Thursday, May 19, 2011

UW and TFA - Part One

Let me take you on my UW/TFA journey for the last several months.
After the Board decided SPS just HAD to give TFA the ability to come into the district, I realized they had not announced a higher ed sponsor (which they needed).   In January, I contacted the College of Education at UW whose dean, Tom Stritikus, is the first TFA alum to head a college of education.  There was an exchange of e-mails and a date and time set up for a meeting complete with a faculty member (his call).   But it never happened as his aide called and said there was a family issue and he couldn't make it.

That's fine so I politely waited two months.  I called again and this time his aide was out on jury duty and no one else could make the appointment (really).  But, I never heard from the aide again.

I contacted UW's Communications who really couldn't say much about it but that I should talk to the communications person in the College (who I didn't know existed).  I was somewhat irritated by then so I contacted the Vice-Provost whose office "lost" my e-mail so I re-sent it.  Seeing a pattern?

By this time, I knew they didn't want to talk with me (and keep in mind I was just going to ask them about sponsoring TFA and nothing else).  I did finally talk with the Communications person in the College who was very nice but she knew nothing.  She later called me and said I could write down my questions and she would sent them to the Dean and he would give the answers to her and she, in turn, give them to me.  No thanks.

By then I knew something was up and had filed a Public Disclosure request for all e-mails and documents between TFA and the Dean.   (Co-incidentally, another active parent had done the same thing.)   It took awhile but I've now been through two batches of about 900 items each.  (Most of it is TFA training manuals and a University partnership manual and their curriculum.  One hilarious item was the "Aurora Lora" story, told in breathless "dear diary" prose.)

As you may recall, UW announced, just weeks ago, that they had finalized a deal with TFA for their recruits to get their teaching certificates through a new alternative certification program at UW.    I realize now that they didn't want to talk with me because, well, I might have found out earlier about this deal.  You see, they were keeping it on the downlow, even from their own students, who asked for a meeting to demand an explanation.  Naturally, the students are none too happy.

So what have I found out from these e-mails I read so far?

  •   The day before his appointment was even announced (August 18th), he contacted Wendy Kopp, the head of TFA.  He asks her if she wants to build an on-line endorsement program for TFA with UW and to do press for him.  She replies, “As you say, this is a terrific moment in the history of TFA and hopefully is a just a harbinger of all that’s to come in terms of the influence of alumni on teacher education.”  
  •  Further on in the e-mail, she says, “Let’s absolutely see what we can cook up in terms of ways of working together…”   

  • Just one week later, he is tries to get together with TFA staff in Washington, D.C.  He says, “I would love to be able to get a set of possible ideas for collaboration on the table and identify priorities.”  

  • Also that week, he says, “I offered to help Janis in anyway she needed.” Janis is Janis Ortega, the TFA director for Puget Sound. 

  • In an e-mail on Sep 13, 2010, again just weeks after he became Dean, Stritikus writes to a TFA official and says, “By that time (9/29-10/1), I will have talked to key faculty, developed a sketch plan for the master’s degree, and gotten a handle on the certification issues.  

  • Again that week he says, “I am open to pursuing other ideas that would be helpful to TFA.


  • In the TFA University Partnership document on page 16, it states:  “Corps members should have frequent opportunities for active engagement in the learning process, including direct support from faculty and feedback on their instructional practice.”  Where effect will that have on regular UW students in the College in terms of help? 

  • On page 19 of the TFA University Partnership document, they talk about what the partnership would give TFA members: reduction of tuition costs for corps members using scholarships, negotiated rates, or district funding.”  Later on they mention, “deferred billing.”  Again, where does that leave UW students?  Will they have access to all of these items?

Stritikus was a man with his pants on fire.  He could not wait to get TFA into UW.  And, TFA couldn't wait to get there with several e-mails showing a TFA staffer e-mailing various training manual every two hours...on Christmas Eve.

My belief, from the e-mails, is that Stritikus wants to expand the program so that UW becomes the go-to place for TFA recruits to get their teaching certificate (on-line).  There are other alternative certification routes in Washington State.  So why is UW jumping thru all these hoops for 25-50 students? 

Part Two?  That's yesterday's meeting between angry/betrayed UW College of Ed students and the Dean.  Here's a taste from a story from KING-5 news.   Listen carefully to what the Dean says - he a bullshit artist of the highest ability.  (And yes, that was an absolute choice on my part to use that word because there is no other way to describe him.)

51 comments:

StopTFA said...

Ditto on the bullshit. What blew my mind was how the faculty almost outnumbered the students. They were roped into covering Strit's ass. They preached, rather disingenuously, that the UW had a purely scientific interest in the magic that is TFA. Yeah, right, they were trying to mollify the understandably upset UW students.

On and on about how the UW's the best and there was a "moral obligation" to make sure the TFA interns know what they're doing. That TFA was a foregone conclusion (after Strit prostrated himself before Kopp).

I hope Stritikus, the preening peacock himself, gets shown the door.

Why TFA said...

Well, you piqued my interest with the Aurora Lora reference.

Aurora Lora graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in Plan II Honors and psychology. After graduation, she joined the battle to fight for educational equity by signing up to teach at an under-resourced school through Teach For America.

During her four years as a fourth grade teacher at Ryan Elementary School in the Houston Independent School District, Lora helped her students make significant academic gains and wrote a $40,000 grant to start an after-school program for fourth and fifth graders. She was named “Teacher of the Year” and became the subject of a book written by Teach For America entitled Ms. Lora’s Story, which has been used as a training tool for Teach For America corps members across the country.

In 2004, Lora entered the Urban Superintendents Program at Harvard University. After completing her doctoral coursework and superintendent internship, she served as a middle school principal in Portland, Oregon, and then became the founder and administrator of the Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy for Young Women, a public all-girls middle and high school in Portland that opened in September 2007.

Lora currently lives in Seattle, Washington, and serves as the Executive Director for PK-12 Schools in Seattle Public Schools.


Here's Ms. Lora's story:

http://www.teachingasleadership.org/sites/default/files/Ms.Lora_.Story_.pdf

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm only on the first page, but it reads like a "small moment" narrative the likes of Reader's and Writer's Workshop.

Must.keep.reading.

StopTFA said...

Not oodles of experience to be the boss of the West Seattle principals....

I must say, my only interaction with her as been positive. I hope the same applies for her subordinates.

Bird said...

I suppose TFA doesn't think it's recruits need training or experience teaching because it's not really in the business of producing teachers, it's in the business of producing "leaders", right?

We can't really expect these "leaders" to spend any time investing in honing their teaching skills, if they aren't going to stay in the profession for more than two years, can we?

The more I learn about TFA, the more I think it's a monster riding on the backs of disadvantaged students.

someone said...

wow - if I was a Ed program student, I'd be sharpening my pitchfork - the wheels that turn among these people are spooky. I don't have a problem with someone wanting to "volunteer" for the betterment of society. But the more I read about TFA the more it begins to resemble something...almost Orwellian. Or do I mean Macavellian (sp?)....

Anonymous said...

Page 9...she's recounting the shock of having to teach 28 4th graders when the state limit is 24...

Must.keep.reading.

dan dempsey said...

My My .... another fine example of the Board of Directors' and the Administration's complete incompetence.

Once again these folks fall all over themselves approving an idea presented by outside interests. The vote to approve TfA was I believe 7-0.

Strit's ass needs firing.

Anonymous said...

Yes...Orwellian. Ms. Lora's story is so filled with TFA propaganda.

--young idealistic teacher - check
--tired old teacher - check
--decrepit school surrounded in barbed wire - check
--students with sad stories - check

Will she save the day?

Must.keep.reading.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
someone said...

Interesting column by a concerned observer on the impact TFA has had in Hawaii - lessons to be learned here?

Lammerman: The dark side of Teach For America
http://www.hawaii247.com/2011/05/18/lammerman-the-dark-side-of-teach-for-america/

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @4:13, you have to sign your comment with a pseudonym, or it will be deleted

(like so)

zb

Anonymous said...

Please don't use zb, though. That's mine, all mine :-)

zb

Jamie said...

Reposting for Anonymous at 4:13 pm. It will be deleted and the comment is a good one.



Not all faculty support the TFA program. It was sold to most of the faculty as a way to research the TFA model to see how effective it is and to see how it could be improved so that the 70% drop out rate after four years could be lowered.

There were only two faculty members speaking in support of TFA and only one other faculty member caught up on the plan to research TFA. Do you know what the research plan is? I don't because THERE ISN'T ONE YET! (Not shouting, just sayin'.)

There were questions regarding how TFA teachers could be hired with the RIF (Reduction in Force) in place and how the school system would pay for it. The answer the students received was "That's a district question. It is not something to be addressed here."

There were questions that had to do with TFA specifically. The answers were always, "That is a question that a TFA representative would have to answer.

Stritikus knew those questions would be asked. He had ample opportunity to get a representative from Federal Way and from Seattle City Schools, but he didn't. He also had plenty of time to get a representative from TFA. How do I know? Because TFA will be on campus today recruiting. It is sort of funny that they can begin recruiting today but they could not be at yesterday's meeting to answer the questions of the students enrolled in the Masters in Teaching program. Is there a pattern here? Yep, I'm seeing one.

Anonymous said...

The more I read of "Lora's story," the harder it is to swallow.

An ironic part is where she's lamenting the pressures of standardized testing on both teachers and students - the anxiety for their jobs if scores are too low.

To be fair, the embellished stories were not written by Aurora, but based on her experiences. A TFA curriculum developer, Steven Farr, is given credit for the "training manual."

You have to read it for yourselves.

Must.keep.reading

Melissa Westbrook said...

I, too, have a Hawaii story send to me by a teacher who has some first-hand experience. I'll post it on the next thread.

Anonymous said...

I am correcting my message that said there was no research plan in place with regard to TFA.

There IS a research plan. It just hasn't been made public, as in it has not be shared with the faculty yet. (heh heh heh)

Hereafter known as:

Scrapin' Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

S Mom, how do you do research with just 25-50 people? Is that a large enough group for a valid study? (Not being snarky but really, would that be a large enough group to contrast with UW's students?)

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Betty Patu the lone dissenter on the TFA vote (as well as on approving Enfield for interim)?

Kay Blum is 0 for 2 on the past two significant votes. Hopefully,
she can stop being impressed with lipstick and Ivy Leaguers.

Betty Rocks

Anonymous said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah. (As in "Yes, yes, yes, let's do this." That's what I say every time I put on my Scrapin' Boots.)

You are correct that an experimental group consisting of 25 to 50 TFA students is not enough to make a valid comparison to. . . anything. Well, certainly not the MIT program. That should be one of the questions that the faculty should be prepared to answer. It makes one wonder if the faculty has even asked themselves this question. As a matter of fact, it is only one of several KEY questions the faculty should be able to answer, which again begs the question as to whether or not they have even asked the questions. Or were they just presented with this as a Yes or Yes question. (You know: Do you agree that we should partner with TFA and schools in the state of Washington..yadda, yadda, yadda? Choice: Yes or Yes. Oh, just in case you vote No, it's too late. This is something that is going to happen. Get used to it.)

I am sure that I appear to be snarky or flip or sarcastic in my remarks, but that is the way it happened, folks.

Scrapin' Mom

StopTFA said...

Must.keep.reading,

Yer killin' me! Yes, as presented last night, it's a compelling dialogue. As I noted the night the Board yet again bent over and took it, I could give a shit about the compelling story, teach my child something other than money buys influence. Something other than personal vanity drive a once honorable institution's faculty to prostitute itself for "research"! Whoever "Cap" is, how do you sleep at night?

StopTFA said...

I say those UW grad students need to learn a lesson from the students who took over the admin offices in protest of a vendor contract. Ahh, I remember the good ole days of student protests...

Anonymous said...

So who pays the entire cost of educating the TFAers at the UW? 3 quarters runs about 8 grand or so these days, plus their 5 week training course, if that's at the UW (I don't know). But is the State of Washington paying one dime for any of these "2-ya and screw-ya" temporary teachers?

And for that matter, is anyone factoring in the turnover costs of doing this constantly to sustain the ranks of TFAers as they continue to bloat the ranks of increasingly top heavy administrations, charters and think tanks?

I want to see the financial on all of this and figure out whether we are wasting money or not, comparing apples to apples. Seems to me that creating career teachers that will be around for 20 to 30 years is a sounder investment than having to rapid-fire educate TFA kids year after year.

Anyone asking these questions? Meg....

BTW, according to his CV, Stritikus spent 2 years in a U.S. classroom, followed by a year teaching English in Mexico (Taquila!), and taught 2 summer school classes while getting his PhD.

So that's like, 2 real years, one who knows year, and 2 summers in a classroom, while getting a Masters & PhD, and shooting straight to his Deanship at the UW. Talk about fast-tracking. Holy Cow!

Heavy on Academics. Way light on Experience. Don't expect much more than typical condescension from this guy. (Like on the King 5 tape)

WSEADAWG

StopTFA said...

My thoughts exactly WSEADawg. That is the lightest amount of research I've even seen from the Dean of a "research institution" as they stressed last night. What does he have...ONE paper? Maybe two? Cripes, I wrote more in my AP LA course! The previous Dean at the COE or somebody musta been duped by this guy's "sincerity". Very pathetic.

someone said...

The piece on Hawaii has quite a bit about the unforeseen financial costs of this - including the turnover cost implications.

Anonymous said...

WSEADOG and StopTFA, the former dean of the CoE had nothing to do with the hiring of Stritikus. Old deans don't hire new deans. Stritikus was acting dean while the CoE was doing a search for a new dean. This was while the powers that be knew the president was going to be leaving and it would be foolish for anyone to accept the position of new dean when they know a new president is coming in. Things get way too jumbled around. The faculty finally agreed to agree on TS as new dean because he was the only one sitting in the chair every day and too many decisions were being put off until a new dean was hired. Does anyone remember one of the signature songs of Connie Francis -- Who's Sorry Now?

Scrapin' Mom

StopTFA said...

Scary, could be lots of parallels to the SPS superintendent spot.

Well, by all indications Tom thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread: innovator, educator (in a manner of speaking), pinnacle of TFA (except for Wendy of course), what's next? Secretary of Education? The Second Coming? Who'da thunk they just didn't want to order new stationary...

Syd said...

Totally off -topic:

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/ Cliff Mass was removed from his weather spot on KUOW because he talked about SPS and math. Read the full story on his blog.

I am shocked!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Okay, they asked for it. Boycott KUOW until they give Mass his spot back.

This one shouldn't be too hard. They need every dime they can get.

WSEADAWG

Zebra (or Zulu) said...

Re: Cliff Mass

Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war!

This has nothing to do with Cliff and everything to do with who funds KUOW. It's the very same funders that are the privatizers, TFAers, and reformers. They wanted him silenced - now they have done so.

Names later after research.

You heard it here first...more later.

New thread needed...

Anonymous said...

The Broad Superintendents Academy has been advertising on KUOW.

KUOW listener

Kathy said...

Melissa,

Nice investigative reporting.

Thanks for your work.

Why TFA said...

According to Ms. Lora's bio, she was the administrator of the Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy for Young Women in Portland, OR. In the Portland assessment database, it's listed as Jefferson Young Women's, and it seems they share a campus with the traditional high school.

It's a 6-12 school with an enrollment of 180 - that's an average of 30 students per grade (and it's much larger than the size school Bree oversaw).

How does this experience translate to becoming an Executive Director and dealing with the complexities of many schools and much higher enrollments?

Anonymous said...

Again, anybody know who pays for TFA's classes at the UW, and whether the state is paying any portion of it?

And they used to call the plants "facilitators" way back when. Sounds like that gathering was full of them. Kind of like all the TFA speakers who spoke to the board on the night of the vote.

Gotta hand it to TFA. They know how to run a campaign.

WSEADAWG

StopTFA said...

Yeah, they were definitely in attendance. I think some of the others were cowed into not saying anything. One faculty member in particular seemed strongly anti- and skeptical (through body language) but he didn't say a word.

Most of the students with guts did NOT get their questions answered. One student, Maya, kicked everyone's ass. I wanted to jump and say an AMEN to that! She was emotional and made me emotional. She is going to be a helluva a good teacher. Thanks for your hard work, Maya. Please be my daughter's teacher.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wait for it, Seadawg. I'm working on Part Two.

Anonymous said...

Stop the presses!

UW has just offered its current masters students, the ones who were going to be screwed -- uh, humiliated -- uh, unable to compete on an equal footing with TFA candidates -- yes, that last one is the one I will choose to use. The current masters students who were going to be unable to compete on an equal footing, those guys. UW has just offered them an alternative in which they will be able to get their masters degree by going to summer school this summer. There are several different options, but they all end with the degree itself being granted at the end of summer rather than next spring.

Truth, justice, and the American way, or just a way out of the controversy and negative publicity that has arisen from this TFA problem? Whatever the reason, this now puts the masters students and the TFA students on an equal footing for this hiring period. What happens next year will happen with the people choosing to take the traditional masters pathway knowing when they sign up that they will be competing with the TFA crowd.

I wonder why those chose now to come up with that idea. Anyone? Anyone?

Scrapin' Mom

Iron Kim said...

In a related effort, a Facebook page dedicated to putting Cliff Mass back on the air can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Put-Cliff-Mass-back-on-KUOW/149155005153152
It's becoming more and more clear he was "released" as he had the temerity to question the math curriculum bundled up in the TFA cadre working their way into both UW and other public schools.

Anonymous said...

Our children have been in schools that partnered with UW for student teaching and they were a real asset to the classrooms. I would think that student teaching is an invaluable part of the learning experience. Does a summer school option mean no student teaching?

Weirder and weirder

Wondering said...

What about incoming students on a traditional path????

Anonymous said...

Weirder and weirder, I did a long post earlier today in which the entire two-year process of getting a masters degree in teaching was laid out. The student teaching comes at the end of the first year. In other words, all the masters students have completed their student teaching. That post has not appeared yet so I guess it was considered too long or not relevant or just not good enough. (No offense taken.)

The student teaching process is one in which the student teacher learns and grows and is, at the very worst, makes them minimally prepared to begin teaching. At the best, ready to step into his/her own classroom and take charge as a young but competent teacher. Also, first year teachers are "partnered" with veteran teachers so they have a mentor to go to when they come across a problem they simply don't know how to handle.

So what this summer program means to the parents and students of the school system is that the new masters degree teachers will be coming in having already received most of the training that they would have had to do the second year of the program (the first year of their teaching). They still have to do a few credit hours next year, but those hours will be self-assessment (which consists of much more than a sentence "I'm doing great.") The presence of an outside evaluator to determine how much the self-assessment matches actual performance as seen by the professional evaluator will also be submitted to the masters student advisor. If the self-assessment doesn't agree with that of the evaluator, more work will be required of the masters student/first year teacher.

Chew on that for a little bit and if I have not been clear enough, let me know and I will try again.

Scrapin' Mom

Anonymous said...

Expediting any Masters Degree program simply devalues it. All that hard work and more importantly, invested time, counts toward someone becoming a master.

In a couple years, they'll probably just buy it on their Ipad & call it good.

This isn't good for anyone. Another day, another scandal, another scrambling PR response caused by Reformers' Ready-Fire-Aim methodologies.

All those who earned their masters the old way, many of whom are still paying back the loans for it: Screw You!

WSEADAWG

P.S. In a related story, after 19 weeks and 2600 shots, Palin finally takes down trapped Caribou...From an estimated distance of..2 feet...Returns to hero's welcome in Wasila, AK...

Hard to measure the absurdity of it all.

Anonymous said...

I'll be signing off soon. The TFA issue is the only dog I have in this fight. Probably the only other posts you will see from me is to clarify something I have said or to clear up any misunderstandings or misinformation.

Anything you see posted from me is based on things that I KNOW first hand, never from things I have heard.

There is one thing I want to tell you that you should make all of you very happy.

This blog is actively, avidly, and carefully followed by the University of Washington College of Education -- administration, faculty, and students. Rest assured that you are not just a group of people yacking at one another about the things that anger or frustrate you.

Certainly you should not expect UW to do anything and everything you want done, but be aware that your voices are being heard. I know that there are faculty, staff, and students that either contribute to this blog by posting or by other means.

Also be aware that UW College of Education is a research facility and grants only advanced degrees -- masters, PhDs, and EdDs. The main UW campus does not offer an undergraduate program in education. Rather it takes the best of the best from all over the state, actually from all over the country. The competition for acceptance into a degree program from UW is fierce. The ones who actually see things through to completion of their degree are people of substance -- not money substance, but a wish to contribute to the education of our children substance.

The UW College of Education is ranked as the ninth best in the country. They had to work very hard for that ranking and they continue to work hard in the hopes of improving their ranking by improving the quality of education that they can offer their students.

For those of you who think I sound like someone from the university, you're wrong. I don't work there, but I do a lot of independent research on all schools of education because those schools are turning out the teachers who are educating our children.

I'm old enough that I don't have children in school any longer, but I am still vitally interested in our public schools. I truly believe that the children are our future. When I get to the point that my well-being is in the hands of the people who have come out of our public school system, I want them to be as well prepared as possible.

See? I'm just a selfish old broad.

Give me a shout if you want to hear me pontificate some more.

Scrapin' Mom

Anonymous said...

Wondering, the incoming students who choose the tradition path for their masters degree in teaching will know on the front end that they will be competing with TFA students for jobs and can either choose to stay on the traditional path or change.

The masters in teaching program has been changing from year to year, looking for the right level of instruction and time required for that instruction. The 2010-2012 class was facing a new structure and new requirements for the degree.

There is a way to look at this that should make things a little clearer (I hope). If you enter UW Medical Center as a patient, part of the release you sign is that you are aware of the fact that you are entering a teaching hospital facility and that you agree to allow yourself to be surrounded by medical students or interns looking at your incisions and discussing you as a case rather than as an individual person --all as a part of their instruction. That is not exactly what the release says, but that is what it means. You get the very best treatment available, but you are also agreeing to put yourself on display. So what are your options? If you don't want people who are training to be doctors or nurses looking at you and poking or probing on you to find out what your particular condition is like before or after you are treated, go to a non-teaching hospital. There are plenty of those around.

When you enter the UW master in teaching program, the faculty is always self-assessing and asking for feedback from their students and from fellow faculty members on how successful their strategies are. If they find a better way to do something, they do it that way beginning with the next year's incoming students. But no matter what specific part of the program is changed, there is a rock solid base of instruction and experience required to be completed successfully by the student before the degree is granted. If you don't want to go into a program in which the standards may change from one incoming class to the next, go to a non-research university to get your masters degree. There are plenty of those around.

The added value of the process of earning a masters degree in teaching from UW is that the students are setting up a network of people who are nationally recognized leaders in their field. The students will always have that relationship and can call upon these professors ten years from now to find out whether the newest trend that is being forced on them by their district or state is one that really works and how they can modify the program to make it work if it can't really stand on its own.

The process of earning an advanced degree from a research-based institution is a dynamic one because the research is always changing what is being taught and how it is being taught while always maintaining that solid base.

Is it inconvenient? Yes. Is it unfair? In a way, yes. But if I could have had a masters program as advanced and dynamic as the one offered by UW, I would have jumped on it in a hot minute.

Scrapin' Mom

StopTFA said...

Scrapin' Mom,

I have worked with a number of student teachers on my daughter's IEP team. I could tell right away they were going to be great, working with special-needs children. They had support working side by side with the inclusion teacher, learning how to prepare IEPs (probably better than some current SPS staff, I might add). I'm sure they would be the first to say that the experience was invaluable.

I was at the UW meeting. I stated point blank that, as the "consumer" I'll be god-damned if some TFA-er would use their "little toolkit" with my child in special education. I made the point about the Ninth circuit ruling because Ed Taylor mildly challenged Maya by asking, will TFA interns hurt disadvantaged children? Well, apparently the judges thought so. Furthermore, I questioned the dissembling "high-minded" statements on scientific research. The UW put the cart before the horse. There were no research proposals. Stritikus had to SELL the idea to faculty by claiming there was research potential. Sure, if Gates or TFA funds it. Then we'll know how objective those findings will be .

Anonymous said...

TFA applicants are recruited from the top tier of university graduates and because they are very smart they typically do well, even with less training. College of Ed students are on the average, recruited from the bottom 30% of college students and as a result they do less well and need more training. Smart trumps a year's worth of training in my book. Best to frame the argument differently -- how can we ensure we are capturing the best and brightest college students to go into teaching? Without higher pay and status this is a long shot, at best. So, in the meantime, TFA provides high caliber applicants who have the passion to work hard for the collective good. Too often students end up in the College of Educ because they haven't found another option - it's a fallback career option. I realize I'm generalizing and there are talented and passionate College of Educ candidates and less than talented TFA graduates, but in my experience, I'm more inclined to trust my at risk students to a TFA graduate.

Elementary principal

Anonymous said...

The faculty and dean don't want to tell you all that the want TFA at the UW because they are the best and brightest teaching candidates with a track record of success -- so they are talking about a research model. I get it.

Sad to see so many defending Cliff Mass. His science and weather reports are excellent. His focus on traditional math teaching and text books is not a match to best practices designed to ensure all students understand math. It's ideal for future educators to be well versed in the whole story.

Elementary principal

Maureen said...

Elementary principal says: Smart trumps a year's worth of training in my book.

Seattle Schools are attracting literally hundreds of certified applicants for open positions (and could have more if the HR system wasn't so screwed up). I'm willing to bet you could find a smart AND qualified candidate in a pool that size. TfA does some pre-screening and mentoring for you that is all. Do you want the best candidate, or are you asking someone else to do your job for you?

If UW thinks their MIT candidates are deficient, they should be more selective in their admissions and forego some tuition.

I'm all in favor of treating teachers with more respect in order to increase the caliber of candidates. I think hiring short timing amateurs to teach our most vulnerable kids is the wrong way to go about this.

Maureen said...

Reading over my post, I can see (another place) where this TfA push comes from. Someone thinks that Principals at Level 1 (or is it Level 5?!) schools are not capable of sorting through hundreds of applications to find good candidates. No one downtown in HR is willing to do that work. Someone thinks TfA is a way of mitigating the damage from incompetent principals in schools that aren't making AYP. It's harder to hire and mentor competent principals than it is to allow TfA to screen and mentor teachers(plus Gates et al are willing to chip in on the cost.)

I don't mean to imply in any way that Elementary principal above is incompentent, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that s/he believes many colleagues are.

Personally, I've met significantly more whip smart teachers than I have principals (though I have met some of those as well).

StopTFA said...

I would say that someone with the disdain Elementary Principal holds for his/her subordinates likely makes him/her very ineffective. Teachers, its hard to soar with eagles when you work with turkeys for principals.

Retired Teacher said...

I am a retired Seattle Public Schools teacher and a graduate of the UW (1969). I later attended the same esteemed institution to attain a master's degree and an administrative certificate, decided that was not my passion, and returned to the classroom. I am livid that Dean Stritikus is playing these games with his graduate students.

I testified to the Seattle School Board before they voted on the TFA issue, and tried to make the point that we have many, many fine graduates of colleges of education from all over western Washington and do not need to bring non-certificated, inexperienced recruits into our already tight job market. I am so sick of the "best and the brightest" mantra, as if we don't have bright teaching candidates from UW, Western, SPU, SU, and numerous other institutions, who have made a significant time and tuition commitment to making teaching their career.

These are the folks who will serve children in the classroom well. They are not on a fast track to "educational leadership," but motivated to work directly with youngsters every day, helping them learn and grow. I mentored more than a few of them when they student-taught in my classroom, and I KNOW that five weeks of "training" does not a teacher make.

I intend to write to the new president of the University, and let him know my disappointment in the direction that his College of Educ. is taking, and that the UW will not receive an iota of support from me as long as that continues.