PESB Pretty Much a Clone of the Seattle School Board

I attended the School Board meeting last week and the PESB (WA State Professional Educators Standards Board) meeting and, at both, testified about Teach For America.  (The PESB is the agency that "establishes policies and requirements for the preparation and certification of education professionals. "  This includes teacher certification testing and routes as well as alternative certifications.)   I said pretty much the same thing at both meetings.  Namely:
  • TFA has never closed the achievement gap at any school or district where their teachers are placed. While it is a noble goal (and the goal of EVERY school), they haven't done it.  
  • Second, there is NO teacher shortage in Seattle.  In fact, one of the UW College of Education professors stated at a meeting in June that if she were on the Seattle SB she would have voted no to TFA because "there is no teacher shortage in Seattle."
  • Third, this proposal gives a special tuition break to TFAs recruits.  (In fact, this point gets hazier by the minute.  I will have an update on it but the fact that it is unclear exactly what TFA recruits will get means a lack of transparency on the part of UW.)
  • Fourth, no one who would like to become a teacher via UW's program can access it unless they are in TFA.  That makes it a fairly exclusionary program for the overwhelming majority of Washington State residents.   We need to be creating more Washington teachers for Washington state.
  • Dean Stritikus told his Master's students in May that if he had to choose between one of them and a TFA recruit for his own children, he'd choose a Master's student.   There's a ringing endorsement.
  • Also, according to a Seattle Schools document, the TFA recruits would only marginally increase the diversity in the teacher pool and only in two groups.  (In fact I found an error when I was reviewing the chart and it's even lower for Latinos.)  This so-called broadening of the pool is not happening in any huge way.
  • Lastly, what are we giving to the students at these high-poverty, high-minority schools?  Are we giving them the best teachers we have trained?  People who, because of this training, are committed to teaching as a career?  Or do we give them 5-week trained college grads who provide a revolving door of teachers at schools where students need continuity?
The PESB meeting was quite telling.  There were two other institutions seeking approval for new alternative certification programs.  These were UW-Tacoma and Central Washington University.  What was striking about their presentations was that both were quite detailed especially in the specifics of how the program would work.  Both had only a couple of questions from the Board and no public comment on either proposal.

Then we came to UW-Seattle's presentation.  It was a lot of edu-speak that boils down to a lot of on-line classes and guidance from a program director and not a lot of face time with professors.   In contrast with the other presentations, Board members peppered the two presenting UW professors with many questions.  Several of the Board were people of color and they questioned them closely about TFA recruits being culturally prepared to go into high-minority classrooms.

Additionally, just as SEA President Olga Addae had at the Board meeting, one member expressed concern over the mentor teachers.  Olga's point was that the TFA recruits will take a lot more hand-holding than a first-year teacher coming out of UW's Master's program.  She had expressed concern that the need to give TFA recruits more attention might mean less time for other first-year teachers.  The PESB member's point was that it was difficult to get mentor teachers as they are volunteers (who do get paid extra) and how would this be addressed?  The professors had no real answer as this is SPS's job (and naturally SPS pays for it). 

Then there was public comment.  Three of us expressed our concerns against TFA.  (I also pointed out that it was somewhat dismaying to hear one of the professors just sigh and say "We'll just have to see how well this works" as if the students were lab rats.)   Harium Martin-Morris came forward in support of TFA and said he was an SPS SB member but was speaking as an individual.    There was also a couple of TFA alums, someone from LEV and a manager from Federal Way (the other district where TFA will be).

Then they took a motion to pass the proposal.  What was interesting was the woman who put forth the motion said she felt strongly about passage but then lamely said that UW had fulfilled all the requirements and should get approval.

Basically, UW had dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's so they did their job as far as the PESB is concerned.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  There was no talk about the plan itself.

Then several other members, in the discussion, again expressed concerns over how the TFA recruits could be trained in cultural competency in such a short time.  One member said she felt it "in my gut" that this is wrong but she was going to vote yes because UW had done what was asked for in the proposal application.

I have no idea why this member even said anything.  Was it to cover herself later on if the program wasn't working in high-minority schools?  Why, as a member of an oversight board, would you say that you felt deeply that a program was not fleshed out (and could possibly hurt kids) and not vote no?  When would a person vote their conscience?  I was completely perplexed.

Naturally, they all voted yes but I swear during the questioning period for UW's proposal, given the concern expressed in the questions and the number of questions, I thought a few people would vote no. 

So that got done for TFA but as Yogi Berra said, it ain't over until it's over.   There are yet more public disclosure documents that have been received (and they make for fascinating reading) and more in the works.  I'm sure TFA will be in SPS this fall but the whole thing is not going to look good.  This might be one more thing the incumbents in the School Board race might have to explain or defend.


seattle citizen said…
The fix has been in for quite some time now.
Anonymous said…
At this point, I think the most effective counter to TfA in Seattle will be people like Betty Patu and the RBHS community--they know that their children are being targeted to be subjects of an experiment.

They are experimenting on children in poverty--specifically, children of color in poverty. Look at the list of schools they have targeted and have the TfAers tell us otherwise.

This immoral experiment is being used to further a political agenda.
I would like the discourse to reflect the reality--This is a experiment on a vulnerable population, which is nothing new in this country (think Tuskegee Experiment).

--if it were effective, they'd be using it in all neighborhoods
StopTFA said…
Frankly, all the more reason to dump the Fab Four and then dump the TFA MOU. Oh Lordy! what would the UW and TFA do then? The UW is hedging its bets, hiring a program coordinator and TAs (who are doing the teaching BTW) for only nine months - there's job security for ya.

TFA could send its wunderkinds to Quincy where there is a shortage of math-science teachers. They could attend CWU's alt rte 4 program and probably get a better education than at the UW's hallowed halls.
seattle citizen said…
Anon 8:47 (sign or use a user name, anon, they delete without)is absolutely spot-on: There is an experiment to be conducted on our city's students, predominantly students of color and poor students. This experiment will last at least two years, and will be conducted by lab technicians with five weeks training. The experiment has nothing to do with educational benefit to students, and everything to do with cost-savings. Poor children get cheaper people to "instruct" them, while the middle class and wealthier neighborhoods get more expensive, fully qualified certificated teachers.
There are numerous ways to stand against this: Media, transparency, sit-ins, etc. Hopefully, the RB community will invite the citizens of this city to help them fight this, and organize some resistance.

"Let resistance be your motto!"
(Henry Highland Garnet, c 1850)
One interesting thing about the TFA/SPS contract is that either side can end the contract as long as there is at least 120 days left in the school year. That would be just enough time for any new Board members to bring it to a vote and vote the contract out in January.

Now THAT would be interesting.
Josh Hayes said…
I understand the anger, iiwe,tbuiian, but I fail to see how this is any kind of "experiment". An experiment aims to test a hypothesis, but what hypothesis is in play here? That TFA folks are as good as real teachers, based on student test scores?

I think, based on the studies we've been pointed to from this and other blogs, that the results are in on TFA: while the kids are energetic and enthusiastic, they're just not an effective substitute for real teachers. What more is there to "experiment" on?
StopTFA said…
Ah, but the experiment is who can be most edgy and forward thinking! The PESB didn't want to be seen as ole sticks in the mud (now they're just perceived as ineffectual toadies). Plus Dean Narcissist wanted to beat out City U at the glamour hook-up with Kopp and Co.
Anonymous said…
The main hypothesis being tested is whether or not routes to teaching can be successfully reframed.

Since this experiment has not yet proven sucessful, tinkering with variables (currently in the form of alternative certification while teaching--see UW) is occurring as long as lab results are showing that the current TfA approach produces wholly inferior products--i.e. short-term teachers whose students learn less that certificated teachers of the same experience-level.

--in the meantime, the students of color who are living in poverty continue to be the subjects of this experiment
seattle citizen said…
Anon 11:15, I'm copying your comment verbatim (as it might be deleted due to no signature or user name, but also because it is concise and accurate.) Well put, this is one hypothesis being tested: How to best replace a traditional, professional route to a teaching certificate with a route less professional and less dependent on a rich, deep and vibrant curriculum.
As happened at Tuskagee, the experiment is run on the powerless. Syphilis would not be injected into the wealthy, without their permission or knowledge, to test for vaccines: The children of the wealthy will not have poorly trained, non-professional instructors placed before them to see which cheapened, simplified, more "efficient" sort of training works best.

Anon 11:15's comment:
"The main hypothesis being tested is whether or not routes to teaching can be successfully reframed.

Since this experiment has not yet proven sucessful, tinkering with variables (currently in the form of alternative certification while teaching--see UW) is occurring as long as lab results are showing that the current TfA approach produces wholly inferior products--i.e. short-term teachers whose students learn less that certificated teachers of the same experience-level.

--in the meantime, the students of color who are living in poverty continue to be the subjects of this experiment"
seattle citizen said…
I hope that everyone also keeps in mind that while the experimentation is first being done on the poor and minority communities, the systems being experimented with are surely destined to be placed in all public schools: How, once a less-prepared, deprofessionalized version of "teacher" is placed in schools in poverty areas, can it NOT be placed universally? If a system of such disparity is used with the poor, and the wealthier continue to get highly trained, professional teachers, the disparity will be glaring and unavoidable. There would be "ghettoe schools" and "regular schools," and the difference would be apparent. People would talk (right? right?!)
So I posit that once the experimentation finds a "suitable" combination of simplified skills and standards to teach and cheapest way to train warm bodies to teach them, the whole of public education will swing that way, for to maintain the gulf would be cold and heartless.

But then, we don't see a lot of support for poor schools from the wealthier citizens now, do we? Maybe there could be such a thing, a city with the poor schools getting transitory warm bodies in front of the classrooms and the wealthier ones getting real teachers...

I hope not. Let resistance be OUR motto.
Zebra (or Zulu) said…
Imagine a TfA recruit at the building level:

One key element in good teaching practice is collaboration amongst colleagues. SPS, in fact, believes this is so important that it is built into professional development time.

Now imagine for a moment that you are sitting in one of those collaboration meetings, planning coursework and strategy for the year with your well-educated and highly-trained colleagues. Your goals for the year are difficult to achieve and critical to student growth.

What role will the TfA upstart play in those collaboration sessions? But, more importantly, who will be willing to collaborate with this individual?

Three scenarios arise:

1) The TfA recruit will be ignored...after all...he or she is just passing through.

2) The TfA recruit will be treated like a scab and shunned.

3) The TfA recruit will be enjoined in a professional educator love-fest. 'We are so glad you are part of the team.'

Depending on the school, the first two are most likely. As for #3...that will happen the day pigs fly. (Only a fool would collaborate with a scab.)

What say you StopTFA?
StopTFA said…
Zebra, thanks for asking. I'm too stupid to answer but this UW professor (one of the U-ACT coordinators, in fact) sees much the same conundrum, rather in the context of university/TFA collaboration:

Dumping a bunch of highly-privileged college grads...

Real teachers have been asked to work longer and harder for less pay. Their resistance to coddling these demanding and presumptuous upstarts is totally understandable in my view.

"is this going to be on the test?"
"That TFA folks are as good as real teachers, based on student test scores?"

Well, yes, that's what TFA believes. They believe most in their method of direct teaching (intensive study followed by hands on teaching with mentoring). They believe they bring energy and "relentless" focus.

What is the experiment? To see how big they can grow this thing. To see how they can help dismantle the teachers' union (yes I know they are members once they are teachers but I'll be they wouldn't do it if they didn't have to). To prove that ed departments could run leaner and meaner. For UW to do "research" on TFA. It's an endless circle.

Zulu, the party line from SEA is that the TFA recruits will be colleagues and be treated as such. That said, I don't think many teachers will want to (or have) the time to handhold these teachers. TFA recruits have to fly out of the building after school because they have to be working on their certification/master's AND meet with the UW program manager AND meet with their TFA manager.

(This three-part management - SPS, TFA and UW - was a part of the PESB discussion; meaning, how to make sure the TFA recruit doesn't get varying directives and answers to questions.)

I doubt these TFA recruits will be in the school as much as the regular teachers.

I also doubt that regular teachers will take what they have to say with much interest.

But people have good hearts so who knows? But it is good to keep in mind that Seattle is a union town. You don't have to be in the SEA to be in a union.
Stop TFA's post, "is this going to be on the test" is absolutely vital to the question of TFA.

The way the recruits get taught is to strip out things like child development, differentiation, etc. and strip the lesson to the bare bones. What is the goal of the lesson and how can you teach it? They don't want to have to learn a lot of what TFA considers extraneous material. It is a direct challenge to teaching institutions.

They may be right on some points but this stripping away leaves you with a teacher with a narrow (but "relentless") focus.
Anonymous said…
Hey of course TFA gotta be in my poor schools. HELLO, if it fails then they can say well it is because of the high FRLand ESL demographics, the lack of parental support, the crime in hi poverty areas, blah, blah, blah.... In fact ed reformers are already coming up with the same excuses they blamed previous ed reformers for using ( we can't fix education until we fix societal social and racial inequity).

-Watch for it, it's all theater ( or WV theardia)
Zebra (or Zulu) said…
Melissa...I agree that the SEA party-line is that TfA will be treated with respect as colleagues. I will add that this is because the SEA has its marching orders from the WEA and NEA, both of which have given the nod to many unsavory pre-privitization reforms.

I can also speak with confidence and firsthand knowledge that many of SEA members find the whole TfA thing gross. Olga's days are numbered if TfA gets a strong (or any) foothold in the District. This is the last straw on her camel.
Anonymous said…
So how are these new TFA recruits supposed to deliver the new differentiated curriculum if they are not getting the training for it? Isn't differentiation supposed to solve a myriad of issues, from capacity management to inclusive classrooms?

My question has a sarcastic bent, but I am actually quite curious as to what the official line is on this. Either classroom teachers deliver intense, narrow focus material, or wide-ranging, semi-individualized material. It is simply impossible to do both.

New to SPS
seattle citizen said…
New to SPS, the paradox you present (how to differentiate whilst teaching a narrow focus) is just one of the many strange dichotomies presented by the Reform movement. Another is the collision between their call for "quality teachers in every classroom" and this hiring of five-week-wonders via TFA.
"Curiouser and curiouser, said the rabbit..."
Anonymous said…
So are they claiming that in five weeks, they can train teachers to simultaneously deliver intense, narrowly focused, yet differentiated curriculum to a large classroom? Really?
Anonymous said…
I believe Lawton and Wedgewood can use these TFAs with well differentiated and yet laser like teaching skills. These school principals with their social justice bent should get first dibs, interview, and by all means hire these TFA folks. Send the experienced and competent Lawton and Wedgewood teachers down to my valley instead.

- equal access to TFAs
seattle citizen said…
Pretty much, Anon 2:37. Five weeks in a summer, then follow-up "training" or whatever AS THE TFA PERSON TEACHES.(Oh, and aforementioned "mentoring" that fully certified teachers will no doubt be providing these five-week-wonders)
As opposed to the typical teaching college program, which is a year, then a quarter or so of student teaching, then (often) a masters thesis or project, THEN into the classroom with a full certificate.
The way TFA sells these people, given that they have little training is through two oft-repeated statements:
1) They can bridge the achievement gap! Singlehandedly! (or at least better than those ol' nasty certs);
2) They are young, shiny, energetic, and THEY COME FROM THE BEST COLLEGES! (As opposed to those creaky, cranky certs, who graduated from Whattsamatta U or something.

What a con their game really is...
seattle citizen said…
TFA is really paternalistic, very old-school colonial, when you look at their schtick: Our caring and concerned inheritors of Western wealth and privilege, from the staid bastions at the seat of the Empire, will deign to stop by the Ghetto for a year or two and pass onto those poor minority kids all the skills they need to...become good workers.

There was an Episcopal priest crossing the western mountains to start a mission back in the 1870s. He wrote, "While the [Native Americans] will never reach my level, I will do my best to make good farmers of them."

It's like that. TFA deigns to send "the brightest" to the ghettoes to narrowly instruct poor children in just Math and Reading, tests in just those narrowed subjects, and calls it good enough. As if that education is as rich and deep as the education provided "the brightest." How freakin' paternalistic.
Anonymous said…
it takes a few years for collaboration to really start working for a teacher - in your first few years the best thing you can have is highly scripted stuff which you, obviously, adjust as you need to - but at least the formula & the recipe gives you some life raft to cling to as all your grand ideas dissolve in a puff of smoke, a whiff of desperation, and a blast of indifferent and antsy youngsters.
it takes a few years for collaboration with other teachers to start to work because our collaboration consists of fast conversations running to the bathroom or waiting in the copy room or dashing up the stairs or running down the hall - we're not in some ivy'd halls introspecting and reflecting and ruminating and cogitating - we're running, running and running. it takes a few years to figure out who has which strengths and how their interests and strengths compliment my 5000 weaknesses and inadequacies -
there are people in my building who I don't see for 4 or 9 weeks at a time because we're tooooooooooo busy.
my concern for the kids in my school will out weigh my disgust with the kopp-kipp kryme syndicate - and by the time I remember the name of the 5 week wonder, they'll be off to wall street ??

What's worse is that people, including the UW professors, have bought into it.

One of the professors, Cap Peck, has repeatedly said the following:

1) that all people don't learn the same way. This is true but his point is that UW can teach different people different ways to be teachers. Okay, but almost no one is going to say 5 weeks AND earning your certification while you work the job you are getting the certification for is optimal.

2) he told the PESB that these students are exceptionally bright and probably learn faster than other students. Basically, the best and the brightest which is pretty much an insult to already accredited teachers as well as those going thru the UW Master's program.
New to SPS said…
But haven't we been told that K-12 students can all learn from the same curriculum at the same speed, and that with very rare exceptions there is not really a special cohort that learns faster? Isn't that why Spectrum is being spread out into all classrooms?

So how is it that these TFA students are somehow different once they grow up? What magic happens then between elementary school and college such that these TFA students need their own Spectrum-style program at UW?

New to SPS

New to SPS
Charlie Mas said…
I really don't understand these boards that don't want to do their jobs.
dan dempsey said…
YUP... SPS and PESB are clones of each other in that they unquestioningly approve what UW tells them. We all know the the SPS Board approves anything that they are told as long as the Superintendent recommends it.

Four new SPS Board members in November and stopping TfA with a January vote sounds like a great idea and here is why....

Simply put the UW, the PESB, and the SPS have either accidentally violated state law and the constitutional rights of many students.... or conspired to push this approval forward. .... So what do all those who testified for TfA UW-Seattle have to say about the law? ..Oh yes I forgot this is about Education in Seattle where laws do not matter, because pushing "Ed Reform" forward trumps existing state laws and the constitution.

The WAC governing Limited certificates (WAC 181-79A-231) contains the following:

"The professional educator standards board encourages in all cases the hiring of fully certificated individuals and understands that districts will employ individuals with conditional certificates only after careful review of all other options. "

It is time for the SPS to face the facts .... a careful review of options to close achievement gaps in the SPS has never been undertaken.

In this application the SPS Board by making the application ... made a bogus claim that a careful review of all other options to narrow achievement Gaps had been made... this is complete and total BS.

The SPS has done the exact opposite of what is needed... approving misguided selections of materials and practices produced pathetic results and widen the achievement gaps. In fact the UW "help" (??) made things even worse

The UW has assisted in the creation of the ridiculous math debacle over the last several years..

Next move should be to require each of the four directors running for reelection to disclose ... when "the careful review of options to close achievement gaps" took place and to list what was learned.

As each of these four directors approved the TfA application back in November of 2010 ... it should be easy for them to tell us... unless they were lying to the public.


Josh is right....

This is not an experiment ... like a lot of UW math actions ... this will be a disaster rerun.
dan dempsey said…
Charlie said:

"I really don't understand these boards that don't want to do their jobs."

Well the interesting thing is that a lot of members of state boards are NOT elected... they are appointed.

So now we know why they are appointed. .. Appointed because they are expected not to do the job required.


The State Board of Education Math Advisory Panel no longer meets .... (is that because it came up with wrong answers?) ... Oh I forgot there was no money for an all volunteer panel to continue meeting.... well certainly no money for a panel that questioned OSPI math actions and the UW.
seattle citizen said…
"...a lot of members of state boards are NOT elected... they are appointed. So now we know why they are appointed...Appointed because they are expected not to do the job required."

Or worse, the job they were appointed to do was to git that Reform in there.

The fix is in.
peonypower said…
one phrase for those on the ground" get on the hiring committee and watch what comes in over the transom."
Sahila said…
If you want to get involved in some push back, consider participating in events being held on July 30th...

save our schools march DC

and closer to home:
Washington Save Our Schools
Sahila said…
Save Our Schools events around the country:

SOS info state and regional
Zebra (or Zulu) said…
TfA is just a small part of a much larger agenda.

The stuff about the Washington State takeover will make you ill.
dan dempsey said…
Zulu Zebra,

Oh yes ... it makes me plenty ill.

It is certainly imperative that all four directors up for reelection be defeated. Can knowledge trump big money campaign dollars in a school board election?

If not, we can finally be assured that the public schools are no longer operating in a Republic.
Anonymous said…
It's not just the four up for re-election:

Michael DeBell and Kay Smith Blum are on the bandwagon for TfA.

Susan Enfield has championed TfA.

--keep them all accountable
Cap'n Billy Keg said…
"...cohort..." ...a definition...

"In Caesar's Gallic War a cohort was a unit of soldiers. There were 6 centuries (100 men) to a cohort, 10 cohorts to a legion (therefore 6,000 men).

A century, then, would correspond to a company, a cohort to a battalion, and a legion to a regiment.

Because of the word's history, some critics insist that cohort should be used only to refer to a group of people and never to an individual.

In recent years, however, the use of cohort to refer to an individual rather than a group has become very common and is now in fact the dominant usage.

Seventy-one percent of the "Usage Panel" accepts the sentence: 'The cashiered dictator and his cohorts have all written their memoirs', while only 43 percent accepts: 'The gangster walked into the room surrounded by his cohort.'

Perhaps because of its original military meaning and paramilitary associations, cohort usually has a somewhat negative connotation, and therefore critics of the President rather than his supporters might use a phrase like the President and his cohorts."

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition Copyright © 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
AG said…
New to SPS, your obsevation about the kind of program the TFA-ers are asking for and who those people are is spot-on. I participated in a TFA-like program in 1995 (Breakthrough Collaborative) and went back to school in the fall ready to add a teaching certificate on to my degree but had the same reaction to my intro classes as the TFA-ers did. The college of education courses were being taught as though the students themselves were in K-12. The intro content consisted of reading the state standards and regurgitating what I read, not crtically assessing them or delving into why they were what they were. It was awful and this was at a top 25 school!

Traditional certification programs have their place, but if we really want to attract the best and brightest to teaching as they do in Norway (and that means the APP and Spectrum students of today), there need to be some fundamental changes to the content delivery mechanisms in colleges of education. I felt infantilized, like the instructors were condescending and was amazed at the other students sitting there like sheep.

I totally get why the traditional college of ed students offered one positive, then a neg, then a positive comment to end their remarks. That kind of uncritical, please everyone and hurt no feelings approach was modeled by the professors every day. I suppose that works well with most K-12 students in the clasroom but not so much with high-achieving gifted students who learn to expect and require a challenge. That need doesn't change when you graduate high school.
Anonymous said…
"That kind of uncritical, please everyone and hurt no feelings approach was modeled by the professors every day. I suppose that works well with most K-12 students in the clasroom but not so much with high-achieving gifted students who learn to expect and require a challenge."

Actually, any kid (regardless of their abilities) with a little common sense can spot bullshit for what it is faster than most well educated adults. Which is why false praise is meaningless to kids who know their worth and how much work they put in (or not) in their learning. True confidence comes when you know you've earned it.

*your average tiger mom
AG said…
Tiger Mom - agreed. I do think kids in high-cap programs are more likely to be encouraged to express those critical assessments than those in gen ed. classes though (to the detriment of all).

I just found funny reading the comments from the above link b/c I could see myself saying the same things with the same snark at that point in my life.

I don't think TFA teachers get enough effective training before taking over a classroom of kids with challenges but agree wholeheartedly with their assessment of the training options currently available. Modyfying the typical teacher training program, even condensing it, is not enough and I'm at least glad to see the folks at UW recognize that.
Anonymous said…
As someone who's read what the UW profs say in private (before public disclosure) versus the drivel they spout in public, and as someone who would have no trouble sparring with the "best and brightest" in my time, I say it is plainly obvious that those who have no clue would have no clue WTH it is they know, should know and don't know, but are glib enough never to admit it.

Mr. Ed
Anonymous said…
The way to get the best and brightest teachers is to value teachers. Sending out short-timers with a carrot waiting at Goldman Sachs (aka TFA)continues to keep the teaching profession in its low place on the pecking order.

Finland values teachers and that is why they get the best and brightest. I went through Mr. Rogers hell and got my certificate the traditional way. It was the experience with the veteran teacher during my internship that separated me from the TFAers. The work in the classrooms prior to teaching, with an experienced master teacher, is the ticket. TFA skips the real essential step entirely.

By the way, some of the best teachers I have ever met or known were not the best students (or in what Seattle pretends are gifted programs), in the traditional sense, because they are able to think beyond the program and approach learning from all the different perspectives a room full of real children bring.

--experimenting on children of color in poverty is immoral
Jan said…
I want to second somthing that "experimenting on children of color in poverty is immoral" touched on -- and that is the fallacious assumption that high iq "automatically" correlates with "the best in teaching." Two of the most brilliant teachers (in terms of IQ) I or my kids ever had were not good AT ALL when it came to teaching kids who didn't respond to their "brilliant" teaching style. I don't think they "got" teaching at all -- when it came to kids who were slower, kids who might have been unmotivated(and in need of help in that regard), kids who had learning disabilities, etc. They sort of "laid out the spread" -- their style. If you were smart/verbal/lucky enough to "get it," they were great. If you weren't, too bad for you! You got a terrible grade, and didn't learn very much. My observation (in hindsight) is that neither of them had much passion for identifying struggling students, differentiating instruction, closing achievement gaps, etc. Not because they weren't smart enough. It just wasn't part of their mission.

I am no fan of TfA -- I think they are dishonest (in terms of what they are really doing -- they are really an "educational policy leadership" organization -- with a pro-charter, anti-union, anti-colleges of education bent. I am astounded that they get all this federal grant money, and "placement" fees from districts, and commitments from districts to "mentor" their recruits -- at the expense of student time -- all to provide a pretty "blah" product -- (in terms of teaching at least -- it may be a GREAT product in terms of the politically motivated, ed reform leaders that they want).

I am beyond "fed up" with schools boards, faux "community" leaders, and political hacks, both left and right, who pander to them and spread their pr around.

Obviously, we want "smart" people to go into teaching. But teaching is a profesiion, like nursing, medicine, etc. The BEST professionals in it also have a calling -- to help EVERY child in their classes reach his/her greatest potential. They mentor and inspire kids. They collaborate like crazy. They innovate constantly, as new materials and technology become available.

But I don't think that Finland gets "the best and the brightest" only because it "values teachers." I think it gets the best teachers (whether they are the brightest or not) because it values great teaching. In a truly professional environment, where outstanding teaching is both expected and valued -- folks like the two teachers I mentioned above either develop the passion and the skills to teach ALL their kids -- or they leave, because lazy "teaching to the best and ignoring the rest" is just not tolerated, any more than hospitals would tolerate nurses or doctors who ignored the patients whose conditions they didn't like and feel like treating.
StopTFA said…
I feel safe is asserting that your average everyday teacher has more integrity and "balls" than these regulatory hacks who, more so than our ridiculous board members, bow and scrape before what staff tells them they "must" do.

Yeah, the fix was in. Do they realize that there are many who are content with letting lazy sleeping dogs lie? Apparently. I would hope those that exhibited a touch of conscience, are relieved to have an excuse to bow the hell out of this charade and get back to real efforts to expertly teach children.

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