From part 1 of this post, I explained that expected student enrollment growth in Tennessee charter schools will demand a large number of great teachers. Securing an adequate supply of high-performing teachers is critical to the educational quality of charter schools in Tennessee. The estimated number of teachers needed does not include the number of school building leaders or staff (deans of curriculum, directors of operations, office managers, etc.), but this post is largely focused on classroom teacher talent. It is important that charter schools in Tennessee diversify beyond their current human capital pipelines and sources to meet future demand.
Taking into account that nearly 1,333 high-impact, rock star teachers are needed by 2015 for charter schools in Tennessee’s four largest urban county school districts, with much of this need focused in Memphis and Nashville, plans need to be set in motion now to ensure an adequate supply of great teachers.
To date, many charter schools and growing charter management organizations have focused on sourcing their supply of teacher human capital on a narrow set of pipelines, and rightly so. Many charter schools in Tennessee recruit Teach for America Corps members from Memphis, Nashville and other TFA regions from around the country. In addition, the Memphis Teacher Residency and to a lesser extent, the Memphis and Nashville Teaching Fellows have provided some strong teachers to charter schools (the Memphis and Nashville Teaching Fellows programs have a priority to staff regular district schools).
This has been ok thus far because the total number of teachers needed for a relatively small charter school ecosystem in Tennessee has not exceeded what these organizations and talent pipelines have been able to provide. In addition, Tennessee charter schools have been able to pull in Corps members from other regions in the country. Yet, there is a realization that competing on a national scale for high-quality teachers from other TFA regions will only intensify as other Corps regions experience charter school growth themselves and will need their own set of high-performing teachers.
Specifically with these programs, those teachers that do remain after their initial two or three year commitment – not all of them will remain teaching in the classroom, and those that do, not all will stay in charter schools. A portion of them remain in regular district schools. Based on current attrition estimates and cohort estimations of those in charter schools vs. district schools, a rough estimate puts the charter school teaching supply from these organizations in Tennessee at 355 teachers for the 2015-2016 school year. Accounting for any unannounced future growth of TFA Memphis, TFA Nashville or MTR, or an increased retention rate, a 50% surplus over the estimation (533 teachers) still leaves charter schools to find nearly half of the needed 1,333 teachers from other sources.
With this realization, what can charter schools and support organizations, such as the Tennessee Charter School Incubator start doing now to meet the expected demand by 2015-2016?