November 2, 2010

Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D.
Superintendent

Seattle Public Schools
PO Box 34165
Seattle, WA 98124-1165

Dear Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson:

It is with great concern that we are writing regarding the Seattle Public Schools consideration of a contract with Teach for America. While we believe Teach for America is a fine program serving areas of significant teacher shortages with extreme urban and rural poverty, it does not meet the needs of students attending Seattle Public Schools.

As you are well aware, over the last several years local school districts have regretfully utilized a reduction in force program, eliminating the positions of many highly trained and experienced Washington teachers. At this time, we do not have a shortage of teachers. It seems drastically unfair to shortchange our students with teachers who are not adequately prepared to meet the
complex demands of a classroom environment.

We are in an education crisis. The design of our school systems reflect the needs of a society in the 1970s and are in desperate need of modernization. Students and families are suffering through a relentless economic recession, the achievement gap plagues our student populations, and student performance is lagging behind many schools in our nation and other countries. It seems unconscionable to hire individuals without a specialized education
preparation program, little professional work experience, and no classroom experience to be responsible for transforming the problems that our students face. Our students and the dedicated teachers who have worked so arduously to serve our students deserve much better.

Clearly, the problems facing our education system are multifaceted. They range from poverty, to the need for adequate health care for students and families, parental involvement, and the need to accommodate the diverse learning needs of every child in the City of Seattle. In the classroom, it will take experienced, professionally trained teachers, who have developed curriculum, worked with students and parents, and practiced their skills as educators to help our students achieve the expected standards, thrive in a learning environment, and reach their highest and best potential.

A Teach for America employee could be a great asset to trained and cultivated teacher in the classroom, providing instructional and classroom management support, but should not be a substitute for an education professional. Utilizing the Teach for America employee in that capacity would benefit the students, teacher, and the teacher in training. We urge you to consider a way to utilize the Teach for America program without abandoning our students and high standards for our education system.

Sincerely,

Eileen Cody
State Representative
34th District

Sharon Nelson
State Representative
34th District

(See: Letter)