Fatimah Burnam Watkins, Executive Director of the NJ chapter of Teach For America, corrects the record and replies to the rumor that Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson has a secret plan to fire 300 teachers and replace them with TFA corps members. This rumor was started by Bob Braun, former Star Ledger columnist and increasingly unreliable narrator and conspiracy theorist. But people believe him; there’s even a Move On petition now circulating (although I guess there’s a Move On petition for almost anything).
According to Ms. Watkins,
“Bob Braun’s piece, Newark: 700 teachers may be laid off, many replaced by TFA is full of toxic inaccuracies that have the potential to damage trust among parties who must continue to be in dialogue in order to reach real solutions for students and teachers alike. I was moved to reply because this kind of rumor spreading, this insistence of stringing together unrelated vignettes into conspiracy theories, is exactly the undercurrent compromising our ability to move forward to a place where children in New Jersey are our first priority and as a result, are equally equipped to pursue college or career options.
She adds, “as the executive director managing the pipeline of available teachers from TFA, I can tell you it will be nowhere near 300 as claimed. There are currently 65 TFA teachers in NPS schools (48 in their first year, 17 in their second year). Based on previous conversations with the district we were anticipating providing up to 40 TFA candidates for NPS in the coming year, a small percentage of the new teachers they were anticipating hiring.”