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You read that right. Kansas is a state that has cut taxes and cut its education budget repeatedly and whose teachers are paid poorly. It is under court order to finance its schools adequately. You may recall that former Governor Sam Brownback imposed a far-right policy of cutting taxes to “grow the economy” while starving the schools and other public services. The experiment failed. Trump appointed him the
“Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.”
So now, because of low salaries, Kansas has teacher shortages. The remedy? A lavish contract with TFA to bring in temp teachers.
The Kansas Legislature agreed to pay education nonprofit Teach For America more than $500,000 this year for a pilot program to recruit 12 teachers to the state.
But the national organization only recruited three teachers for the state in 2018. All of them were placed in Kansas City, Kansas, where the local school district pays their salaries and benefits on top of another $3,000 per teacher per year to Teach For America.
Meanwhile, the state is still on the hook to pay the nonprofit $270,000 for training and recruiting teachers with no guarantee they will work in Kansas schools.
Mischel Miller, director of teacher licensure and accreditation at the Kansas State Department of Education, said the contract was intended to help fill a teacher shortage in the state.
“Our intention,” Miller said in an interview, “is that those dollars would be used for Kansas teachers.”
Yet the Kansas City, Kansas school district says it only hired three Teach For America instructors this year. Two other recruits started teaching in the district last year before Kansas hired the organization.
The state education department says Teach For America told the department it recruited all five of those teachers this year. The department is currently drafting a $270,000 contract to pay the organization.
A budget document from the Kansas Legislative Research Department dated Oct. 10 states, “Teachers will be paid a salary of $36,000.” But that money actually goes just to recruiting, training and placing each teacher.
That totals $180,000 from the state for recruiting five teachers, plus $80,000 to pay for the salary, benefits and travel expenses of a recruiter and $10,000 for one day of professional development. The rest of the money appropriated during the legislative session, totaling $250,000, will go back to the state’s general fund to be appropriated for the next fiscal year.