Kansas teacher recruitment effort attracts just 3 educators

TOPEKA — An effort to attract more teachers to Kansas has recruited just three educators so far, but the state is still on the hook to pay $270,000 to the organization behind the program.

KCUR reports that the Legislature agreed to pay the education nonprofit Teach for America for the pilot program with the aim of recruiting 12 teachers across the state. All three teachers were placed in the same district, in Kansas City, Kansas.

Some lawmakers expressed disappointment in the low number of recruits and the fact that only one district has benefited.

“That’s the best they can do so far?” asked committee chair Sen. Carolyn McGinn, who represents a district in south-central Kansas. “I don’t recall during that appropriation process that we said, ‘Just stay in the Kansas City area.'”

The Kansas Department of Education said Teach For America told the department it recruited five teachers this year, all in Kansas City. But the Kansas City district said two of the recruits started teaching last year, before Kansas hired Teach for America.

Still, KCUR reports that the education department is drafting a $270,000 contract to pay for the recruitment and training of all five teachers. The contract had promised $500,000 if 12 teachers had been hired.

Mischel Miller, director of teacher licensure and accreditation at the state education department, said the contract was intended to help fill a teacher shortage in the state. The department said there were 612 vacant teaching positions in Kansas schools this fall.

Teach For America Kansas City executive director Chris Rosson said the organization planned to encourage teachers to become more familiar with other parts of Kansas. Events such as an alumni reunion in Lawrence and a trip to western Kansas are scheduled for upcoming months.

But the money hasn’t been allocated yet, and will not come out of the training and recruiting budget that the state has agreed to pay this year.

“We’re eager to do those things to try to support the work that’s happening in the state of Kansas,” Rosson said. “But we are also a (nonprofit group) that has to be very deliberate about and intentional about how we are allocating our resources.”

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