded like a thinly veiled attack on the two reform-oriented prep programs operating in the city – the residency is an initiative of The New Teacher Project.
And in fact, well, it is. When you look at data on hiring in Baltimore it looks like while Teach For America provided 160 teachers in Baltimore in ’09 and ’10, the city hired 584 new teachers in ’09 and 477 this year (with 37 vacancies still open as of August so presumably some of those have been filled, too). Meanwhile, here’s a New York Times story on Baltimore hiring teachers from overseas because they can’t find enough… For its part the Baltimore City Teacher Residency, which launched in the early part of the decade, seems to provide about 20 percent of the district’s teachers.
As a function of their size big city districts hire a lot of teachers from multiple sources each year, which is why you should always be skeptical when any particular pipeline is singled out as representative of anything. In Baltimore, given those numbers, it seems ridiculous to blame these two routes for making it really difficult to find a job. Hundreds apparently didn’t have that problem…And again, the research is quite clear that teachers entering teaching through these routes do as well or better than others. The variance is within the different routes not between routes.
Strauss can’t be bothered to explain any of this context. Nor any context or analysis on a host of other claims in the email, which is reprinted verbatim and anonymously. In The Washington Post. Really.