Debate over hiring San Francisco teachers through Teach for America program

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - The San Francisco Unified School District says it needs to fill approximately 500 teaching vacancies by next fall.

Most of the openings are due to retirement. The district also says there is a shortage of college students seeking careers in education because of cutbacks in recent years.

One way to fill some spots is hiring interns through the Teach For America program.

They are enrolled in credentialed education programs but haven't yet earned their teaching credential.

The school district has 15 interns in classrooms but wants to expand to 24 next year.

Many teachers oppose using the interns because they say many stay just the required two years, then leave.

They say that creates upheaval especially in schools in low income neighborhoods.

"We need to have stability in the teaching force. That doesn't get created through Teach For America," said Sue Solomon, vice-president of the teachers union.

Teachers are also concerned that Teach for America accepts donations from large corporations and are concerned those companies could influence what is taught in class.

Supporters say many of the Teach for America teachers are dedicated and stay longer than the two years.

"That dedication to my students and their success is what has led to their great results this year," said Christine Parker, a Teach For America special education teacher at James Lick Middle School.