Professor questions Huntsville City School board over Teach for America contract

A Huntsville educator is sounding the alarm over who exactly will be teaching kids in Huntsville City Schools in coming years.

School board members approved a four-year contract with Teach for America earlier this month. The non-profit group recruits recent college graduates to teach in communities that see higher poverty levels. Up to 170 teachers trained by the organization are expected to be hired in Huntsville City Schools during that time frame.

Philip Kovacs teaches in the department of education at University of Alabama in Huntsville. He said he's concerned about the lack of teaching experience and training among Teach for America recruits.

"In my opinion, it doesn't prepare you for the realities of the classroom. Any much as five weeks of training would prepare you to be a doctor," said Kovacs.

Kovacs attended Thursday night's school board meeting in Huntsville to express his concerns, namely, why the district -- and ultimately taxpayer dollars -- will pay more for Teach for America teachers.

"Are my tax dollars going to exorbitantly priced professional development, or am I paying off other people's college debt?" Kovacs asked school board members.

Teach for America teachers are hired to teach for two years. In their contract with Huntsville City Schools, they will be paid $5,000 per year, in addition to their salaries. School board members said this covers professional development and recruitment costs.

Huntsville City Schools superintendent Casey Wardynski said the decision behind Teach for America recruits is based on their talent level, which compared to other teacher applications, warrants their employment.

"These are very very competitive individuals. The individuals we often hear from that object come from teachers colleges. We're happy to hear from them but my interest is in children and Teach for America has a proven record around the country." Wardynski said.

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