Birmingham Schools narrowly favor "Teach for America"

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - By Sherea Harris

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham City School board members voted 5-4 to hire teachers from the "Teach for America" program.

The program places recent college graduates in under-performing schools.

Board member Tyrone Belcher is concerned about the school making what he calls a big mistake.
Belcher says, "I don't like it. Until we get further approval and do some more thinking on this."

Board members against the program don't believe the school system could afford it at a time when it's facing a budget shortfall.

The school system will pay the teachers a normal salary, plus an extra $5K per teacher.

Superintendent Craig Witherspoon says the program has been successful in other urban areas and the money is there for it, which includes possible federal dollars.

"Ultimately, we feel this is a way to infuse this particular program into what's going on in the schools that need improvement," said Dr. Witherspoon.

AEA spokesperson Lance Hyche says this is another example of the board being irresponsible with finances. Hyche asks, "Why not take the teachers that we have in our district and make them better. We all know that 30 million dollars in the whole is a fact. The state is going to declare proration and make deeper financial cuts, but the board decided to vote tonight on an experimental plan that won't work."

Dr. Witherspoon contends there will be no layoffs to make room for "Teach for America" teachers, which was a concern.

"Teach for America" will join Birmingham next school year.

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