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Bronx president urges no vote on teacher recruitment contract

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. called on the citywide school board to postpone or vote down a contract that would pay an outside group to recruit new teachers, saying today that it “does not make any sense” with impending layoffs.

The contract, which the Panel for Educational Policy will vote on at tomorrow’s meeting, would pay The New Teacher Project a maximum of $4.9 million to recruit and train New York City Teaching Fellows. In a statement sent to reporters, Diaz said the money should be used to stave off layoffs rather than bring in new teachers. If Diaz’s appointee votes against the contract, she’ll likely be joined by panel member Patrick Sullivan, who criticized the contract in the Daily News.

But Department of Education officials have said that new teachers will be needed to fill vacancies in areas like science and special education regardless of layoffs. To meet this anticipated need, the roughly 450 Teaching Fellows who will enter the job market this summer will only be certified in either of those two subjects.

The majority of them plan to work in special education and 100 will teach science. Of those with special education licenses, 225 will look to work in secondary special education, 100 in District 75 schools, and 25 in bilingual special education.

Because the city pays TNTP based on how many of its recruits it eventually hires, the payments have dropped significantly over the last several years as school budgets have tightened and hiring has slowed. This school year, the city paid the organization $2.8 million, down from $4.1 million in 2007.

The payment next school year will be even smaller, said Ann Forte, a spokeswoman for the DOE, as the incoming group of follows has gone from 705 this year to 450 next year.

Forte said having The New Teacher Project — an non-profit that also studies teacher job markets around the country — manage the recruitment process saves the department money.

“The teacher recruitment office does not have the capacity to read through several thousand applications, coordinate alumni interviews, and respond to these people,” Forte said. “If they did, they’d have to bring in additional staff they maybe wouldn’t need for the next year. It gives us a very flexible staffing model.”

STATEMENT FROM BRONX BOROUGH PRESIDENT RUBEN DIAZ JR.

RE: Panel for Educational Policy Contract Vote

“Tomorrow, the Panel for Educational Policy will be voting on 24 vendor contracts, one of which is a nearly $5 million contract to recruit and train new teachers as part of the New York City Teaching Fellow’s program. I do not understand why, at a time when we are facing the loss of thousands of teachers due to budget cuts, we are not using these funds to preserve the teaching positions we currently have. This does not make any sense, and illustrates extremely poor planning and judgment by the Department of Education. Instead of spending $5 million looking for new teachers, I would think that the DOE should spend that money keeping the ones we already have.

“I have asked my representative to the Panel for Educational Policy to call for a postponement on voting on this item at Tuesday’s meeting and am hopeful that the Department of Education will seriously consider our request. If that postponement is not forthcoming, I have asked her to vote against this contract,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

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