The reason: Teachers, not all of them alternatively certified, quit. The job is hard. The job rarely meets expectations. People, particularly those with other marketable skills, give up. These truths do not change the fact that quitting teachers have an almost impossible to quantify negative impact on a school. It would be hard, of course, to hold individuals accountable for leaving their jobs. The sacrifice of salary and benefits is a pretty harsh price to pay as it is.
But alternative certification programs with robust budgets, much from public dollars, have committed to providing teachers to the areas they serve. They receive funding, sometimes on a per-head basis, for this service. And so when they don’t provide the service, like most government contractors, they should be fined. Such a policy would require contract re-negotiations with these programs.
Let’s face it, corporate darling Teach for America isn’t going to leave the industry just because communities are demanding a service that doesn’t leave kids teacherless by October. The New Teacher Project will have to accept clauses involving fines. Otherwise, they admit their service is an epic failure.
Where would these fines go? Better substitute teacher training, better teacher recruitment, better new teacher support, better retention efforts. In other words, when these programs can’t guarantee quality teachers who do not quit on children, they should have to give some of their funding back to school systems who can try to mitigate the harm.
Until we start holding these programs accountable for their failures, we should not be willing to praise them for their successes. If we are willing to give them our money, we must also be willing to take it away.