Teach for America contract renewed

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After a renewal of yearly arguments, the state’s top school board Tuesday narrowly approved a $1 million contract for Teach for America.

The group recruits top college students, puts them through five weeks of training initially and more later and sends them to some of the nation’s most challenging public schools for at least two years.

The money is for training and placing 520 TFA members in Louisiana public schools and to support Teach for America, or TFA, operations for the current and upcoming school years.

Concordia Parish School District Superintendent Paul Nelson said his school system has 10 TFA members and plans to add five more in the next school year.

“These people do a great job for us,” Nelson told the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. “They fill jobs we could not do otherwise.”

BESE member Lottie Beebe of Breaux Bridge said that, while TFA teachers do a good job, state colleges and universities could use the money to recruit talented educators from within the state.

The issue has sparked controversy at BESE for years.

The contract won approval 6-3 with two members recusing themselves.