Philly school board approves Teach for America deal, after some dispute

Mike DeNardo
March 02, 2020 - 4:00 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The School District of Philadelphia is contracting with the nonprofit Teach for America to help recruit teachers. But the decision wasn't a slam dunk.

It's long been a challenge for the district to recruit teachers for hard-to-staff schools -- especially teachers of color. The school board Thursday night voted to approve a two-year, $350,000 contract with Teach for America, which provides alternative training and certification. 

Asked Persia Ali, a Philly teacher who went through TFA's 5-week training, and endorsed the program before the school board Thursday night, "Why would you not want to continue a partnership with an organization that helps recruit and retain talent in high-needs schools?"

But board member Chris McGinley replied he believes TFA wants to dismantle public education.

"While I respect your service greatly, I do not respect the TFA organization," he expressed further, "the model it uses, or the alliances that the organization has with healthy funders dedicated to undermining public education, undermining the rights of workers, and driving more and more toward privatization of public education."

The contract was approved by a 5-3 vote. Under the deal, TFA could provide up to 20 teachers a year.  McGinley said it was "not a cost-effective investment."