The number of Teach for America teachers working in Florida schools is going up.
Teach for America recruits, trains and places candidates — often recent college graduates — in low-income schools.
The program currently places teachers in just two Florida school districts: Miami-Dade and Duval.
This year, 300 TFA teachers are on Miami-Dade school rosters.
In 2010, there were 150 TFA teachers working in Miami-Dade schools. And 250 the year before.
Jacksonville area schools have 160 TFA teachers in its teaching corps this year. That’s up from 110 in 2011 and 100 the year before.
Jill Johnson is with Duval County Public Schools. She says the district partners with TFA in an effort to “increase our pool of diverse and talented teacher candidates,” she said.
“The district recently received grant funds from FLDOE that allowed us to increase the number of TFA teachers hired by the district,” Johnson said.
The Florida Department of Education is not the only agency dolling out money to TFA. The US Department of Education administration awarded TFA a competitive $50 million grant in 2010.
TFA claims its focus is on closing the achievement gap between low-income and high-income students.
In its 22 years, TFA has had almost 33,000 participants nationwide.
Despite its success, the organization is not without its critics. Some claim TFA teachers are used to replace experienced, tenure teachers in the public school system.
And Florida is a big producer of TFA teachers.
In 2011, the University of Florida in Gainsville ranked 5th highest in the country for the amount of graduates going into the Teach for America program.
Teach for America is expected to release its 2012 numbers next week.