Survey Charts

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TEA has new power to secure information in misconduct cases

Since Sept. 1, 2015, the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) Department of Educator Investigations has had subpoena power to secure the release of information needed to conduct educator* misconduct investigations.

It has used that power more than 30 times since September to get information from districts, but not without additional legal objections from some. Are their objections a concern for other districts? And how does the subpoena process work? We asked TEA’s Director of Educator Investigations Doug Phillips to fill us in on how the investigations process has changed.
 
Q: How does the subpoena process work?
 
A: The subpoena is issued by an administrative law judge (ALJ) at TEA, so we can get one within 24 to 48 hours.

When a district reports an educator having an inappropriate relationship with a student, we send a letter to them to request their information. The districts will sometimes respond that they can’t comply unless subpoenaed. So the investigator goes to our ALJ and a day or two later, the subpoena goes to the district. In most cases, the district fulfills the request.
 
Q: Gaining subpoena power was supposed to help you conduct investigations, but you’ve encountered other problems. Tell me about that.
 
A: The problems we’ve had, we would argue, are legal misinterpretations. We’ve had motions to quash subpoenas. We think we’ve straightened that out, but we’re not certain. We have another motion pending now that has a similar “chilling” effect on collecting information. Our problems haven’t been with district staff; they are just taking the advice of their legal counsel.
 
Q: So HR administrators aren’t misunderstanding their responsibilities when you use a subpoena to gather evidence?

A: That’s my opinion. They are relying on their legal counsel. To give the benefit of the doubt to the law firms involved, they are doing what they believe is in the best interest of the school district. I would rather not have to issue a subpoena, let alone a respond to a motion to quash.
 
I testified in front of the Senate Education Committee on Dec. 7, and that morning we got served with a motion to quash a subpoena by a school district. That set off a whole mess. The law firm involved was upset with me because they felt that we had reached a deal and would willingly accept the motion to quash. That was certainly not the case.
 
Senator Paul Bettencourt was responsible for helping TEA get subpoena power. For him to find out that they were kind of thumbing their nose at our subpoena…he did not take that well.
 
Q: We’ve talked about the reluctance of some districts to report misconduct before. What is the motivation behind that?
 
A: The argument is that they don’t understand the reporting requirements. It sure is a theory that they don’t want the information to be publicized. We’ve heard, “We don’t want to ruin somebody’s career or reputation based on rumors.” What really doesn’t hold water is when they fire people or make them resign and then they pass them on to another district knowing that they shouldn’t be around students. They don’t report anything to us, or report that they gave a positive recommendation. That’s disturbing business there.
 
Q: Does that still happen?
 
A: Oh, yes, absolutely. I’d like to think it goes on less.
 
The other thing is the very difficult reality of finances. If you can get a person to resign, and part of that deal is you tell them you’re not going to report them to the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC), they’ll resign because of that. It’s just kind of an under-the-table deal. I’ve been told that if you have to go through the termination process, it can cost a district $50,000 to $60,000.
 
Everybody kind of loses sight of the fact that it’s a battle to protect kids. You would think that would be everybody’s mission.
 
Q: When you investigate, you don’t always sanction an educator’s certificate, right? 
 
A: In December, we closed about 31 percent of our cases, which is pretty common. With cases that are closed, no action is taken.
 
Districts typically report that someone’s been terminated, has resigned, or has been arrested as part of a district investigation. We open or don’t open an investigation as a result of that report. They’ve already conducted their own investigation and make their report based on what they’ve found.
 
The reason we don’t open a case varies. Sometimes we don’t have jurisdiction, for example if the person is not a certified educator. Also, districts may report an arrest that is serious enough for them to take an employment action but it might not be serious enough to take action against the person’s certificate.
 
Q: How many cases are you working on right now?
 
A: It’s always a shock when I tell people that we have 1,000 open investigations. We would like to get them out of here as fast as we can, but if we have to jump through all these additional hoops…Again, in our opinion, if we can just get the information that any reasonable person would say that we should get…
 
If a district reports, “We have teacher X who did something bad to student Y,” we reply, “Thank you for reporting. Would you send us all your information?” and the district tells us, “No, we’re not going to give you information about who the victim is or who the witnesses are.” To the average person, that just doesn’t make sense.
 
Q: Are the privacy rights of students a big concern for districts in reporting misconduct?
 
A: That’s one of the arguments.
 
Q: Is that an issue districts need to be concerned about?
 
A: We believe that we have the right to any information involved in a misconduct investigation. We’re TEA…we have access to all student information. So one of the arguments is that they are concerned about violating FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974). We argue that the subpoena relieves them of that concern and shifts the burden to us.
 
Another concern is the fact that they conduct an investigation of an educator and they interpret the results of that investigation as a disciplinary action against the teacher. They can say, “That’s part of that teacher’s evaluation, and by law, we don’t release evaluations.” Generally, we don’t want to see evaluations. But if they broaden the evaluation to include that, then any disciplinary action that’s part of the investigation is sheltered from TEA.
 
Another twist that we’re seeing now—and I can’t imagine this will hold water—is to hire an attorney to conduct the investigation and then say the results of the investigation are protected by attorney-client privilege so they don’t have to release the results.
 
You do start to wonder why. Aren’t we all in this together? Don’t we all want to get bad teachers out of education so we can protect kids?
 
I always argue that if districts are concerned about getting sued, should they be more concerned about getting sued because they terminated a teacher for doing something to a kid and provided us with information in the process? Or should they be more concerned about the fact that an educator goes on to the next district and offends against other victims and the district gets sued for that? I know which lawsuit I’d rather defend.
 
Q: It sounds like the battle to get districts to report has shifted a bit.
 
A: It’s shifting more and more in our favor, and after the next legislative session, it’s very likely to shift even more. I’ve never had an interim charge on anything like this, and interim charges give you an idea of the direction of the legislation that will be coming in the next legislative session. It’s been in the press every day. I was quoted in the London Daily Mail.
 
Q: Are there more offenders or is social media just making contact easier?
 
A: My belief is that electronic media is definitely making it a whole lot easier to have these relationships. Direct, unsupervised conduct happens regularly.
 
You’d hope parents wouldn’t let a teacher come over and hang out in a student’s bedroom, but with electronic media, that’s essentially what’s happening. And not just teachers, of course. Anybody and everybody.
 
Q: Offenses by noncertified employees don’t get investigated by TEA.
 
A: No.
 
Q: So it’s up to districts to decide whether to get police involved in those cases.
 
A: Yes. We’ve got enough to do without working on noncertified staff, but that did come up in the committee hearing.
 
Q: Do you have enough staff to do the job?
 
A: Staffing isn’t the answer, honestly. We’d be more efficient if we got some cooperation from the courts. A Corpus Christi woman just pled guilty of misconduct and got sentenced to seven years of probation. We worked with them from the get go, asking them in the process of making a deal with her to have her give up her certificate, because otherwise we have to go after it. That didn’t happen, so we do have to go through the process to get her to surrender her certificate.
 
Q: Is there a legislative solution for that?
 
A: We’ll be talking about that.
 
Q: If you plead guilty to misconduct, shouldn’t you automatically lose your certification?
 
A: It sure would be nice. If you plead like this woman did or if you are required to register as a sex offender, it doesn’t mean losing your certificate. Also, if you’re a teacher at district X and you have an inappropriate relationship with a student from district Y, you can’t even be prosecuted. It seems crazy to me that the teacher and student have to be at the same school district for it to be misconduct.
 
Q: Has subpoena power made your job easier?
 
A: We are glad to have it. It was much needed for years. There could be tweaks to the law to make law firms feel more comfortable. We’ll ask them to help us with that for the next legislative session.
 
Q: Any other message to districts about misconduct investigations?
 
A: The message to districts is to make sure principals are talking to HR and that things aren’t just dying at the campus level.
 
Districts should also have some clear policies about the use of social media between staff and students.
 
We just need to tighten everything up. The framework and the tools are in place.
 
(Editor’s note: Sample guidelines on employees’ use of electronic media with students are included in HR Services Model Employee Handbook.)

*Investigations and reporting requirements apply to any employee who holds an SBEC certificate including aides and individuals serving in a position that does not require certification. 

Texas Tech’s teacher prep program gets $7M for Gates-funded reform

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced it would invest $34.7M over three years to fund five new Teacher Preparation Transformation Centers located across the U.S. Texas Tech’s College of Education received $7M of that funding to create a national center aimed at reforming teacher preparation programs in the southern U.S.
 
The announcement marks the foundation’s first investment in its new teacher preparation initiative. The primary focus of the initiative is to support programs that:

  • Give candidates authentic opportunities to build and refine their skills;
  • Commit to continuous improvement and accountability;
  • Ensure that those who prepare new teachers are effective; and
  • Are shaped by K‒12 systems and the communities they serve. 
The University-School Partnerships for the Renewal of Educator Preparation (U.S.PREP) will be unique in that it will permit Texas Tech to collaborate with five other universities in neighboring states and one of the school districts they serve:
 
Community  University Pre-K Partner School District
Lubbock Texas Tech University (Lead) Lubbock ISD
Dallas Southern Methodist University Dallas ISD
Houston University of Houston Houston ISD
Baton Rouge, LA Southern Louisiana University Ascension/St. Charles Parishes
Jackson, MS Jackson State University Jackson Public Schools
Memphis, TN University of Memphis Shelby County Schools
 
The five transformation centers will each focus on a different teacher preparation model with the aim of seeing which programs provide the best results. For Texas Tech, this means focusing exclusively on transforming teacher prep practices in partnership with K‒12 school systems. All the centers will rely on a common set of indicators and outcomes.
 
The other centers are:
  • Elevate Preparation, Impact Children (EPIC), led by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education: Will work with the state’s teacher preparation providers to improve field-based experiences, support data-driven analysis, and integrate the efforts of providers and partners to meet the increasing demand for teachers.
  • National Center for Teacher Residencies (NCTR): Will focus on transforming teacher preparation through the adoption and expansion of teacher residencies and clinically based programming.
  • TeacherSquared, led by the Relay Graduate School of Education: Will work with innovative teacher prep programs to share knowledge, create communities of inquiry, define the skill sets of teachers, and analyze data from which the field can learn.
  • TeachingWorks at the University of Michigan: Will offer direct professional support to staff members in other transformation centers, lead the development of practice-based assessments for novice teachers, and provide a digital resource center to share what is learned.

Superintendents happy with jobs in face of challenging role

AASA/The School Superintendents Association recently released an update to The Study of the American Superintendent, originally released in 2010. AASA notes the study documents the demographics, backgrounds, and experiences of American school superintendents. The 2015 results include additional data on job satisfaction and the impact of gender for superintendents.
 
Most superintendents are satisfied with their career choice. About three-quarters of them would choose the same career if they had to do it over again. When it comes to career path, most reported the same trajectory: teacher, campus administrator, central administrator/assistant superintendent, and then superintendent. In smaller districts, it was more common to move directly from a campus position to the superintendent post because there are relatively few central administration positions. Many superintendents had the same job in another district.
 
The pattern of an aging superintendency continues from the 2010 study: Nearly one in three superintendent respondents planned to retire within the next five years.

Challenges of the job

Overall, superintendents believe that politics can be a stumbling block that inhibits their job performance, with board members, staff, and the community contributing. Social media was cited as another inhibitor of superintendent performance.
 
The most commonly reported problems were job stress, the time commitment required, and a lack of adequate funding. The most commonly cited reasons for leaving a job were conflict with the school board and wanting a new challenge, with additional mentions of contentious relationships, conditions of the job, or personal family dynamics.

Superintendent demographics 

This year, women made up one-quarter of respondents, except in the largest and urban districts, where there were more female respondents. Minority women were twice as common as minority men among respondents. More male superintendents reported being promoted to superintendent in their current district, while women were more likely to receive the top job by moving to another district.
 
Female superintendents tended to become superintendents later in their careers, had more years in the classroom than males, and were older than their male counterparts. A smaller proportion of female superintendents were partnered or married, while a higher proportion had been divorced, compared to males. Finally, females were less likely to have school-aged children.

For information only

This year’s survey has a smaller group of respondents—less than half of the number from the 2010 study. While the results are informational, it is a less representative sample than in the earlier study.


Extra-Duty Stipend Survey results provide data on more than 70 jobs

For 2015–16, the Extra-Duty Stipend Survey included more than 70 extra-duty assignments, covering benchmark athletics, academic, and performing arts stipends in Texas schools. In addition to collecting stipend amounts and number of extra-duty days, we also gather information on districts’ methods and practices to pay for extra-duty assignments.
 
Regarding the pay method for extra-duty days, 63 percent of respondents indicated that they pay a stipend plus extra days. Districts that do pay extra days typically pay at the employee’s daily rate, while other districts pay a standard rate determined by the district or use a combination of both methods.
 
Most districts (85 percent) assign and pay athletic stipends for each sport coached, up slightly from last year. Other districts (15 percent) pay a single stipend to compensate for all coaching assignments. (For the purposes of our survey, districts that pay a combined “coach” stipend were asked to divide the amounts in order to identify payment amounts by sport.)
 
Thirty-three percent of respondents (142 districts) reported paying a stipend to their high school head football coaches. According to the survey, across the state, high school head football coaches in Texas receive a median stipend of $7,613 in extra-duty pay, an increase of more than $600 from last year.
 
Stipends for football coaches can vary significantly based on the size of the school. Head coaches in Class 1A schools receive $3,290, while Class 6A coaches are paid more than $15,550 in addition to a salary.
 
In addition, approximately half of the districts (51 percent) pay extra days to head football coaches. Districts provide a median of 20 extra days. (Salary data for head football coaches, including stipends and the value of extra days, can be found in the 2015–16 District Personnel salary reports in DataCentral.)
 
Based on previous survey feedback, we added Middle School Campus Athletic Coordinator to the survey this year. For complete results on all athletics, performing arts, and academic stipend assignments in the survey, members can access 2015‒16 Extra-Duty Stipend Survey results in DataCentral through the myTASB login.
 
In DataCentral, users can filter by UIL classification, education service center (ESC), or by selecting specific districts to create custom market comparison reports. Data presented in the survey can be used to identify general market trends for local planning purposes. Keep in mind that there are many unique organizational and personal variables that affect individual stipend payments.
 
Survey data is based on 433 participating Texas public school districts, representing 42 percent of districts statewide. Survey data is effective as of October 2015.
 
Thanks to all of you who participated in our 2015–16 salary surveys! Please encourage your neighboring districts to take part in our upcoming surveys. Their participation provides more robust data for all districts.


Understanding the details of joint employment

It is generally not a concern—nor is it unusual—for school district employees to work for more than one employer. This practice may, in some cases, result in a joint employment relationship between the district and the other employer. Districts that are part of an educational co-op or outsource district functions should take note.
 
If a joint employment relationship exists, the district and the other employer are responsible for ensuring that employees are appropriately paid based on work performed for both employers. In the case of nonexempt employees, this would include paying for any overtime incurred when the hours for both employers are combined.
 
When a joint employment relationship exists, eligibility for Family and Medical Leave would also be based on the total time worked for both employers.
 
On Jan. 20, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published an Administrator’s Interpretation (2016-1) on joint employment under the FLSA. The Administrator’s Interpretation outlines two types of joint employment: horizontal and vertical. Some cases may meet the definition of both horizontal and vertical joint employment.

Horizontal joint employment

With horizontal joint employment, the employee performs different work or works separate hours for more than one employer. Although the employers may be technically separate, they have economic ties to each other. The employers may have an arrangement to share the employee’s services, one employer may act directly or indirectly in the interest of the other in relation to the employee, or one employer controls or is controlled by the other employer. Factors that may be used to determine horizontal joint employment include some the following:
  • Joint ownership of the employers or overlapping officers, directors, or managers
  • Shared control over operations such as hiring, firing, payroll, and overhead costs
  • A single administrative operation for both employers
  • Employers treat employees as a pool of workers
  • Employers have an agreement
An example of horizontal joint employment might be a special education co-op. One district acts as the fiscal agent for the co-op and handles the administrative operations. The employees are treated as a pool of workers for all districts in the co-op. Therefore, the district acting as the fiscal agent and the district where the employee performs the work are joint employers.

Vertical joint employment

A vertical joint employment relationship may exist when an intermediary employer (e.g., temporary agency or third-party contractor) provides workers or performs employer functions for a school district as part of an agreement. The DOL outlines seven factors that can be used as guides to determine if the employee of the intermediary company is economically dependent on the school district, and, therefore, jointly employed by the district.
  • Directing the work performed—The district’s control can be either direct or indirect, such as giving direction through the intermediary employer
  • Controlling employment conditions—The district has the power to hire, fire, determine pay, or change employment conditions
  • Considering the duration of the relationship—An indefinite, full-time, or long-term relationship with the worker is a sign of economic dependence on the district
  • Determining the nature of the work—The worker performs repetitive or relatively unskilled work that requires little or no training
  • Examining the work’s importance—the work is integral to the district’s business such as a worker who provides special education support services
  • Seeing where the work is performed—the work is performed on the premises owned or controlled by the employer
  • Performing administrative functions—the extent to which the district provides administrative support for the employee, such as providing workers’ compensation insurance, facilities, safety equipment, or the tools and materials required to perform the work
Examples of vertical joint employment in a school district might include outsourced district functions such as transportation, food service, custodial services as well as office workers, teachers, or administrators hired through an intermediary agency.
 
The DOL Website has additional information on joint employment.


Inside HR Services

Extra-Duty stipend, superintendent total compensation data available

New 2015–16 Extra-Duty Stipend Survey data is now available in DataCentral for all HR Services member districts. Access the data to create your own custom market reports on more than 70 athletic, academic, and performing arts stipends.

It’s the time of year when you may need to review superintendent compensation market data. Remember to visit DataCentral to research the most current data on total compensation including common allowances and benefits in Texas public schools. You can find the Superintendent Salary Survey report in myTASB.
 

Take our latest HR Surveys in DataCentral

Please participate in our upcoming HR surveys covering leave reimbursement and local leave benefits. Your district must participate to get the results. Invitations to these short, online surveys will be sent to HR Services program contacts in February. Or, you can visit DataCentral and go to the HR Data page to take them.

There’s still time to take part in our 2015–16 CTE Pay survey. Participate in this survey on DataCentral and you’ll find out what Texas school districts are paying in regard to common career and technical education (CTE) stipends (i.e., auto technology, health sciences, etc.).

Plan to attend our upcoming training events

On Feb. 23, April Mabry and Jennifer Lang will present our fourth webinar of the year—FMLA for Public Schools. This webinar addresses the common challenges districts encounter when dealing with family and medical leave, including processing intermittent leave for instructional staff, identifying qualifying events, applying eligibility criteria, and obtaining and evaluating medical certifications. Registration for the live event is available online.

This webinar will be recorded and added to our webinar library. Staff unable to attend the live event can purchase access to the recording and watch it at their convenience. A full list of our recorded webinars is available on the HR Services training page.

Attending the Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO) Annual Conference? Join Ann Patton, compensation consultant, for the informative session, Independent Contractor or Employee? Does it Really Matter? Ann’s session is Wednesday, March 21, at 1:30 p.m. It will help administrators properly classify employees and contractors and avoid IRS and other penalties.


Q&A: Political activity at school

Q: Where do districts draw the line on political activity at school?
 
A: The United States Constitution guarantees the right to free speech. School district employees speaking as citizens have the right to share their political viewpoints in their nonwork time using their personal funds. However, employees are prohibited from using district resources such as office equipment and supplies, or even district computer systems, to promote a political measure or candidate. For example, using the district’s copier to make fliers for a political candidate would be an inappropriate use of public resources, even if the employee provided the paper.
 
Similarly, campaigning during work time is an inappropriate use of district resources. Employees are prohibited from actively promoting a particular candidate or even passively promoting one by simply wearing a t-shirt or button if the district’s dress code doesn’t permit it. However, they are allowed to share their political opinions in casual conversations or on their own personal time.
 
Rules for distribution of political materials (i.e., “nonschool materials”) may be addressed in Policy GKDA(LOCAL). Districts need to follow that policy consistently regardless of the viewpoint of the group or person distributing the materials. Districts offer limited public forums of communication, so the distribution of political materials is restricted to specific times, places, and conditions as outlined in local policy.
 
The TASB School Law eSource paper, Campaign Speech During Elections, answers frequently asked questions about school board trustee, community member, school employee, and student activities related to political activities.

HR Extras

TASB Legal Services updates information on firearms at schools

Several firearms laws passed during the 2015 legislative session have prompted district questions regarding where and when are firearms prohibited, what notices are required, and where they should be posted. TASB Legal Services has published two papers in its School Law eSource to help districts understand the issues involved.
 
Firearms on School District Propertyupdated in October 2015, provides an in-depth discussion of the complex state and federal regulations related to the presence of firearms in or around a district building.
 
In January 2016, Legal Services added a second paper, Update on Firearms at Schools, that answers some of the common questions that have surfaced as districts implement the new laws. These frequently asked questions address the steps districts should take if they choose to restrict open or concealed carry on school grounds and the nuances of the posting requirements.
 
Districts that choose to prohibit concealed and openly carried handguns should ensure that up-to-date posters are displayed at each building entrance. Districts can purchase the required posters through the TASB Store.

ACA reporting deadlines extended

Employers subject to the reporting requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have extra time to distribute forms to employees and file them with the government, courtesy of an Internal Revenue Service extension of the reporting deadlines.
 
Previous IRS Due Date New IRS Due Date
Forms 1095-B and 1095-C were due to employees by Feb. 1, 2016 March 31, 2016
If filing on paper, forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C and 1095-C were required to be filed by Feb. 29, 2016 May 31, 2016
If filing electronically, forms 1094-B, 1095-B, 1094-C and 1095-C were required to be filed by March 31, 2016 June 30, 2016
Source: ADP
 
Employer groups sought filing extensions because instructions for filing forms were released late in the year, leaving employers with little time to gather all the required information. “The ACA reporting forms require specific information on each employee’s insurance coverage—and their spouse’s and dependents’, if applicable—such as employer identification number, taxpayer identification number, addresses, employee’s full-time status and length of full-time status, proof of minimal essential coverage offered, coverage dates, and employees’ share of coverage premium costs. Collecting required information to ensure accurate reporting is an administrative burden for employers,” said Chatrane Birbal, the senior advisor for governmental relations for the Society for Human Resource Management.

Texas teachers earn more than their counterparts in neighboring states

Texas teachers earn more than teachers in neighboring states, and that disparity appears to be contributing to teacher shortages in those states.
 
Oklahoma began the 2016‒17 school year with more than 1,000 teacher vacancies across the state. In an effort to help districts, the state has approved 948 emergency certificates since July. Oklahoma’s starting teacher salaries are much lower than those in Texas. For example, Ardmore City Schools starts teachers at $32,632 compared to Gainesville ISD’s starting salary of $39,600. Gainesville is only a 40-mile drive south on Interstate 35.
 
Oklahoma isn’t the only neighboring state with the problem. New Mexico public schools are lobbying for an increase in teacher salaries to compete with Texas and other neighboring states.
 
The request to state lawmakers was for a $2,000 increase to raise the starting salary for teachers to $36,000. This increase would impact 3,700 new teachers in fall 2017 if approved by the legislature. The proposal would also provide a $10,000 stipend to the state’s 50 most effective teachers. In an effort to attract highly qualified graduates into the profession, college students with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher and a minimum ACT score of 26 could qualify for a $15,000 stipend.

One-time stipend offered to encourage teachers to earn Computer Science certificates

The lack of computer science education in Texas schools is leaving today’s students sadly underprepared to take advantage of some of the fastest growing, highest paying jobs in Texas and the nation. The University of Texas at Austin Center for STEM Education is helping to bridge that gap by offering a one-time stipend for a Computer Science 812 Certification Incentive program.
 
Funds are limited, so interested teachers are encouraged to apply early. The participation incentive is a $1,000 stipend for successful completion of Computer Science 8–12 certification.
 
Candidates are required to:
  • Pursue certification in Computer Science 8–12
  • Be currently certified to teach in Texas or enrolled in an approved teacher certification program
  • Not already hold a Computer Science 8–12 or Computer Information Systems (any level) certificate
  • Submit an application and required documentation by applicable deadlines
  • Receive approval prior to testing (exceptions will be made for those who tested between Aug. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2015)
  • Apply for a test window by the deadline
  • Register for the approved test date and pay fees
  • Complete certification requirements and pay fees
  • Provide proof of success on the exam and proof of certification by the applicable deadline
  • Participate and provide required information in a post-program survey during August 2016

TFA Military Veteran Initiative brings diverse teachers to classrooms

Teach For America began recruiting high-performing college graduates to teach in high-need urban and rural schools 25 years ago. As the program has grown, TFA has worked on creating a more diverse teaching force. It now has nine different initiatives to increase their diversity, including the Military Veteran Initiative.
 
In the past decade, TFA has seen a rise in the number of military veterans applying for teaching jobs. Realizing veterans still had a desire to serve, TFA launched the Military Veterans Initiative in 2012. The first cohort had 75 veterans. To date, almost 300 veterans have participated in this program. TFA has teamed up with several veterans’ organizations, including the nonprofit Got Your 6, the Troops to Teachers (TTT) transition program, and the Student Veterans of America. TTT has helped more than 17,000 veterans transfer their military skills to be successful in the classroom.
 
Veterans may have a leg-up on traditional teachers. They have desire to serve and are willing to go where they are needed. The program has been led by veterans and former TFA alumnus. The current director, Sid Ellington, former Navy SEAL and TFA 2010 alumnus, said, “Students will greatly benefit from a veteran’s depth of experience, strength in leadership, and desire to serve their country.”