Now you know that normally I wouldn't print anything that is posted anonymously (and this person's original post at the thread will be eliminated). But I decided to print one here so that you can read it for yourself. It is from a Seattle teacher who is a TFA alum (and hey, turns out one of our new Executive Directors is too - Aurora Lora).
As I pointed out in my comments, there seems to not be some clear thinking here - evidence not given for statements made, lack of connection, etc. I would say the last paragraph is, to me, shocking. Because it puts TFA in a status above all other "conventionally" trained new teachers. Not that they are all "better" but really, a better class of people to be teachers.
I find that last paragraph profoundly disrespectful and disturbing.
As a TFA alum teaching in Seattle, I find that many of the comments posted in opposition to TFA go against my direct experience.
First, people seem terribly worried about the five weeks of training being insufficient to train new TFA teachers. Please remember that the five weeks are then immediately followed by enrollment in a certification program, most often paired with a Masters degree, so that TFA teachers go through an equally rigorous training process to other new teachers. Between my masters program and the professional development I attended as part of my TFA commitment, I found that I was much better supported and in most cases, better prepared, for the challenges of teaching in under-resourced schools than my traditionally-educated first-year peers.
Second, as a teacher who specializes in working with special populations, I do not agree that teachers in Seattle Public Schools are addressing the achievement gap. The majority of the teachers in Seattle schools are not trained to work with students with special needs (Sped, English Language Learners, or gifted), and in the worst cases do not see teaching these students as their job. There is a desperate need in Seattle schools for a serious discussion about equity, and if TFA can spur this conversation, then I welcome it. TFA also has a record of recruiting teachers of color and bilingual teachers, two areas in which there is a giant shortage in Seattle schools.
In districts that contract with TFA, whether or not to hire a particular TFA teacher is a principal’s choice. TFA teachers are members of the union, with no special rights. They are regular first-year teachers, who succeed and struggle just like other first year teachers. Some of the TFA teachers I began with have gone on to become some of the best classroom teachers and administrators I have ever seen, and like other aspiring teachers, some burned out and left the profession.
As a parent, given the choice between placing my child with a new TFA teacher and a new, conventionally-trained teacher, I would choose the TFA teacher. I would never say that all TFA teachers are better, but in general, TFA selects for smart, ambitious, academically-minded individuals.