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A father in higher education chastises Joel Klein on the freeze

A father of one of the frozen-out teachers-to-be who works in higher education sent us a letter today that he requested we forward to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. The letter chastises Klein for essentially revoking hiring decisions so late in the school year, long after many teachers-to-be have already found apartments and stopped looking for other jobs.

The father writes that in higher education, “we take care not to waver from the commitments that we have made to our people and new hires,” despite serious budget pressures. He asks why the New York City public schools would not do the same.

The father gave me permission to publish the letter in partially edited form to keep his and his child’s identity anonymous.

UPDATE: Klein just wrote to me in an e-mail that he hopes to find fall jobs for teachers in the program this man’s child is in, Math For America. “We will work with them to find them jobs,” Klein wrote. “We said at the outset there would be exceptions — e.g. new schools — and this is a group that we want to place given their training and support and our challenges in finding math teachers.”

Math For America places recent college graduates and career-changers who are talented at math in inner-city schools. Fellows in the program have to make a five-year commitment to teaching in public schools, in exchange for close mentoring and support from master teachers in the program.

Here’s the father’s letter to Klein:

Dear Dr. Klein:

I am writing you as a parent of a student in the Math for America program who was hired only last week as a teacher in a Manhatten high school, but due to the hiring freeze you announced yesterday his job offer has been withdrawn. What are he and other students in the program supposed to do this late in the year? The program requires them to teach in NYC high schools for 4 years but now they are left with no alternatives. Many of them have rented apartments in anticipation of starting their jobs in the fall. Who is going to pay their rent? Have you considered the adverse consequences on these poor victims in announcing the hiring freeze so late in the year?

As somebody who is in higher education, I am facing the same budget crunches. However, we take care not to waver from the commitments that we have made to our people and new hires. Any hiring freezes should be announced at the beginning of the school year and should not be retroactive.

Thank you very much.


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