Citizen Schools

www.citizenschools.org

Citizen Schools Reviews

Updated January 22, 2015
Updated January 22, 2015
42 Reviews
2.7
42 Reviews
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Steven Rothstein
2 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Working with students is always rewarding to some degree but Citizen Schools had it wrong.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Teaching Associate in Boston, MA
    Former Employee - Teaching Associate in Boston, MA

    I worked at Citizen Schools part-time (less than a year)

    Pros

    I don't have very many pros for CS to be honest but I will try to think of some positives I can pull out:
    -Exposure to diverse populations-- this is especially important for young professionals from very homogeneous schools and communities
    -Working with students is a rewarding experience and young professionals learn a lot about being flexible and taking charge.
    -CS employees in the schools can be exposed to and gain knowledge of community concerns and issues through interaction with their students and can help students learn to advocate.

    Cons

    Pretty much everything else. Honestly working for CS was a complete disappointment coming from other nonprofit educational programs. I expected such a widely recognized and funded NATIONAL program to be effective and efficient in in developing and managing programs as well as training staff.
    This was not the case at all.
    Just a few cons:
    -HORRIBLE management at the school level.The management team had not nearly enough experience with children to run an entire program. Management was completely incompetent and had less experience working with students than most of the staff. Answering to, and being evaluated by supervisors who had no idea what they were doing was almost painful. Even worse the management was not culturally competent and did not understand the lives, challenges, and barriers that our students were facing below the surface.It was like the stereotypical middle class, white, woman running a program for inner city black kids. Management did not want staff engaging in difficult but helpful conversations with our students.
    -Poor programming. CS is funded for the most part because of the amazing experience of apprenticeships. Spoiler alert: most program time is not spent in a-ships but in academic programming. In our case it was spent in classes run by staff who were not trained teachers or particularly good at the material we were teaching. Staff were in no way qualified to be managing and teaching the classes we were given. This showed when we were continuing to change our academic programming until about April.
    -We were babysitters. Staff members were basically babysitters in the schools from 1:30-4. The program was defended because "at least these kids aren't getting out of school at 1:30". That is not justification for running an extended day program. If the program is not effective and efficient it should be reworked. We should not have been placed in classrooms at the most difficult time of the school day with completely useless programming.
    -Part time staff who were hired expecting to work 25-30 hours were given 22 hours to do the same amount of work. This was not effective amount of time and the pay rate was not good enough to support TA's who were truly dedicated to running good classes. Part-time staff became burnt out and demoralized because the work was just too much for what they were being given (even with a decent hourly rate).
    -Lack of diversity. In a school that was less than 10% white our staff was made of mostly white women. Our teaching staff consisted of only 3 men, one black man. Our only black teaching staff member was asked to leave in November creating a cultural divide between students who looked up to him and other program staff. After this we had a long revolving door of part-time staff members trying to fills this roll. CS needs to work to hire people who are representative of the communities they are serving.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Hire campus directors and deputy campus directors from OUTSIDE of the organization. Hire people who have been successful in urban education and can implement successful programming. Stop using organizational darlings to develop programming and run campuses.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  2.  

    Great Volunteer Experience, Underpaid & Undervalued

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Citizen Schools Teacher in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Citizen Schools Teacher in New York, NY

    I worked at Citizen Schools

    Pros

    Hands Own with students & the ability to create one on one relationships

    Cons

    The New York Headquarters is not transparent nor do they have a successful model to emulate across all schools in their network. This creates a challenge for the campus directors in managing their Americorp participants.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  3.  

    Gain Leadership Experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Citizen Schools full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Leading with Citizen Schools gives you great opportunities to develop a wide range of leadership skills. You gain experience in management and coaching, presentations and leading professional development, and you have opportunities to meet with high level school and district officials.

    Cons

    In Boston, Citizen Schools is a household name and carries a lot of weight in the world of education, non profit, and policy. It is not the same if you work outside of Boston. Because of this its hard to use your work at CS as a springboard to career growth unless you focus specifically on networking and marketing yourself as you work. It is also a lean organization, so there are not many opportunities to grow within the organization.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Consider ways to grow beyond the current model to impact more communities and open up new positions to promote growth from within.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5. 2 people found this helpful  

    Too Much Stress, Not Enough Money

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Teaching Fellow in Chicago, IL
    Former Employee - Teaching Fellow in Chicago, IL

    I worked at Citizen Schools full-time (less than a year)

    Pros

    I was able to connect with my students and if you have not had prior experiences working in an urban environment, this may be an eye-opener for you depending on the school that you are assigned to. Some Teaching Fellows have violent or embarrassing interactions with students, whereas the school I worked at students had more expensive phones and shoes than I did. Do not paint all the students and schools the same!

    Cons

    You are not able to be that creative with the limited resources that you have for lesson plans day-to-day or the schedule. You also may not use many of the things you learn at National Training and apply it your campus and regional culture. Everyone is over worked and under staffed because a lot of people will quit or be fired within in the first few months after National Training. It is hard to find time to connect with other Teaching Fellows on your campus and within your region.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Provide legitimate routes to complain and discuss issues with your campus directors and do a better job of pairing 2nd year teaching fellows with first year teaching fellows and be more understanding about how long it will take for teaching fellows to adjust to the demands of Citizen Schools.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6. 1 person found this helpful  

    Between a rock and a hard place

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Citizen Schools full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Passionate staff at all levels
    Hugely motivated volunteer base
    Strong senior management talent, adept at overall organizational management

    Cons

    Taking on more than they can chew at times
    Programs caught between providing 'real' ELT and what districts can do
    Big gap in perceptions between Teaching Fellows and full-time staff
    Weaker junior management/staff people without significant work experience - over-reliance on MBA credentials or pedigree.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Focus, focus, focus. For the duration of my tenure, there was a struggle to reconcile the program's identity and impact, which looks as if it continues. Teaching Fellows and junior managers need more transparency about organizational goals and strategies and need to buy into it from the outset in order to ensure their expectations are aligned with the requirements.

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
  7. 3 people found this helpful  

    TOXIC WORST JOB OF MY LIFE BEWARE!!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Teaching Fellow in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Teaching Fellow in New York, NY

    I worked at Citizen Schools full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! It is unfortunate I have nothing positive to say about this organization. It is best to stay away for your own well being.

    Cons

    DO NOT WORK HERE IF YOU LOVE YOUR LIFE!!!! This was by far the worst job I ever had! This organization is VERY DISORGANIZED. Horrible long work hours for very little pay. When you apply to this job there is lack of clarity in the job description. Management give TFs a hard time when it comes to requesting time off at work. There have been instances when you have to use your sick days just to get away. This organization lack leadership skills and professionalism. Management provides absolutely no support and are always clueless when you ask about any logistics. Citizen Schools regional staff are quick to throw TFs under a bus just to save themselves from getting fired. The turnover rate among TFs and staff is very real. My recruiter and interviewer in my process left when I started even the CEO left!! This tells you a lot about this so called "organization".

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Treat your TFs like adults and not children and do better when it comes to hiring a decent management team. Be more transparent and actually follow your mission. DO BETTER CITIZEN SCHOOLS!

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  8.  

    A hard job, but often worthwhile

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Teaching Fellow in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Teaching Fellow in New York, NY

    I have been working at Citizen Schools full-time

    Pros

    Good benefits, you get to grow as an individual and have multiple roles in the organization.

    Cons

    Challenging, compensation a low stipend, not immediately thankful work.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 3 people found this helpful  

    Frustrating place to work, hard to connect to impact on kids

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Manager
    Current Employee - Manager

    I have been working at Citizen Schools full-time

    Pros

    Opportunity to build great friendships with colleagues, population served is in critical need, open to working remotely, flexibility to volunteer as part of the mission (i.e., volunteering as a Citizen Teacher is encouraged among regional and HQ office staff), good reputation means something to the outside world (esp. after employees leave)

    Cons

    Very disorganized in all departments and at all levels of the organization, seems to be a lack of belief in the mission and CS' particular solution so we're always trying new things and never sticking to any one tactic that works, not getting compelling, statistically significant results for kids, poor management across the board, promotions often happen as a result of an emergency or vacancy so the right people often aren't in the right positions, staff underappreciated, no confidentiality, overly complicated, lack of thoughtful planning (and even less thoughtful execution), very stressful, unrealistic goals set staff up for failure year after year. Overall, just a frustrating organization to work for.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Figure out who's in charge and follow someone's lead, acknowledge the shortcomings in your management and either replace poor performers or ensure they get up to speed, SIMPLIFY (the program, the results, the staff structure, EVERYTHING), pick a metric that will most represent success with students and work toward that, keep the confidence of your staff, LEAD BY EXAMPLE

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Good experience, albeit stressful and disorganized

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Teaching Fellow in Boston, MA
    Current Employee - Teaching Fellow in Boston, MA

    I have been working at Citizen Schools full-time (more than a year)

    Pros

    It's a rewarding experience, and is worthwhile for anyone considering teaching or anyone who enjoys working with children. It's a very good eye-opener and test to see if you really want to be a teacher. There are opportunities to work in other areas besides just classroom instruction, and TFs do often get to provide their own input and opinions which are taken into account. You also get good professional feedback.

    Cons

    Things change on a whim, the challenging students can be insanely disrespectful, and there are several nights that you go home just wanting to quit or walk away. The amount of work you do (or are expected to do if you want to do your job properly and not shittily) is worth WAY WAY more than you get paid.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Find a way to pay TFs more. Most of them deserve it for the work they do. Also stop hiring people who are underqualified!

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11. 2 people found this helpful  

    Citizen Schools

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Teaching Fellow in Oakland, CA
    Current Employee - Teaching Fellow in Oakland, CA

    I have been working at Citizen Schools full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    -I received a teaching credential at no expense
    -I learned a lot about teaching and now feel prepared to enter the classroom as a full time teacher
    -I love my co-workers and the students I worked with.

    Cons

    -Really high staff turnover (at our campus of 17 people, 7 left within the space of one year)
    -Poor compensation for long hours
    -Organization has a hard time recruiting volunteers, which are the centerpiece of their mission, in communities like Oakland. This puts a lot of stress on the Teaching Fellows to lead classes, and makes the students' experience in the program less valuable.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Listen, understand, and know what people's needs are as employees of the organization. Do not sacrifice quantity over quality. Fund your campuses, staff them, and treat your employees with respect so they want to stay.

    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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