A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tuesday Musing Open Thread 1: TFA

For your consideration: In the long term, what effect has Teach For America had on public schools? What effect do teachers from this program have upon a school while they are on staff? What effects have TFA alumni had upon education policy? Are these effects good or deleterious?

Not having had much contact with people in this program, I would appreciate some feedback. I may start this as a regular feature of my blog as a part of my own edification.

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At 7/20/10, 5:37 PM, Anonymous ExurbanMom said...

I just read an interesting take on TFA from the blogger called "Tenured Radical."


I don't have enough first hand knowledge of the program to comment, but I generally react negatively to anything that uses students as guinea pigs....

At 7/20/10, 6:05 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Whoa, that post makes some sharp points! Thanks so much for sharing that link!

At 7/20/10, 6:32 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Oh, and read the comment thread, too....

At 7/20/10, 6:32 PM, Blogger Ms. George said...

Well, I've met some really nice TFA-ers and some really shallow ones.
* I like recruiting teachers for hard to serve districts/schools, but I'd like to see more admins held accountable for their schools and some real changes in this testing mania that seems to doom too many urban schools.
* I don't like the way it is assumed (by TFA or by people who speak for them) that these Ivy or other Elite grads are somewhat 'better' than teachers coming out of state or other traditional schools.
*I would like to see TFA change its requirements and insist upon 5 or 10 year commitments from its recruits. I wonder if they'd have as many, but you know, good teachers rarely hit their strides until the 3rd, 4th, or 5th year. Why doom the underperforming schools to a rotating crop of teachers who are only there to 'pad a resume' or 'fulfill the contract' before moving on? Why not get them to make the commitment to stay? Perhaps it is because they burn themselves out after two years. As a parent, I would not want a teacher that is only there for a year or two. I want an experienced teacher, or at least one who plans on teaching as a career, not a 'stepping stone' to something else.
I know that I am a much better teacher today than I was 8 years ago, and I thought/ was told I was pretty good then.

At 7/20/10, 7:20 PM, Blogger Amerloc said...

I think TFA is a clever way to return to the day when "veteran" and "teacher" were mutually-exclusive terms, and is generally reflective of a widely-held belief that we teach* because we can't do anything better.

These kids come to the classroom on their ways to somethings else, just as my grandmother taught until she got married. I don't care how bright they are, how well-schooled they might be, or even how effective they are: they're gone tomorrow.

Rolling the dice is not an efficient use of limited resources.

*in my case, "taught." My teaching anymore is limited to insisting that the grandkids bait their own hooks.

At 7/21/10, 2:45 AM, Blogger Cheryl said...

Here's an excellent blog post that really says it all, comparing TFA to what would happen if we did the same thing with doctors. Makes you think, and I sure can't say it any better.


At 7/22/10, 8:21 AM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

That was also a very sharp critique. And a very interesting thought-experiment. But teacher haters of course would pooh-pooh it, since they can't claim that doctors are unimportant while their entire premise is based upon the idea that teachers are exactly that-- unless we want to find a scapegoat for the problems in education.


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