August 28, 2009
Teach for America isn’t alone in planning to keep its new members busy even if they don’t land positions before the start of school. The city’s Teaching Fellows program is also offering short-term activities for new teachers shut out by the hiring freeze.
Teaching Fellows who haven’t been hired by a school by Sept. 18 can sign on for six more weeks of “extended pre-service training,” paid for by the city, as part of an arrangement developed even before the hiring freeze was announced in May. Accepted Fellows learned about the extension option this spring, before they agreed to join the program.
Fellows who participate will earn $250 a week in exchange for four days of practice teaching. They’ll also get to attend the program’s required graduate program for free during that time. But they won’t be offered health insurance or other benefits, according to Ann Forte, a Department of Education spokeswoman. Unlike TFA, the Teaching Fellows program won’t involve home-cooked meals, Forte said.
The short-term, low-pay program for unplaced Fellows follows a fight last year over how long Fellows without jobs should be entitled to a salary. In the past, Teaching Fellows began drawing a teacher’s salary when school started but agreed to be removed from the education department’s payroll if they did not find a permanent position by the beginning of December. Last year, tighter hiring conditions caused a larger-than-usual number of new Fellows to face termination, and the teachers union filed a grievance contending that the Fellows were protected from firing by the union’s contract. After arbitration, the city agreed to continue paying the Fellows through the end of the first semester, when a small number were fired.
Here’s the explanation of the extension program that was sent to accepted Fellows this spring: