Teacher Preparation

Is N.Y.C. Prioritizing TFA for Hiring?

By Stephen Sawchuk — May 18, 2009 5 min read
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That’s basically what American Federation of Teachers prez Randi Weingarten indicates in this letter to the district, reports Elizabeth Green at Gotham Schools.

Although principals are supposed to be hiring new teachers from the Absent Teacher Reserve pool of excessed teachers, schools can hire from other sources if they can’t find a teacher of a high-need field from the ATR. In her letter, Weingarten intimates that the district is prioritizing teachers trained through alternative routes such as Teacher For America and New York City Teaching Fellows over traditional ed. school graduates.

But a source just passed along an e-mail the district sent to the city’s colleges of education. (It’s a long one, so you’ll have to click below to read the whole thing.) In sum, it encourages the teacher colleges to make sure their graduates are aware of openings.
Dear Colleagues –

I am writing to update you on teacher hiring for the NYC Department of Education (NYC DOE) for the 2009-2010 school year. As you have probably heard by now, with significant cuts likely to school budgets, Chancellor Klein announced hiring restrictions on virtually all school positions. What this means is that, at this time, schools can only consider current employees to fill vacancies – these would be teachers seeking a transfer or teachers in excess. Our goal is to be able to absorb the cuts without resorting to layoffs or an unsustainable increase in the teachers who are in excess.

While there will almost certainly be less hiring of new teachers than in past years, we still anticipate that there will be vacancies that cannot be filled by current staff. As budgets are finalized and teacher movement settles, the new hire restrictions may be lifted for subject and geographic areas where we identify such remaining vacancies. (There are some current exceptions which are outlined at the bottom of this message.) We anticipate those positions will most likely be in high need subject areas and hard-to-staff geographic areas. In addition, most new teacher hiring will happen later in the summer or close to the start of the school year.

I realize that this may be discouraging news for your school community and, in particular, your new graduates. We ask that you reinforce that there will still be some hiring. In addition, there are some positives here including that these restrictions help us retain qualified staff – including your previous graduates – and provide our students with a more experienced workforce than in typical years. That said, it is our hope that the economic challenges and consequent budget constraints will be short lived and that our schools can have the necessary resources to effectively support dramatic gains in student achievement.

There are several other implications of the diminished hiring need that are important for you to be aware of:

Application Deadline: Because our overall hiring need is much more limited, we will be closing our application for new candidates on Monday, June 8 at 5:00 p.m. We ask that you assist us in disseminating the information about this deadline to your new graduates. While it is possible we will reopen the application for targeted subject areas, based on current interest we think this is unlikely. By applying, quality candidates can be added to our New Teacher Finder system where principals who have vacancies can search and screen their application. In addition, screened applicants will have access to information and updates on the hiring restrictions and to potential job opportunities.

Recruitment Programs: We are still proceeding with a Teaching Fellows and a Teach For America cohort, although both programs will be substantially smaller than last year (approximately half the size) and focused even more on high need subject areas. In addition, we will continue with the screening of teachers for TRQ Select - a group of approximately 250 traditionally certified candidates who have demonstrated the highest potential for being exemplary teachers. There are also some candidates in smaller NYC DOE sponsored scholarship and partnership programs who will be eligible for certification and hire this year. The teachers in these various recruitment programs are not exempt from hiring restrictions nor do they have a job guarantee. However, as these candidates have all been identified after a rigorous and highly selective screening process, we will encourage schools with vacancies to give them priority consideration.

Internship Certificate Holders: As you are aware, there are no certification exam requirements for an individual to be recommended for an Internship Certificate. Over the last several years, we have had a substantial number of teachers who did not pass the required certification exams and thus had to be terminated when their two year Internship Certificate expired. In an effort to promote teacher quality and to avoid this costly churn of unqualified teachers, we are now going to require passage of all three relevant exams (LAST, CST, ATS-W) for an Internship Certificate holder to be eligible for hire. A school will not be able to hire an Internship Certificate holder who has not met these exam requirements.

Visa Sponsorship: As there is a sufficient supply of candidates in all subject areas, the NYC DOE will not be sponsoring any new hires requiring a visa. Candidates who can qualify for an OPT-Visa may be apply and can conduct an independent job search, but if they receive an offer they can only be hired if the principal commits at the time of hire to paying for any future sponsorship related fees.

Current exceptions to hiring restrictions:

· New schools opening this fall as well as new schools which opened in 2007 or 2008. These new schools may hire external candidates for up to half of their teacher vacancies.

· External hires may be considered for vacancies in Speech and in Bilingual Special Education.

· Non-teacher titles where external hires may be considered include Bilingual Pupil Personnel Services, Occupational Therapists or Physical Therapists.

We will make updates to our www.TeachNYC.net website if and as these exceptions are updated.

You are receiving this message as a Dean or leader of a school of education; please feel free to share this information and email with your school community.

Thank you,


Vicki Bernstein

Executive Director of Teacher Recruitment & Quality

Division of Human Resources

NYC Department of Education

65 Court Street, Room 320

Brooklyn, NY 11201

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.