/Teach for America Mississippi and Arkansas to join together as one region

Teach for America Mississippi and Arkansas to join together as one region

The non-profit Mississippi News Teach For America Mississippi has announced it will merge with Teach For America Arkansas. This could lead to layoffs of administrative staff. Teachers who have completed two-year commitments to TFA in Mississippi or Arkansas during this transition will be able to continue teaching in the same area. The consolidation occurs at a time when Mississippi’s districts are already seeing a decline in TFA teachers (also known as corps members). We will do all we can to retain our truly outstanding leaders. “We have an incredible staff that is dedicated to children and their craft of building leaders. We will do all we can to keep them with us. But we will also figure out the best structure to accomplish this work.” Barbara Logan Smith, executive director at TFA Mississippi. Since 1993, the organization has sent corps members to areas in need of service in the Mississippi and Arkansas Delta. Before moving on, corps members must fulfill a two-year commitment. Many are choosing to stay. There are 145 TFA alumni who still teach in the Mississippi Delta. TFA corps members have been a vital resource for the Delta districts in filling teacher shortage gaps. However, over time these districts have seen fewer corps members come to their respective districts. Mississippi Today reported that 196 corps members were teaching in Mississippi during the academic year 2016-2017, where 272 had taught. For the current school year, there are 131 corps members in Mississippi. TFA currently lists Mississippi as a high-priority region, where teachers are needed more than elsewhere in the country. The legislature’s funding has decreased over the years. Between 2015 and 2016, TFA saw a $4 million budget reduction, reducing its total appropriations from $6million to $1.8million. “There’s been a decrease in the amount of appropriation we were able to receive, but the state has shown incredible support for our work, even when it faces tough fiscal challenges. Logan Smith stated that although the consolidation is not directly linked to the decrease in allocation, there is a connection between us needing additional support and work. Logan Smith stated that TFA will increase its recruitment efforts in the coming year with the goal of increasing TFA corps members by seven percent nationally by 2020. It won’t be the first occasion Arkansas and Mississippi will join together as one region. The two states were previously combined four years ago. “I believe there was a time when both of us believed that separating would allow us to get more funding and support in each state, considering the size of our territory. We now see consolidating as a way to increase efficiency and foster a network that’s more cohesive between two states, as we continue to look at how we support the Delta,” Mia Meadows, interim executive Director of TFA Arkansas, said. Logan Smith and Meadows both supported the consolidation. “We are excited to be reunited with (Arkansas). Logan Smith stated that this is a wonderful moment for both states, as each state will be focusing on their children’s success.