Help wanted: Director of teacher recruitment for a school system that just laid off nearly 1,000 teachers.
A nonprofit that is trying to help improve Houston's public schools is hiring six full-time employees -- including a person in charge of recruiting teachers.
This is the same Houston Independent School District that has notified 950 teachers that their positions are being eliminated next school year, with roughly 75% of them losing their jobs due to massive state budget cuts. (The rest are being laid off for performance issues, the school district says.)
Taxpayers aren't picking up the tab for the six new hires. They'll be on the payroll of The New Teacher Project, a New York-based nonprofit that has been working with HISD for more than a year to help fine-tune its hiring practices, which HISD hopes will lead to better teachers.
But the timing -- and the irony -- weren't lost on the head of HISD's teachers' union.
“I just find it a little distressing,” said Gayle Fallon, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers. The school system is "bringing someone in for recruitment when we have over 700 teachers that will not have jobs next year.”
Salaries for the open positions range from $70,000-95,000 a year, according to the postings on the nonprofit's website. All of the positions are full-time, and include a benefits package and the possibility for bonuses based on performance. The recruiting director would be paid $73,000 a year or a salary commensurate with experience, the nonprofit's online listing says.
The open TNTP positions include a communications director, business analyst, recruitment and staffing director, a director for implementing teacher evaluation systems, a senior director of teacher compensation strategy and a senior director of teacher evaluation system design.
“All of the positions are being funded by private grants,” Andy Jacob, spokesman for The New Teacher Project, said in an e-mail. “None (of the positions) are being paid for with taxpayer money.”
HISD has received more than $7 million in grants to help fund its effective teacher initiative -- $6 million in September from the Houston-based Laura and John Arnold Foundation and $1.5 million in November from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In February of last year, HISD estimated that the project would not cost more than $8.4 million.
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Photo by flickr user bgottsab, used under a Creative Commons license.