The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) school board will vote tomorrow night to approve the hiring of up to nine Teach For America (TFA) members. These new hires will begin teaching in fall 2013, and will be the first year in which TFA teachers are placed in CMSD classrooms. During the past school year, fifty TFA teachers were placed in Cleveland-area charter schools and another 34 TFA teachers taught in the Dayton and Cincinnati areas. The past school year, 2012-13, was the first year TFA operated in Ohio.

This is more encouraging reform news for Cleveland, whose school system has and continues to struggle mightily. Within the past month, the Cleveland Teachers Union and the Board of Education agreed to a new teachers’ contract that, most significantly, stripped away the seniority- and college-credit-based salary schedule and replaced it with a “differentiated compensation” system that awards salary bumps mostly based on how a teacher performs on the state’s new teacher evaluation rating system. This change was required as part of Ohio's recently-enacted law, House Bill 525 (cf., Ohio Revised Code section 3311.78).

The new contract also changes lay-off rules so that performance is now the dominant criteria, rather than seniority, and also calls for 40 minutes of additional instructional time. Cleveland’s teachers will also receive a 4 percent raise in the first year of the contract and a $1,500 bonus when they enter the new compensation system.

Finally, a new 15-mill levy, passed last November, will inject roughly $85 million into the district’s coffers. The infusion of TFA, a new collective bargaining agreement that rewards performance, and, yes, a bit more cash—not to mention the leadership of Cleveland’s mayor Frank Jackson in district affairs—all put into place a few of the conditions necessary to improve Cleveland’s long-suffering school system.

CORRECTION (6/12/13) - The Cleveland board heard the introduction of the resolution to hire TFA members on June 11th. They did note vote on the resolution. An update will be provided in two weeks when the board votes.

UPDATE (6/26/13) - According to the Cleveland board office, CMSD yesterday approved the resolution to hire TFA teachers who will begin teaching in fall 2013.

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