TFA - UW and SPS and Outcomes

I have to thank so many of you for your input.  You don't know how many times someone either reaches out to me at my Save Seattle Schools e-mail ( or writes something here that sticks in my brain.  It's like a phantom itch; it doesn't matter how much you scratch, you can't make it go away.

So I think I have figured out (and some of you probably as well) why TFA is so damn sure they'll be putting their recruits into SPS.   That Wendy Kopp doesn't even try to demur should tell you something.  (Janis Ortega, the regional TFA director, does the same thing in her e-mails to the Dean of the UW's College of Education.   Funny, he never asks her why she's so sure.)

They are sure because I would bet money that the district has a quiet agreement (beyond the contract) about TFA.  Here's how it will work:

As many of you have point out, there are many schools (not just a couple) that the district projects as under-enrolled.  One of them is Garfield which, as we all know, is a laughable thought.  You couple this year's enrollment figures, look at historic neighborhood enrollment (you can extract that information from our previous choice assignment plan) AND the sky-is-falling capacity management projections and you KNOW there will be very few under-enrolled schools.

But, if the district has a significant number of schools with projected under-enrollment, then they RIF at those schools.

Come the first day of school, masses of students show up.  Whoops!  Oh my gosh, look at all those kids who need a teacher!

Well, the first people they call are from within the district including the RIFs.  But the district knows by the first day of school few teachers either want to move from schools they are assigned to and few RIFed teachers will be available because they have moved on.  

Who is left to plug the holes?  TFA recruits.  

Works out well, no?  

And, of course, then about in October, you know, right before the general election, Gates or someone suddenly gives a great gift or grant to the district and boy, do those incumbents shine.   I believe it's called a quid pro quo and yes, I absolutely believe it's going to happen.

See, it would be one thing if the School Board, said, look, we won't promise TFA any jobs but they can interview and let the principals decide.  But that wouldn't have been good enough for TFA.  So there has to be some way to make sure it happens.  Well, if the district is going out of its way to make sure TFA comes in, I'm sure they want something back. 

So we need to call the Board on this RIGHT NOW.   Again, ask them - why are SO many schools projected as under-enrolled?  

Now, onto the UW and its College of Education which seems to have some real problems brewing. 

As one commenter said, it is true that out of nowhere (because there was no hint of it at last Wednesday's meeting with grad students), the Dean has decided that there will be summer courses to allow their grad students to be done in time so they can be eligible to apply for any open Puget Sound teaching jobs in September.   Just like that. 

Smell that?  That's the whiff of someone getting a little desperate.  I do believe that the Dean has had his cage rattled and he realized that he can't just steamroll the grad students and the faculty. 

TFA always expects something. Always.   They act like they are doing someone a big favor and therefore, want something in return.  If they can get someone else to pay for stuff, they will.

So what that means for example at UW is maybe these perks for TFA and only TFA students:
  • scholarships
  • "negotiated" tuition rates
  • deferred billing
  • stipends to cover their in-school classroom expenses
These are items they have negotiated with other universities. 

Do you think it fair for TFA recruits to get these benefits that UW College of Education grads don't get?  That regular UW undergrads don't get?   In these hard fiscal times, when UW is admitting fewer in-state students, TFA is importing mostly out-of-state students who get special breaks on tuition?  Do you know how many first-year teachers would love for someone to give them money for classroom needs? 

But TFA, sure. 

Those of you with high school students, is this fair for your child who might want to go to UW?  

It's not. 

(I'll wrap up with one last part on next steps and why I don't "hate" TFA.) 


Gouda said…
Dear "Journalist" Westbrook:

You get upset that you are not invited to press events. And then you come up with entries like these that are entirely conjecture.

Do you have ANY proof for what you're saying? AT ALL?

Oh, right. No.

You continue to want your cake and eat it too.
cdubs said…
@ Melissa. Great post! This would seem to put UW in a very bad light as a public university. As I'm no lawyer, I would think that giving preferential treatment to a certain segment of the student body is discriminatory to say the least. Please do correct me if I'm wrong.

As for the TfA'ers and the Ed-reformers. The attempt at privatizing will not work with the SPS. These private, non-profit(LOL) groups attempt at trying to get to the $$$ trough of the taxpayers is being exposed very easily.

Speak truth to the people, not to power, as power already knows the truth.
Actually, I have sources which, of course, I cannot reveal.

I have e-mails that show an absolute belief by TFA with no room for doubt about coming into SPS.

I have Wendy Kopp's own words.

I have the district's own capacity management presentation.

I have the district's figures that show under-enrollment at many buildings.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see line things up. People like Wendy Kopp don't use words like "will" and not mean it. You can't see the capacity management plan and then think, "Oh but many of our schools, even popular ones, will be under-enrolled for 2011-2012."

If I'm wrong (and I"m not on the main point of how TFA is getting into SPS), then I'll eat my words. But I feel fairly certain, via all my research and sources, that this is the plan.
seattle citizen said…
Gouda, MW has done plenty of research. She has gone to more meetings, emailed more relevant officials, requested more documentation than any other journalist in Seattle (in my opinion.)

The chain of events she posits here make perfect sense to those of us who have been watching the Teach For Awhile debacle unfold. I mean, we've all heard Ms Kopp's piece on the radio, how sure she is that TFA WILL have placements in Seattle next fall, and we've all seen the undercounts, and we've all seen the district RIF teachers...It is apparent to all that there will be openings next fall, BECAUSE teachers were laid off this spring or not hired to fill what will certainly be openings come fall...

Do you have a suggestion, Gouda, as to how TFA will get its 20-25 contracted Teach-For-Awhile warm bodies into classrooms in any other fashion? Please, let us know.

As to the UW/TFA craptitude, we'll just see how that unfolds, eh? Unless you, Gouda, can also inform us of the fairness and ethical aspects of Stritikus bringing in his TFA to compete with legitimate certificate candidates....Or is MW just conjecturing about that, too?

Ms Westbrook is, I'm sure, more knowledgeable about Seattle education than just about anybody in the room, and her "research" in this case merely confirms what most of us already suspect.

TFA, on the other hand, and (apparently) Stritikus, know little or nothing about Seattle education, as evidenced by their blatant attempt to manufacture circumstances where they might be welcome.

Heck, TFA (on its Seattle web site) says that its non-certs will be teaching IN Puget Sound! Ha!
peonypower said…
Exactly what I said at the board meeting on RIFs- that with under enrollment and the RIFs there would be a rush in September. Bull@#$% is right. Tried to explain the position that teachers have on TFA to a board member but they just don't get it.
seattle citizen said…
Maybe they DO get it, peonypower, but like the idea of a cheap workforce? One that never rises above three years on the pay scale and thus cuts costs? One that represents the deprofessionalizing of education into mere canned instruction, and thus lowers the costs even more?
seattle citizen said…
Heck, if they could make the whole system "teach for awhile," labor costs would be cut by a third.
Anonymous said…
The more I reflect on TFA alums glowing testimony and all the media stories and the huge financial leverage from key backers the more I see brown shirts, Mao hats, and religious fundamentalists. There will not be any room left for debate or dissent. Plutocrats and technocrats will rule the day.

ken berry
Wondering said…
Which schools are projected as under-enrolled? Level 1?
Zebra (or Zulu) said…
This sounds like the Vietnam War...

"We had to destroy the village to save it."

There are two plausible scenarios currently underway in SPS.

The first; there is a massive amount of incompetence and dogma-driven decision making within SPS, all of which will lead to unintended consequences. Evidence is strong for this scenario, but it just seems so strange that a public institution could be so poorly run. This is not Alabama or's Seattle for Pete's sake.

The second; there is a well-orchestrated campaign (supported by some very adept PR wonks and consultants) designed to deteriorate Seattle Schools to such an extent as to foment a public outcry for rescue. Which "White Knight" will ride in to fix the mess? The privatizers who stand to make billions in this new emerging market. This scenario requires deep knowledge of the District to comprehend. Melissa (and Charlie) has the inside on this and I usually believe her (and him).

The second scenario requires a well-coordinated external effort and co-optation, I realize. However, examine the players and the flow of money and you will begin to see a disturbing pattern.

The fox is going into the henhouse...TFA will open the gate open.
Anonymous said…
Well Gouda,

If the UW would just timely release public records, there would be a definitive answer to your question.

Gouda is a stinky cheese (?)
dan dempsey said…
Dear Gouda,

I suggest you read the following article in the NY Times: Behind Grass-Roots School Advocacy, Bill Gates

Published: May 21, 2011

...... "For years, Bill Gates focused his education philanthropy on overhauling large schools and opening small ones. His new strategy is more ambitious: overhauling the nation’s education policies. To that end, the foundation is financing educators to pose alternatives to union orthodoxies on issues like the seniority system and the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers.

In some cases, Mr. Gates is creating entirely new advocacy groups. The foundation is also paying Harvard-trained data specialists to work inside school districts, not only to crunch numbers but also to change practices. It is bankrolling many of the Washington analysts who interpret education issues for journalists and giving grants to some media organizations."
someone said…
"there is a massive amount of incompetence and dogma-driven decision making within SPS" - well duh! If the rest of SPS is anything like the one dept I've heard about for a while now, then it would be frigheningly easy to manipulate things to make inroads without anyone realizing it till it's waaaay to late. The right hand and the left hand not only don't talk, they are living on seperate contintents!

And Gouda - I'm guessing MW isn't stupid enough to make these kinds of suggested scenarios without having the documentation to prove it. She's certainly put more time in than any Seattle Times reporter does.
dan dempsey said…
continued on Gates from NY Times above:

“It’s Orwellian in the sense that through this vast funding they start to control even how we tacitly think about the problems facing public education,” said Bruce Fuller, an education professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who said he received no financing from the foundation.

Mr. Hess, a frequent blogger on education whose institute received $500,000 from the Gates foundation in 2009 “to influence the national education debates,” acknowledged that he and others sometimes felt constrained. “As researchers, we have a reasonable self-preservation instinct,” he said. “There can be an exquisite carefulness about how we’re going to say anything that could reflect badly on a foundation.

Everybody’s implicated,” he added.

Note: This is written by Sam Dillion of the New York Times (A real Journalist, just like Mel Westbrook).

Seems I've heard this a lot before Sam put this on the front page of the NYT. Perhaps a few more folks will now finally get it.
Anonymous said…
Journalist Westbrook -- what a wonderful name! I think this blog should adopt that name for her. She certainly does enough work to be a professional journalist. But she does have one trait that most professional journalists don't have. When she find out she is wrong about something, she makes the correction immediately, not waiting for a bunch of people to jump on the "MW is wrong! She is misleading us!"

Melissa is always careful to say, "Someone told me," or "I heard" . . . and she almost always includes a statement to the effect that she will follow up on it or asks other members of the blog to see what they can find out. She openly sites her sources unless her sources have requested anonymity, but even then, the things she says are easily verifiable if you are doing to work yourself to find out. And if she is giving a possible example of the way something might be accomplished, she labels it as that -- a possible example or scenario, not a fact.

I think (notice I said "think") that Gouda's post is an attempt to move the discussion away from TFA and the effect it is going to have on our schools by attempting to focus attention on Melissa.

Let's focus on TFA, folks. Let's focus on our children.

Gouda, stand up and fight fair.

Scrapin' Mom
anonymous said…
I'm going to chime in here with my charming naivety again. I think Wendy Kopp has very lofty goals, but goals are all she has. TFA has no contract with SPS guaranteeing the placement of 25 of their recruits. They don't even have a contract that guarantees placement of one of their recruits in SPS. Why? Why do you think there is no contract?

The spotlight is shining bright on TFA right now (thanks very much, in part, to Melissa and this blog). Seattle is a city full of involved, active parents, and strong teachers who aren't going to let TFA recruits just slip in under the radar. And a principal that decides to hire an under trained TFA recruit over a formally trained first year teacher, or an experienced teacher from the displaced pool, will not be very popular amongst their staff or parents. My guess is they'd take some serious heat in their building.

I don't think TFA is going to get 25 teachers in SPS. They may get their recruits in other WA state school districts, but I don't think they will be successful here in SPS.

So that's my naive prediction. We'll have to wait to see what happens.
Po3 said…
I think you are spot on and is why I would love to see RIFs by school and then see where the TFAers are placed. Pretty sure there will be a direct coorelation.
Sahila said…
Peon - you are mistaken... SPS and TFA DO HAVE A CONTRACT...

here's the KUOW report on that:
Seattle schools OK TFA contract
another mom said…
Peon -the only other school district that agreed to take TFA is Federal Way. Unless I missed something there were no other districts that climbed aboard the TFA express. Yup, you are correct Seattle did not guarantee spots but it is naieve to think that there will be no TFA recruits placed in Seattle this fall.
Sahila said…
OOPs.... make that the KPLU report on the contract....
Anonymous said…
I came upon this crisis from the point of view of someone connected to the Masters in Teaching program. The more I found out about it the angrier I became. But as I began looking around me, I began seeing the same pattern of crisis development in almost every controversy I came across.

With that in mind, I decided to quote some passages from an article in a national newspaper. This article has nothing to do with education, but the quotes could have been made about this TFA situation.

1) "True friends are critical friends."

2) "The worst poison is distrust."

3.) Leaders "are no less susceptible to adulation than the average man."

4) When a leader is forced to make a choice between two radically opposing views, he must make that choice with the knowledge that his choice "may cause more isolation and instability" rather than the improvement that was intended.

5) We "must move beyond short-term tactics to adopt a strategy that will take us beyond our seige mentality."

It seems to me that TFA has managed to make all of these things work in their favor.

Techno Mom
nickerson said…
TFA people are the most out-of-place looking staff in the building. Do a little research and find out how they get in the class. Someone with years of experience with urban school districts cant even get an interview from TFA. Is this what the highly qualified teacher is supposed to be?
Anonymous said…
True friends are critical friends? What? I thought we were all in the same boat here.

The Favorite One
Anonymous said…
Absolutely, we are all in the same boat. That's why we all need access to valid information. That's why we need to look at this problem from all directions -- although I still come down against TFA.

Part of becoming an adult is the ability to accept feedback on your opinions (otherwise known as criticism), evaluate that feedback, and then choose which parts of the feedback are valid and might change your mind and which parts of the feedback simply don't apply. This blog helps with that.

Techno Mom
Anonymous said…
Okay, but what about "Process without end favors the status quo."

The Favorite One
Anonymous said…
over the last 4 years, if you want to guess where things are going the chances of you making the right tinfoil hat to channel the right guesses - those chances weren't great if you look too far in the future.

However, if you go back to any singular point in time and you only wrapped 1 layer of tinfoil around your head, the chance that your outlandish wild ideas were close to correct were pretty good.

if you assume something evil and something venal from dean for a while tom terrific, and his clique of toadies forever, you have a really good chance of being correct.

too bad tom terrific & wendy weren't upfront with the sheep of the u.w. - the degrees of your students will be worthless because we're gonna McJob their careers, there are lots of direct flights from NYC to Seattle and Seattle is a great getaway from the east coast, and we're turning your silly little college of thumb twiddlers into a 5 week wonder factory, and Wendy will be getting a corner office!

I Can See Wendy's Corner Office From My House.
Anonymous said…
That's one of the biggest jokes we are playing on ourselves. We have this huge bureaucracy set up to handle almost everything. The SPS bureaucracy is one of the best examples I have ever seen. I've been looking around different sites on this blog. Almost every subject I have looked at provides examples of people asking for information but being denied receipt of it. The excuses are always good. But in the end, it always comes down to following the process to the letter. That is why process without end favors the status quo.

How does that favor TFA? Because TFA has secret doors opened for them by people who are within the system and greedy, ambitious, or true believers.

Techno Mom
Anonymous said…
We know that the decision to bring TFA into our schools may result in making our schools more isolated and less stable because if TFA eventually becomes the norm for teachers, and that is the goal, then we will, indeed have cookie cutter schools. And for them to succeed, the standards will have to be lowered, not raised. And the TFA standards and procedures manuals will reflect exactly what is to be done.

Techno Mom
anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said…
Sahila, I know that TFA has a contract with SPS, but the contract does not stipulate that we must hire a single TFA recruit.

Another mom, I didn't say that no TFA recruits will be hired, I said I doubt very seriously that 25 recruits will be hired. The spotlight is shining bright on TFA right now. A couple of recruits may get hired, but they won't slip in under the radar. The push back the district will get from teachers and parents, and the bad PR that is sure to accompany that, will probably be enough to have the district back off of hiring TFA recruits.

Again, that is just my opinion. We'll have to wait and see what happens.
dan dempsey said…
Speaking of really fine journalism.... yeah right.

Check the latest at the Times=>

Moving forward following the Ingraham High principal dust-up

Seattle Public Schools interim Superintendent Susan Enfield's listening skills and flexibility are deservedly credited with the reinstatement of Ingraham High School's principal. However problematic the execution of her first major decision, the issues it dealt with were grounded in matters Enfield knows well as the district's former chief academic officer.
cdubs said…
Another article from the Seattle Times.

At the same time, the foundation has just three trustees, Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, and no board of directors. Instead, it operates advisory panels with a handful of outside experts for each of its three main programs — global health, global development and U.S. education — but the meetings and reports are not made public. Despite its humanitarian intentions, its power to influence policy without a public process has raised concern.
cdubs said…
At the same time, the foundation has just three trustees, Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, and no board of directors. Instead, it operates advisory panels with a handful of outside experts for each of its three main programs — global health, global development and U.S. education — but the meetings and reports are not made public. Despite its humanitarian intentions, its power to influence policy without a public process has raised concern.
cdubs said…
Is there a specific reason that my last two posts have been removed? I haven't removed any of my posts?
Po3 said…
Add this to the crystal ball. No RIFs next year because all the TFAers hired this year to replaced RIFfed teachers, who will have moved on by Sept, will have one more year on their contract.

The following year, look for lots of openings.
Anonymous said…
Is it really true that RIFd teachers would not be available in September when it turns out there is greater enrollment than expected?

This year my third-grader’s teacher was on maternity leave at the beginning of the year. They had to fill all other positions before getting the long-term sub for her classroom which means the position wasn’t officially filled until the Friday before school started. We still got a great teacher from the RIF list. And, according to one teacher I spoke to, they had three really strong candidates to choose from and had difficulty making the decision.

none1111 said…
Peon said: A couple of recruits may get hired, but they won't slip in under the radar. The push back the district will get from teachers and parents, and the bad PR that is sure to accompany that, will probably be enough to have the district back off of hiring TFA recruits.

I would be careful about thinking like that.

Within any teaching group there will be a few "all-stars". If they are very careful to "install" a couple of their absolute best candidates, then it will be much less likely to get building-level pushback. At that point the wedge is in place.

It's also much easier to complain about an organization or a process than it is to complain about an individual, especially when a specific individual isn't doing anything egregiously bad.

These folks aren't stupid, they've been running their show for years, and I'm sure they know what they're doing. The bogus process needs to be daylighted to the general public somehow. Right now it's still mostly the education wonks and blog readers that understand the full story.
Maureen said…
Peon has confidence that pushback from parents and staff will limit the impact of TfA, but I'm not sure if that is a realistic expectation for all of our schools. I've been on hiring committees before. In my experience, interviews are often scheduled with such short notice or at such inconvenient times that the pool of teachers and parents who can volunteer is very small. I can imagine that a determined principal could pretty easily design a sympathetic committee (how many parents at RBHS are currently trained to be on hiring committees? Are they representative of the population, or of particular interest groups?).
Chris S. said…
Good points, none 1111.

You reminded me of two things.

1)Wasn't there some rumor of superstar/TFA alum Chrissy Coxon leaving W. Sea. Elem? True?

2)Peter Maier, in his one act of backbone- or maybe just cartilage - amended the TFA contract to require measurement.

I agree about the process, but let's be sure to measure any and all TFAers in SPS - recruits and alums both. Chrissie Coxon makes me wonder if even TFA graduates who stay in teaching may have shorter average half-lives than full-certs. You know, the Mary Poppins model - swoop in, fix children, swoop out - might get permanently ingrained.
Dorothy Neville said…
I also believe that TfA is going to send its best and brightest here to Seattle. I believe that we will see very top candidates in science and math and especially candidates of color. Just who they said they were going to send.

You know, like in netflix when you first joined back in the day, you would get priority placement and fast response for popular movies in your queue. Then after a few months, no more priority, but you would have to wait (gasp!) longer for new movies. Same here. Seattle is going to get candidates that are too good to pass up.
Dorothy Neville said…
Chris, I don't know. For every Chrissie Coxon there may be a Chris Eide who does seem to be walking his talk, still teaching middle school math at a high needs school.
Chris S. said…
Oh, has he been here more than two years?
Gigi, if you read my post carefully, yes, the first people offered those positions would be teachers in SPS (who might want to move) and then RIFs. BUT, both groups, by the first day of school are overwhelmingly likely to have already made their choices and will not move.

The district knows this and therefore, knows there will be many open seats (especially for the TFA recruits with a math/science degree of which we might see 6-8 interview out of 12 available in Puget Sound).

I'm going to have to do some deeper research on TFA and who stays, for how long and where. But I do know that they skew, as does the rest of teaching, female, and the female TFAers seem to get better results than the males.

There's also a good study out that is the most fair-minded that I've seen (and I saw it so long ago I forgot about it until one commenter mentioned it recently). I'll post that soon.
Dorothy Neville said…
Eide was TFA in 2003 and seems to have been teaching ever since. In Seattle more than two years? Perhaps not. But instead of the flashy Coxon situation, just a teacher in the trenches doing his job.
Anonymous said…

If you read my post carefully, you would understand that I was questioning your assumption that RIF teachers would have "overwhelmingly likely" accepted some other placement by September. The RIF list is long and teachers know that jobs come up through the fall. And even if they don't, where else are they more likely to find a job?

In my experience last year, there were still good teachers from the RIF list who were applying for jobs in September. Why would this year be any different?

seattle citizen said…
GiGi, Melissa, and others:
Let's not forget that Level One (or is it SIG schools, it's all so confusing) skip the first two hiring phases (internal) and go right to Phase III, anybody welcome to apply.
So in the past, RIFfed teachers could apply BEFORE TFA or anybody else; now they "get to" apply WITH TFA, et al, at schools that are most "troubled."

I could easily see TFA candidates being stuffed onto the interview lists ahead of RIFfed certificated teachers, just because someone wants it that way.
Charlie Mas said…
A big fuss was made about how TfA corps members couldn't apply for teaching jobs until the Tier III hiring period, after internal applicants.

None of the Board members seemed to notice - and none of the staff mentioned - that the TfA folks were only interested in positions at the Level 1 and Level 2 schools and that those schools would not have Tier I and Tier II hiring periods.

Funny, huh?

That makes all of that fuss about waiting for the Tier III hiring period either silly, a mistake, or an intentional deception.

I'm guessing intentional deception.
Maureen said…
Charlie, Who was it that pulled Ann Chan away from the podium before she blundered and disclosed that? (I thought she was just clueless, but now I think that she probably knew enough to know she might screw up and divulge something the Board didn't know.) I'm thinking it was Holly Ferguson, but I could be wrong.
Anonymous said…
Are there any ethics problems with this, that is from a legal standpoint?
Anonymous said…
Okay, peeps, I see eye to eye with so many of you but this one thing is driving me nuts. As someone very familiar with the prerequisites and course offerings in typical (i.e., U.W., Western, etc.) teacher prep progams, I have a question: Are many of you aware how generally useless many teachers think even "top" programs are? Ask a teacher you know-- if they could have gone the TFA UW route instead of th traditional route, would they have? Most teachers I come into contact with would say give me the shorter butmore intense-- and more mentored later, i.e., the TFA style route. In this state the PESB has a chokehold on teacher prep programs, and there are very limited alternative routes and tons of hoops to jump through. Do those hoops ultimately benefit kids? In my opinion, no. I wanted this perspective to appear on the blog too.

Wishing for Less Bureaucracy and More Mentoring
Anonymous said…
seattlecitizen and charlie-

Thanks. That was the clarification I was looking for. I didn't understand the Tiered hiring periods properly.

So, how do I tell which schools are Levels 1, 2, or 3?

Anonymous said…
Remember non-believers, if they're still any out there, Gates gave $2.5 in grant money to TFA to open an office in the Puget Sound.

Dora Taylor
Signing in as Anonymous because blogger sucks.
Anonymous said…
And one other thing to remember, parents are the bottom line to all of this.

If you don't want some recruit fresh out of college with no education in teaching who will be out the door in at the most 2 years in your school then not only do you tell the do-nothing board (except Patu) now your concerns but you also tell your principals that having TFA recruits who are inadequately prepared to teach any child is not an option and raise a stink! These are our children and billionaires who think they know the way but don't should not have a say in what we know is best for our students.

End of story.

Dora Taylor
Signing in as Anonymous because, well you know...
Dorothy_Neville said…
Wishing. I sympathize and agree with a lot of what you say. I do think the TfA model is flawed, however in several ways.

TfA is a peace corps model of two years of very challenging service that will inspire future actions back in the real world, not a model for developing teachers. So if we had a similar model but with the idea of creating sustainable teachers, we'd need to do things a little differently. More mentoring, less ambition?

TfA has a cult-like attitude that they are better than other teachers. Watch the public testimony from last Fall's board meetings. It was disturbing to hear person after person not saying "we are good, you will be happy with us" but "we are so much better, we are the only teachers who care." How does that attitude build good teachers who work together. Teaching, like parenting, is about the most humbling job one can do. Collaboration, flexibility, confidence tempered with humility are all important.

The TfA model seems to suck mentoring out of other teachers without a clear plan and without considering the cost to the other teachers. Additionally, it's hit or miss because TfA recruits in very challenging schools mean they might not find good mentors, only other new teachers. Plus, teaching in a challenging school is more work (as the ed-reform movement who wants to incentivize it agrees) so good teachers who are already there in the challenging schools are already overworked -- how can they be effective mentors to new crop of TfAers all the time? As Tom said, it would be the duty of a knowledgeable teacher to mentor a newbie TfA teacher on the side. Without acknowledgement, without time built into the day, without support for their own classes.

I'd like to see schools designed for institutionalized mentoring. What if a school with 30 teachers had 10 student/novice teachers on board for a whole year. That would allow for flexible grouping, extra collaboration time, lots and lots of opportunities for these novices to take over classes, to observe and participate in classroom management, curriculum development, the daily ins and outs of education.
Anonymous said…
To Anonymous,

Seattle had 3 TFA recruits some years ago at Rainier Beach. The teacher who shared this with an audience at RBHS said that the TFA recruits required a lot of time and hand holding because they were not at all prepared to teach in a real school. This became an additional load on other teachers who already had their hands full with their own responsibilities.

If you mean by "mentoring" that staff will have to take their time to basically provide them with the rest of their education or as an alternative, pay for mentors to help these unprepared teachers along, I would consider that a bad idea.

Dora Taylor
Signing in as Anonymous...
someone said…
Interesting column on ed reform in Huff Post

Creating Educational Monocultures
Jan said…
Wishing for Less Bureaucracy:

Yes! As someone who has always wanted to switch careers and teach, and who has (after research and talking to teachers) been appalled at some of the dreck laded into the teacher prep curriculum -- yes! I think TfA, as it is currently constituted, is a bad, bad idea for all schools except those whose alternatives are uncertified or emergency sub teachers teaching out of their areas (I would take a bright, passionate TfA'er who majored in math for a math class in that case, hands down -- just like in the Peace Corps, you might be happy to have an uncertificated, intensively trained over a summer teacher instead of -- no teacher at all!)

I have always felt that the current programs exist to justify the existence of weak Ed departments and suck maximum tuition from teacher candidates, while doing far less to prepare them for teaching than they could do with fewer classes and much more time in mentored schoolrooms.

Wouldn't it be great if, instead of TfA, the Gates Foundation had thrown its money and influence behind an alternative certification program like the one Dorothy proposes -- where there is a lot less time in really lame classes, and a lot more time student teaching, teaching paired with mentor master teachers, teaching with observation and critical self-assessment/filming, etc. You could even designate "teaching schools" -- like "teaching hospitals" where the administrators were also picked for their ability to run a school that is heavily involved in teacher training.

In the back of my mind, as this TfA debate has raged on, I have been thinking that it is done SO badly that it will likely also screw up any efforts in the future to reform the teachers certificate/masters in teaching model in a way that truly COULD make it better.
Seattle U said…
Do you mean like something this? Seattle U Master in Teaching has 50% of time spent in the classroom, starting the second week of the 4-quarter program.
StopTFA said…
I think the UW COE should offer to pay the tuition of its MIT students to transfer and study at SU. Not only does SU sound superior, it doesn't screw its own grad students.
Anonymous said…
The MIT program at UW DOES utilize a combination of classes and practicum (which begins immediately in the 1st quarter). As a student in the program I can tell you that BOTH types of classes are beneficial, and I would not have been prepared for my full-time student teaching without all of the incredible instruction I received from the professors at UW. Time spent in class is not a waste.

In order to promote teaching as a profession, future teachers need to be instructed in a variety of research based and data driven different methods for instruction.

I chose the program at UW for its emphasis on social justice and equitable teaching practices for all children; something I did not see evidence of in other teacher prep programs. Though I wouldn't hate to see a refund at this point in my dealings with Dr. Stritikus, I do feel that I received an education worth every penny that I paid.

I hope that the CoE at UW can pull through this, and somehow find a way to continue the Teacher Education Program... even after TfA has invaded.

Job-hunting Future Teacher
StopTFA said…
new documents on:
NeedsaJob said…
What pains me about this whole situation is that recent graduates from stellar teaching programs like the one found at Seattle University or SPU will most likely go unemployed in the 11-12 school year...and we have master's degrees AND did our student teaching internships in SPS.
dan dempsey said…
Job Hunting Future Teacher wrote:

In order to promote teaching as a profession, future teachers need to be instructed in a variety of research based and data driven different methods for instruction.

... hummm do you think the UW CoE does this?

Odd, in regard to math instruction the UW seems to regularly ignore data. Check out "results" from The UW CoE Math Education Project.

Dr. Stritikus seems to be acutely "data decision" impoverished. Previously I thought Dean Wasley needed a lot of improvement in the data-decision department.

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