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Monday, August 17, 2009

Teach for America

What's wonderful about Teach for America?

What's wrong with Teach for America?

What is good about Teach for America but has been overhyped?

What is bad about Teach for American but not as bad as people say?

What other profession in the whole world would allow well-intentioned volunteers to replace experienced and certified professionals? Would we allow a similar programs with Doctors? Dentists? Lawyers? Engineers? Police Officers? Fire Fighters? Would we allow it for plumbers, electricians, or carpenters?

Is this an appropriate way to address a teacher shortage? Is there a teacher shortage?

How can we reconcile the ever-growing list of requirements for getting a teaching certificate with the willingness to allow recent college graduates to teach after five weeks training?

Without Teach for America, would we be missing out on some really wonderful and gifted teachers with a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with school children? Is there some other way to allow these volunteers into the classroom?

34 comments:

seattle citizen said...

I posted this elsewhere, in a thread unrelated to the topic...my apologies, I rarely do it but was incensed...Thank you Charlie, for starting a thread regarding TFA and their young, energetic, idealistic, reform-minded minions, uh, teacher-interns. Teacher-wannabes? Teacher-trainees? Try-it-for-two-years-without-training-teachers?

Here's my post from the other, unrelated thread:
Off-topic, but there's a short piece in today's Parade Magazine (inserted in tens of millions of newspapers across the country) about how unions supposedly mess with "the youngest teachers...a fresh source of idealism, energy, and ideas for reform"
They print Teach For America's complaints that seniority, by inference, favors the...old, stale, cynical, clueless teachers. You know, those with experience? Those with ideas for reform based in that experience? Those whose ideas of reform might not conform to what some might want when powerful people say "reform"?
I guess experienced teachers are too old, too experienced (too expensive)and too independent a lot to get with the reform program de jure.
They also are hired to...uh, they also invite someone from the Brookings Institute to weigh in: "There is strong evidence that TFA educators do at least as well and sometimes better than other teachers [after five weeks training?]...they are a source for reform in public schools, and it will be a loss if they’re not there.”
Ka-ching! the check's in the mail, Brookings Institute!
Here's the webpage:
http://www.parade.com/news/intelligence-report/archive/090816-the-battle-between-unions-and-young-teachers.html

dan dempsey said...

TfA pays the standard wage for a beginning teacher. It seems that in most if not all of the TfA positions there are NO qualified applicants.

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I am prompted to jump this to Health Care where currently the USA has a nursing shortage. The USA has raided South Africa and many other nations to bring very qualified Nurses to the USA. US Medical schools produce less than an adequate number of doctors thus ensuring good salaries in the supply demand market.

In the current debate by the politicians in an attempt to control costs and increase medical care to more people .... amazingly those who would provide the care are NOT mentioned.

People discuss rationing and seemingly neglect the topic of the supply of Workers needed to increase medical services.

Charlie, perhaps we will see TfA Nurses next.

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I would be more concerned with TfA if I saw districts and the state actually encouraging teachers and helping them develop effective practice to increase achievement. Look at Seattle and WA state in math over the last decade ... the Admin has continually advocated for teachers to do more of what does not work.

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The USA is importing math teachers from a variety of places.
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Click HERE .

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TfA selects from the graduates of elite college those with GPA's below 3.2 need not apply. I suspect that most of these folks will not still be teaching four years later. They will be in grad school in public administration preparing to tell teachers how it should be done. Think Arne Duncan, and more data-less direction from pseudo-experts.

seattle citizen said...

So the Brookings guy, "Grover Whitehurst, director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution," says that TFA teachers "are a source for reform in public schools."

What does he mean?

Does he mean that current, traditionally trained teachers are not? Are they an additional source? Is the previously mentioned "youth, engery, yada yada yada the reason they are a "source for reform"? Or is that they are "young", malleable, and could possibly replace all those oldsters? Is it that they are very cheap to hire?

hmm...and what IS the Brown Center on Education Policy?

Can I, can Charlie, write statements instead of questions?
anyone?...anyone?...
Bueller?....Bueller?
I'm off to googlesearch Brown CEP. And Mr. Whitehurst. Back later.

seattle citizen said...

Dan,
They are paid the regular salary (beginning teacher, with higher pay for more education, evidently) and paid by the districts. So are they union? Does the district hire them on a separate contract (if they are only there two years...)?

Are they union?

zb said...

"What's wonderful about Teach for America?"

It allows kids who wouldn't consider teaching to take a stab at it. Some (perhaps only a few) stay. I know one such, who was a part of one of the first TFA cohorts, and is still teaching, 20+ years later. It helped her find her niche, when she might otherwise have considered graduate school, a more natural outcome of her college education at a elite private east coast university. Since then, people have stopped others with her unusual name to tell them about the teacher "who turned their child's life around." That's wonderful about TFA.

What's wrong with Teach for America?

Teaching is a learned skill, and people with an undergraduate degree in philosophy, or biology, or math, don't necessarily have the skill to teach those things, and we throw them at the most difficult to teach populations.

What is good about Teach for America but has been overhyped?

That people w/ undergraduate degrees from Harvard, or Oberlin, or MIT have something special to offer teaching. That's true. Students at those places who learned a passion for learning, and for learning their subject may have something to show children about the joy that learning can bring. But, if their overwhelmed by more immediate needs (both the children and the teachers) they can't necessarily convey that love or passion or the skills to learn to love learning.

"What is bad about Teach for American but not as bad as people say?"

Teachers who don't know how to teach. They don't, but perhaps, enthusiasm, and knowledge can get you through for a year, and offer something of use.

And, this doesn't necessarily fit in your questions, but I really do believe that people bring something useful to the rest of their lives, having spent a year or two in a classroom. I think a lot of us assume that we understand, and that there's too much segregation between teaches and "other professionals."

PS: there are volunteer firefighters, you know. And, there are volunteer "nurses", usually caregivers. There are volunteers in hospitals.

TFA teaches are supposed to be teaching with a safety net. And, they are, since they teach in a school.

zb said...

PPS: I think TFA is a wonderful thing. I do not think it's a replacement for having permanent/career/professional positions for teachers and supporting those positions, with treasure and tribute.

dan dempsey said...

Seattle Citizen,

Experienced teachers have been in the field long enough to realize that the training by Colleges of Education over four years is next to worthless (Hattie effect size of around 0.10). Experienced teachers have developed a practice based on getting results and serving their children despite what central administration often tells them to do.

TfA lack of training may be an advantage.

The Seattle Central Administration talks about data and results. They ignore relevant data preferring fads instead and hide results. (Think PSAT fall 2008 .. no results yet)

The Board of Directors supports the Central Administration. The Superintendent talks about merit pay. The direction she provides has little to do with merit. Remember her recommendation of IMP for HS Math adoption in Spring 2008. There are NO empirical studies about differentiated instruction, that does not matter. Differentiated Instruction is the answer to everything if the teachers will just do it right.

Project Follow Through students who had the direct instruction program k-3 had a doubling of high school graduation rate (vs. the other methods) when followed a decade later. The Seattle Superintendent prefers Nonsense to Data and the achievement gap widens and remediation rates continue to be high for SPS graduates.

dan dempsey said...

85% of those selected for TfA graduated from college within the previous 18 months.

dan dempsey said...

Yet according to Grover Whitehurst, director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution: “ There is strong evidence that TFA educators do at least as well and sometimes better than other teachers,” he says. “It’s true that teaching fellows don’t end up in the classroom for a long time. But they are a source for reform in public schools, and it will be a loss if they’re not there.”
---------
---------
A summary of studies shows about the same effectiveness for TfA teachers or slightly lower.
I think Grover may be a cherry-picker .... he would fit right in with SPS Central Admin, where Spin trumps Evidence.

seattle citizen said...

"(Both the founders of Teach for America and KIPP charters are on the Broad board of directors, along with Maria Goodloe-Johnson.)"

seattle citizen said...

Grover Whitehurst, of the Brookings Brown Center, says that "There is strong evidence that TFA educators do at least as well and sometimes better than other teachers..."
Hmm. Are they at least as good, or better, AS THEY TEACH their first year? Is this compared to other first year teachers? Are they at least as good, or better, AFTER they've finished their TFA stint and have a few years under their belt (meaning they somehow, despite less preparation, excelled during their post-TFA years?

Dan I have to dispute your claim that "Experienced teachers have been in the field long enough to realize that the training by Colleges of Education over four years is next to worthless "
On what do you base this assertion? Granted, we've all heard lots of stories about crappy classes, missing pieces, etc...But teaching schools do offer classes that discuss development, theory, history of ed, etc...one would think that to a serious learner (teacher in training) this would be useful information. Certainly there is a wide variety of quality in the programs, and amongst them, but surely SOME background knowledge is a good thing?

Perhaps Mr. Whitehurst thinks TFA is the cat's meow because the TFA teachers are untainted by doctrine? There's something to be said about that...As has been pointed out, the education field has its share of pedantic kool-aide drinkers, philosophy couched in protectionism (both staff and admin, both...) Some of this is most likely taught in teaching programs.

seattle citizen said...

Oh, and you mention "training in colleges of ed over four years..."

As far as I can tell, most teachers, or many, have majored in other things in their undergrad years, and then decide on teaching and take a masters or post-grad program for their cert.

Son they have background knowledge in thier fields, and then take intensive coursework (a year or a year and a half) to become a teacher, to learn (hopefully) some of teh "mechanics" of teaching.

Teachermom said...

I don't know that TFA teachers are any better than other first/second year teachers. I worked 14 hour days my first two years - my life was my job. I did some really cool things,had no boundaries, and couldn't support myself on what I made. I would have burned out for sure to keep up at the rate I was going.

Now I have had many more years dealing with administration, and I have a family. My years of experience have made some things easier, for sure, and my BS-o-meter has also helped me to filter things that I did not filter in those first two years.

If TFA could be used to lower class size/assist experienced teachers, that would be great. Other than that, I think they just power the revolving door that most of our neediest schools have.

I do think it may encourage some people to teach who might otherwise not have chosen this career path. But even these fine TFA teachers will grow up at some point.

Ah, for the days when a teacher's marriage was grounds for dismissal.

Renee said...

I think TFA can be a VERY good thing - it gets people in the classroom who hadn't thought of it as a challenging career (or realized the difficulty of it). I do agree that sometimes they can be naive (I was - and actually I went to graduate school first with a scholarship after I didn't get in to TFA). Many of my TFA colleagues in the inner city school that I taught at my first year teaching really didn't have the support. I saw them floudnering and frustrated. I felt like they were thrown in the fray without much support, and I was SO GLAD that I completed my masters first.

I do agree that teaching is a learned skill. But not all can teach - there is some *skill* to it also. Sometimes you can be an amazing Biologist and not a good teacher.

I also think there is something to be said for people liking the idealism and naivety of younger teachers. I was in a new school in my first two years teaching, and the principal took advantage of our younger teacher's idealism. There was some pretty sketchy / bad stuff as in being taken advantage of for MANY extra hours without pay that were required. This would not have happened to a more experienced staff who might know their Union rules, and I think sometimes going at that pace causes you to burn out by the end of your second year. I for one was glad I could just focus on my first year teaching rather than taking classes at the same time.

If you want to see an interesting take on what it can be like for an enthusiastic young TfA like teacher, watch "The Wire". Seriously good stuff. Close to my experience in many ways. I had students saying "F- you I'm not moving my seat"; my colleague had a chair thrown at him; there is a lot of stuff that happens teaching in an inner city school. Enthusiasm can only get you so far, and you will have many many bad days (but that's quid pro quo for your first year teaching).

I *do* think there is something to be said for TfA though. I respect my colleagues, but sometimes they can stick for union rules more than what is best for kids. But as a TfA person (or a young idealistic teacher) you need to be very careful what you say to experienced teachers.

I think we need both groups of teachers - but some TfA people will go back and get their degrees in Education. Some will move on. But they will ALWAYS have the experience, they will be more likely to help out urban schools (however, another issue I have is why is it always the poorer schools that get "experimented" on?). They will realize that teaching is difficult in whatever job they continue to do (there is this myth in society that "those who can't Teach" and that anybody with a college diploma can teach - that you're a glorified babysitter - not so much!). So I think it is good and bad - but I would want a mixture of experienced teachers and TfA teachers at my school.

dan dempsey said...

Dear Seattle Citizen,

"Visible Learning" page 111:

------------------------
The effects of four year college training compared with alternative certification d= -0.01 and compared with emergency licenses d =0.14.

The effect for training in one field but teaching out of field d = 0.09

BUT when compared with teachers who have several years of experience
as opposed to emergency teachers the effect rises to d = 0.39

..... ....
While not a meta-analysis, one of the rare random controlled studies involved assigning students to 44 teachers with emergency licenses and 56 trained teachers (Glazerman, Mayer, & Decker, 2006). They found no differences in reading and d = 0.15 in mathematics. They concluded that "Teach for America" teachers were "an appealing pool of candidates" (p.95) particularly as they serve low-income and often difficult-to-staff schools. At best, it was concluded that teacher education programs appear to make some difference compared to emergency licenses. So much more is needed on this topic.

---------------

Like I said Grover is a cherry-picker.

Dan

Jet City mom said...

As far as I can tell, most teachers, or many, have majored in other things in their undergrad years, and then decide on teaching and take a masters or post-grad program for their cert.

UW and WSU have only master degree education programs I believe.
Other Washington schools do offer a BA in education and there are alternate routes to certification although some districts may hire teachers who are not certified because of shortages.


From what I understand- TFA sponsored teachers teach in at high need areas, to at risk students & teachers do go on to becomey certificated, in fact I know of at least one young man who has become an outspoken advocate of families/teachers in SPS and who speaks at many SPS board meetings who first entered the teaching profession in this way, by way of Washington D.C. schools.

seattle citizen said...

Renee, that was an articulate post.

My question: what do you mean when you write that "I respect my colleagues, but sometimes they can stick for union rules more than what is best for kids"?

Do you have some examples?

Charlie Mas said...

I don't like to see people create conflicts between the students and the union. It's a false conflict.

The union has a job - to protect the interests of the teachers. It is not the union's job to protect the interests of the students. Their interests are often aligned, but not always. I see it all the time, people trying to villify the union saying that they aren't working to make things better for the students - as if that were the union's role! That is the teachers' job, for sure, but not the union's.

Is it the plumbers' union's job to assure running water to every household in America?

Is it the electrical workers' union's job to guarantee electrical power to every home in America and would you blame them when the cost of that power goes up?

Be very wary of people who try to villify folks for not doing a job that isn't their job to do.

If we are going to make it the SEA's job to improve education for every student in Seattle, then what authority are we going to grant them so they can make the necessary changes to bring that about? And why is it their job? Why doesn't that job belong to the Board, the district's senior leadership, and the state legislature - not to mention every one of us?

It's not that I'm enthralled by the union. There's a lot of stuff they don't do particularly well, but let's not blame them for failing to do a job that isn't theirs.

Jet City mom said...

Charlie I understand your point.
The union argues for collective bargaining, because that keeps the highest payroll for the greatest numbers of teachers.
SPS is currently the only game in town, it is not like the administration is going hand the buildings over to Vulcan and have all instruction online- not in the near future anyway.
However, union members are also members of a trade or profession and I would like to think they vote not just to increase their bottom line, but to improve the conditions of their workplace and their product.

Of course if they have no interest in the product or in only specific parts of the product then it is easier to understand how the union membership can vote for things like larger class sizes for severely disabled students and raises large enough to require positions to be cut in order to pay them .

Sahila said...

I agree with Charlie - shock, horror...

With the way this country is run, teachers (all workers) NEED a union... while you would think that teachers'/parents'/children's interests would pretty much overlap, especially if we all (as a society) want the best for our kids and we were all being mature and sensible and fair/just about things/expectation, often that's not the case... and then its the union's job to protect teachers' interests... its not the union's job to protect the interests of our children - really, that's the Board's responsibility... but seeing they are doing such a poor job of that, several people I have been talking with over the past six months have suggested (in all seriousness) that we form a Parents' Union and do that ourselves....

seattle citizen said...

Emeraldkity, you write that
"if they have no interest in the product or in only specific parts of the product then it is easier to understand how the union membership can vote for things like larger class sizes for severely disabled students and raises large enough to require positions to be cut in order to pay them."
The union exists to protect and further the interests of its membership. It is one half of an endless negotiation between itself and "management" (District admin.) It is not in the union's purview to entangle itself in the policy of the "corporation" (Public education, as represented in this instance by District.)
The public (education) through its District sets policy, including class-size ("larger class sizes for severely disabled students") and hiring/firing ("positions to be cut in order to pay them [higher salaries]")
It is up to the public, thorugh its representative District, to negotiare with the workforcehow big classes should be, what salary to pay, and how much money it is willing to cough up in order to have whatever class size it wants and the staff to staff those classes.

Without the public (District) offering jobs, there would be no union. The District comes to the union members and says, we'll pay this, and we'll hire so many. The union members respond, no, that's not enough or that's too many cuts, or it responds that's enough, but still too many cuts. District counteroffers, etc.

THIS is the job of the union, through its membership and representatives. Sure, these negotiations involve both sides making decisions that others can then point to and say, see! that side hates children! But it can't be any other way: it's an adversarial relationship at its base, and neither side will ever get what it wants: In an ideal world for each, District wants free teachers, union wants helicopter rides to work. Of COURSE both sides know that this won't happen: the aim is to keep the high goals so a fair compromise can be reached.

But policy is still in the domain of the district (public, in this case): They want toNOT cut jobs while giving raises? Then pony up more money - if the raise are fair, then why lay the "guilt" on the union? If the public doesn't want to pony up to maintain class size and staffing, given its own policy (they, District, decides "how many"), don't blame the union for wanting to maintain raises, blame the public for failing to provide enough money to pay a fair wage and maintain appropriate staffing and class size.

Or do away with the union. Then the public can pay as little as it wants, cut staff whenever, stuff classes to the gills to maintain "efficiency" and maximize profits, uh, minimize expenditures.

seattle citizen said...

The corollary benefit of the union is that by arguing the interests of its rank and file, it keeps teachers economically satisfied (one hopes) so they can give their full attention to their students. Another corollary is that in arguing to keep as many positions as possible the union potentially keeps class sizes small.
In a corporate model without represented staff, it is in the economic interest (and that's what it's all about, in these negotiations) of the district to cut as many jobs as possible, to pack classrooms, and to pay as little as possible (and fire at will when a teacher gets too "expensive": In a world of six billion, there are many more hungry people standing ready to be a scab.

Jet City mom said...

If the public doesn't want to pony up to maintain class size and staffing, given its own policy (they, District, decides "how many"), don't blame the union for wanting to maintain raises, blame the public for failing to provide enough money to pay a fair wage and maintain appropriate staffing and class size.

I-728 did allow for smaller class sizes, however it also allowed principals to use the money for teacher training, not more teachers, which is why in most buildings we did not see smaller class sizes.

I am quite familiar with unions, my husband has been in a union for 30+ years and has been a shop steward.However when he goes on strike, we are out that income, we don't get to extend the year to make it up because he is hopefully working year round anyway, at a job that pays much less per hour than a teacher with lower pension and health care benefits.

Median household income in Seattle is $45,000. According to the state website : state contribution to teacher salaries is $34,446 for the 2008-2009 school year for a teacher with a bachelors degree and no experience.

Twelve school districts receive a higher allocation for base salary.

So the public is supposed to vote on giving the teachers more money than they have for their own families?
Sounds like the logic the district uses.

I have neighbors who are moving to California because they found class sizes of twenty and less than twenty for elementary students, and a (pay scale slightly higher than Seattles)

They didn't make that decision lightly, they have been living here since before their kids were born and their kids have been attending Seattle schools for several years-

Makes me cry.

"They are deliberately raising class size after assuring us that there would be no RIFs [Reduction In Force]. I can't concentrate anymore because I'm thinking about my job."

There are many ways to obtain the money, if class size and "excellence for all"--the catch phrase used by SPS--were truly priorities for the district. The district has the largest "rainy day" fund in the state. Seattle has about 5 percent of its budget, close to $28 million, in reserve. The district also has $22 million of interest earned on capital funds, which could be used to avoid layoffs.

The district has also announced increased student enrollment next September, with up to 500 additional students. Laying off teachers at a time when more students are entering the district is contradictory.

As Jesse Hagopian, a laid-off teacher and activist, said at the rally:

This district spends 39 percent more on administration than any other district in the state. It closed five schools and closed down 13 other programs. This is an economic monsoon. It's time to tap the rainy day fund. There's over $20 million in interest in the capital fund. It's a disgrace.

seattle citizen said...

EK,
I'm not following your thoughts here:
"Median household income in Seattle is $45,000. According to the state website : state contribution to teacher salaries is $34,446 for the 2008-2009 school year for a teacher with a bachelors degree and no experience."

okay...What does median income have to do with it? The question is, what is a teacher worth to the district/public? Many in the median don't have BAs. I'm not following this. 34,000 sounds about right for entry level college-educated. What are you getting at?
Then:
"Twelve school districts receive a higher allocation for base salary."
Still I wodner what this means. Is Seattle one of them?
Then:
"So the public is supposed to vote on giving the teachers more money than they have for their own families?"
Ummm...well, some families yes. If the family is making only 30,000 per year (say one of them is a high school grad, a waiter) I'd hope that they would pay teachers with college degrees more than they make. Again, I'm not following you.

But what does any of this have to do with union? As I wrote above, the union exists to be one side of the negotiation. They ask for higher wages, the district counters...would you like the union to ask for lower wages?

seattle citizen said...

oh, and the public DID vote on giving more money to teachers, via I-728. The fact that the money might, in some instances, been spent on other things isn't the fault of the union nor its teachers.

wseadawg said...

There is nothing inherently wrong with TFA, just as there is nothing inherently wrong with a corporation. However, both can be, and are used as vehicles to change and manipulate conditions in ways that harm the public interest. TFA teachers must only commit to 2 years in the classroom, then they move on to other careers, or many are picked to be groomed in educational fields and administration. The latest stats I read indicated that only about 4% of TFA grads keep teaching. On the other hand, the attrition rate for new traditionally trained teachers is extremely high as well, so both groups have their problems with retention.

TFA grads, however, being supposedly chosen from among the best of the best schools, are quickly filling up the ranks of many educational think tanks, curriculum companies and the like, and pushing for reforms far and wide in public education, based upon all that awesome knowledge and experience they gained in TWO YEARS OF TEACHING!

What other profession would treat as experts worthy of formulating educational policies in the nation persons who were trained for only five weeks, then worked for only two years in a field, the first of which many conclude they failed their students?

How much talent and wisdom could such people actually possess?

I think TFA is a great form of service, and certainly an educational experience for its members. But the idea that it is a vehicle for replacing traditional teachers or filling the teacher shortage, is to me, beyond laughable. Yet they rake in millions and millions from corporate America in its quest to privatize the profits of public education, while publicizing the losses. Oh, there I go again.

wseadawg said...

I guess my point is that, wow, okay, TFA may be great. But only for awhile.

By definition, it is an unsustainable model unless we desire constant turnover of teachers and place almost no value on experience and age.

Sahila said...

wseadawg - you have it in a nutshell...

does it take being a certain age, you think, to see and name things as they are???

am looking for cause and effect here, in an effort to understand various points of view...

Maybe the ability to see the patterns and extrapolate from history and experience only comes after you reach the age of 45, say???

seattle citizen said...

WSEAdawg,
You write that you "think TFA is a great form of service, and certainly an educational experience for its members"

Is five weeks training enough?
If not, then it is NOT a great form of service: It might provide the TFA enrollees (I hesitate to call them teachers, no disrespect...are they even certified?) a feeling of doing good, but if it is not a service to students then it is not a great service.

Rememeber a few years back (and still) the discussions in the news that asked why we couldn't just hire people who were experienced in their fields, forget whether they had any training? This is like that, but they're already doing it (but are these MIT grads, etc, teaching in their fields of expertise, one wonders).

Do teachers need training before they become teachers, and what kind? That is the pertinent question.

Whether it's a "good experience" for the TFAS people or not is a moot point. The question is whether they are capable of teaching.

As you say, people in front of our children should be teachers, not temps or warm bodies.

I will again add, however, that no disrespect is intended. I'm certain that many of these people join with the purest intentions.

(I noted on the TFA website numerous places where they ask for teachers to apply. I wonder if they're having trouble getting enough MIT, Yale and Harvard graduates to apply?)

owlhouse said...

I'm concerned that TFA fails students coming and going. First, bringing untrained inexperienced "teachers" in to a classroom is obviously problematic. Maybe they can "teach" their core subject areas. It's less likely they can help a student navigate the rest of the school system and resources necessary/available. They do not have classroom "management" skills- and I wonder again about the social cost to students who don't have strong teachers to advocate for them.

Second, TFAers leave schools, leave education at a much higher rate than other teachers. This rapid turn over hurts education. Students are not just acquiring academic knowledge at school- they are living, building relations, learning their place in the world. Teacher retention is one of the building blocks of a successful school community. The value of a 2nd grade teacher attending 5th grade graduation to see "her" students off to middle school is not to be underestimated. When a struggling junior can visit with his trusted freshman LA teacher for advice- it a counseling/mentoring/safety net system we can't replicate.

So- if it's valuable to bring in "teachers" with different backgrounds- why not bring them in as aids? Allow them to create curriculum for electives? In other words, respect teaching as a profession and recognize that TFA is really an internship-type program and requires direct oversight by experienced teachers.

And- if we see a value in "enthusiasm" and broad skills/interests of TFAers- let's rethink continuing ed for our professional teachers. Let's recognize that teachers empowered to guide their classes and schools, teachers with the resources to create the learning environments they know will serve their students- are enthusiastic.

Sahila said...

What owlhouse said>>.. :-)!

Arizona foreclosures said...

Here's my post from the other, unrelated thread:
Off-topic, but there's a short piece in today's Parade Magazine (inserted in tens of millions of newspapers across the country) about how unions supposedly mess with "the youngest teachers...a fresh source of idealism, energy, and ideas for reform" Seattle Electrician

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