The district’s school board voted Aug. 28 not to renew its contract with the program, citing concerns of high teacher turnover. The program recruits college graduates to teach for at least two years in underperforming and low-income districts.
“Studies have shown Teach For America is as effective as traditional new teachers, but they often do not persist with teaching and improve after the two-year period,” said Heidi Carter, board chairwoman for the Durham district.
Those already placed at the school will finish their commitment, but the district will end ties with the program for the 2016-17 school year.
Carter said the decision was primarily driven by the board’s preference to spend money developing teachers who are looking to educate for a career as opposed to a temporary commitment.
Becky O’Neill, spokeswoman for Teach For America in North Carolina, said schools pay the organization $3,000 per teacher each year, as well as the teacher’s salary.
Durham schools employ 12 teachers from the program — and there are 500 statewide, she said. But it is not unusual for schools to stop receiving teachers from the program, she said.
“Every year we keep an ebb and flow, though usually on the side of growth,” O’Neill said. “Especially in North Carolina, we always have more demand than we could ever hope to fill.”
Carter said the school district is hoping to redirect the Teach For America money toward reinstating a mentorship program, where veteran teachers help those starting their careers.