Friday, July 15, 2011

Teach For America Placement in Memphis

Memphis schools are in the process of laying off teachers - including veterans and four from Teach For America.  New hires were to be restricted to placement in only four schools (the lowest performing schools in the district, per the article) - I'll return to that later.  The superintendent anticipated having over 500 job openings for this fall, but ended up with fewer than 200, meaning 60 out of 100 2011 Teach For America corps members who were to be in the district are still unplaced.  The placement landscape looks somewhat bleak, but if you're a 2011 corps member in Memphis (or elsewhere) I'd love for you to comment and update others on what the latest information is.  I wrote a post that can be found here about my experience with placement, and as I said, the process is a fickle one and can shift quickly.  If I had to guess, I would guess that TFA may try to place teachers in the surrounding area or in charters to make up for the decreased demand from Memphis schools.

Something that concerns me each year is that each corps gets larger and larger while teaching positions get harder and harder to secure.  I know of people who have gone unplaced and had to take the emergency release, which means that they packed their bags and moved home - in essence, setting themselves back a year in their professional development.  Overestimating open positions by more than 300 is definitely surprising, and now there appears to be a number of corps members who are currently at institute with a lot of job uncertainty.

Finally, I want to return to the fact that the union negotiated an agreement that new hires would be hired only in the city's four lowest-performing schools.  That's just... frightening.  Unions argue (vehemently) that more senior teachers are more effective, and by sequestering themselves in the more manageable schools in the city, the union's members are protecting themselves from having to teacher where they're most needed, essentially saying "We give up on those students - our members don't want to teach there."  This setup prevents young teachers from building relationships and learning from veterans and seems likely to foster an us-versus-them mentality that can't be a good work environment.  Wow.


  1. Thanks for your comment on my blog. There are about 100 of us not placed (out of 180) and teacher in-service starts on Aug 1. We have a meeting on Tuesday night to discuss this crisis (my word, not theirs).

  2. Well I definitely wish you guys the best. I know it can be tough, but Memphis is a well-established region and I would expect the regional organization has a broad base of contacts on which to fall back on. Definitely let me know how things progress (to satisfy my curiosity and that of readers) and let me know if I can provide any useful perspective.

  3. Hey! An update. There has been a TON of activity in the past few days. We went from about 50% placed to 75% placed since about the beginning of the week. I had 6 interviews scheduled between yesterday and today and got offered a job. It seems like all the math people have been placed. Other content areas are slower but we are pretty much all highly qualified to teach anything in middle school so I expect that everyone will be placed shortly.