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A surge of Teach For America teachers to charter schools

Teach for America, the program that places new teachers in hard-to-staff public schools, is planning to send nearly a third of its new New York City teachers to charter schools this fall, up from just 3% in 2005, internal TFA projections show.

The shift to charter schools insulates the latest batch of Teach For America teachers from a new-teacher hiring freeze the city announced earlier this month. Charter schools are publicly funded but privately operated, so they aren’t subject to the freeze and can hire any certified teacher, whether she is already in the Department of Education system or not.

The move follows a downsizing in Teach For America’s pool to about 300 from 500 teachers last year. The city’s dismal budget picture led to the retraction.

Kerci Marcello Stroud, a TFA spokeswoman, called the shift toward placing more teachers in charter schools “a natural progression.” As the number of charter schools has grown, so has the number of TFA teachers encouraged to work in them, she said.

The shift also means that far fewer Teach For America teachers are being placed at schools run by the Department of Education. TFA plans to place 230 teachers in DOE schools this fall, less than half as many as in 2008.

TFA placed teachers in charter schools for the first time in 2005, when 17 out of 505 teachers went to schools not operated by the city Department of Education.

The other program that places new and mostly untrained teachers into the public school system, Teaching Fellows, is still pumping a larger number of people into the schools, but its projected number — about 700 — is also down since last year, by half. Teaching Fellows does not allow its teachers to find jobs in charter schools.

“Teaching Fellows is designed to send teachers to DOE schools, and that’s a pattern that will continue even in this new environment,” said Ann Forte, a DOE spokeswoman.

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