“I’m personally tired of students saying to me a teacher told them ‘I don’t want to be here,’” she said. “It’s not fair for them to hear that.”

Sherry Hazuda said she voted for the expenditure because it gives principals another avenue to get willing teachers in the classrooms.

In its 22 years, Teach For America has placed corps members, as they are called, in urban districts from Philadelphia to Chicago to Los Angeles. In total, the New York-based company currently has 11,000 teachers in 48 cites throughout 35 states.

Its recruits are selected from among recent college graduates and seasoned professionals in a highly competitive process looking for passion, critical thinking skills, leadership qualities and academic or professional excellence in their field. Recruits are then given five-weeks of training and receive ongoing professional development and coaching.

They are not, typically, students of education and therefore have not come through the traditional proscribed teacher pipeline. That was the chief objection raised by those voting against the measure.

Though the district would pay their salaries and they would join the union, Brentley called the move an attempt to break organized labor.  Outgoing board member Jean Fink said even if someone is a math genius, it doesn’t necessarily mean they can teach.

egina Holley, a former district teacher and principal, said the move amounted to experimenting on students, calling the Teach for America graduates “microwave teachers.”

The grant funding will allow the district to hire as many as 30 teachers per year who would teach middle school and high school math, sciences, foreign languages and social studies.

Both Brentley and Thomas Sumpter tried to table the motion, but were voted down.

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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