In a speech Monday that sounded like a shorter version of his annual State of Metro address, a few words from Mayor Karl Dean about Teach for America (TFA) seemed to be a message for Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS).
“The results of TFA here in Nashville have been nothing short of remarkable,” the mayor said during the noon address to the downtown Rotary Club which includes powerful members of the cities political and business community.
After touting TFA instructors who helped Cane Ridge High to the largest growth rate for Algebra in Nashville, and fourth highest in Tennessee, the mayor said, “…it's important for Metro School, who controls this budget, and we send money, continues to be committed to Teach for America going forward.”
He added before the crowd of several hundred that “I hope you'll help me send a message that we need to keep Teach for America in Nashville, and that we need to make it a priority to further education reform that is achieving results.”
Teach for America trains instructors, then it contracts with district's like Metro-Nashville where between 160 and 250 instructors are here on a two-year commitment.
The Nashville teachers are paid out of federal Race to the Top funds which totaled $750,000 dollars the 2013-14 Metro budget year.
The mayor seemed to get out front of the issue because in 2014-15, funds continuing for TFA would come out of the schools portion of the overall Metro budget.
For now, the mayor may not have to be concerned.
Metro School Board budget chair Will Pinkston told News 2, “Preliminary discussions have included plans to continue the $750,000 annual investment after federal Race to the Top funds run out. That contract with Teacher for America covers the recruitment and training of TFA teachers into the system.
The mayor may see that a little differently.
Answering questions from reporters after the Rotary speech, the mayor said “it's something we should be putting more in, not less.”
“The TFA teachers do a good job,” responded Pinkston in a statement to News 2. “But they're a relatively small part of the overall equation. There just aren't that many of them available, even if we wanted to hire many more.”
It was reference to the limited number of teachers being recruited and trained by TFA and to the TFA instructors being only about 4% of Metro's 6,000 teachers.
School officials at the MNPS central office indicated its “way early” in next year's budget process.