« One Journalist's Guilt About Not Paying for the Journalism She Consumes | Main | Paging Rand Paul: Do Disabled Kids Belong in Homeless Shelters? »

October 25, 2010

Comments

I'll never forget when I sat down with the TFA recruiter on my campus and he told me that the position would help me get a corporate job once I had completed my two years. I'm not sure how widespread this is, but for me, at least, the organization seemed to advertise itself as a means to some other, more lucrative or prestigious end. I found it pretty sickening.

>

The real ed reform question is, "What can public schools do to attract and retain top talent?"

A quick plug:

If you are serious in your interest to become a teacher and affect long term change, the Teacher Education Program at UCLA is recruiting right now. Two year credential and master's working in the most difficult schools in Los Angeles.

http://uclatep.org

Over the summer I was getting physical therapy for my ankle. My PT was a graduate of Villanova and in our discussions about education she told me that the only reason students she knew at Villanova applied to TFA was so it would look good on their applications for law school. I think TFA'ers are the worse people alive.

Josh, long term change? Not for an Ivy Leaguer.

Joshua it is a stereotype that the schools or students are "difficult." They are for the most part normal everyday kids who haven't had the breadth of experiences that middle class kids get. The problem that I have with programs like TEP is that they tend to look down on veteran teachers. Veterans teachers are what is holding LAUSD together right now and we are being villified- sometimes within teacher credentialing programs

I have worked with many TFA teachers over the years. Whenever the year began to draw to a close the subject of summer school inevitably came up. I *always* worked it because I needed the money. The TFAs, at least the new ones, usually didn't. I got the impression that most of them didn't need the money, and between grad classes, teaching and the additional TFA meetings/obligations, most of them were fried and really needed the summer. I wonder how many of them will pursue this, and if they do, will the lack of any kind of real break impact their performance in the second year (which, in my case and likely others, wasn't much easier than the first!)

read ONE DAY, ALL CHILDREN and you will see that Wendy Kopp is pretty straight forward about TFA's relationship with corporate America. This isn't a secret. It's strategy. Read up. Think about it. Make change. (And check out the stats of TFAers that DO STAY IN THE CLASSROOM after their commitment, or in some way continue in the education field... then speak). Now, some responses... and this is going to be jumbled because I've been in a classroom since early this morning and will be lesson planning and working most of tonight. :)

(1) Wow. Holy overgeneralization, batman! First, Ivy League TFA'ers don't need the special spots to score GS internships. So, the association of GS internships and Ivy Leaguers gaming the system can stop there.
(2) Are there people that join TFA for nebulously dissatisfactory reasons? Sure. But: (i) those people would be the same people trying to win GS jobs with or without TFA. (ii) TFA fosters deep changes in the mindsets of its corps members, substantively altering the life trajectories of those GS people. Think about it like this: if the game and the players in the financial sector aren't going to be destroyed, how do you reform these institutions and shape their use of power within society?-- have your people running the ship. So, if you think that the financial sector needs a moral gut check, you should probably be all the more for TFA'ers in these positions.

(3) Now, does that mean that TFA should be less vigilant against the "wrongly motivated"? No. TFA should be all the more vigilant that applicants are aligned with its core values and mission. If you have ever had anything to do with TFA, you know that its lower and middle structural organization is aligned with the mission of closing the achievement gap, however humanly imperfect its mission and/or execution might be.

Take aways: Liberals, stop being so easily side tracked by what looks like moral imperfection, when in reality, its what real change looks like-- that is, getting your hands into multiple sectors and creating change through leveraging power and playing the game, but changing it at the same time.


peace.

If you have ever had anything to do with TFA, you know that its lower and middle structural organization is aligned with the mission of closing the achievement gap, however humanly imperfect its mission and/or execution might be.

I have had quite a lot to do with TFA, so I think that it is fair to say that its corps members and staff have good intentions.

However, I also know that TFA originally intended to exit districts that no longer had a shortage of qualified teachers. My district has no such shortage; TFA is active in seeking more MOUs. It is a problem that teachers who no longer count as "highly qualified" in my state are being placed ahead of fully-credentialed teachers.

I also wonder about the limited cultural competence of Teach for Americans, and their ultimate impact on high-needs schools. Studies show: relationships matter. Two years will not build the ties that families with long histories of poor treatment in education systems need. And TFA's language - they seem unwilling to accept the presence of an OPPORTUNITY gap over an ACHIEVEMENT gap - does nothing to assuage my concerns.

And as to your final point, the idea that change requires insiders reforming is just that - an idea. Please do not patronize those who do not share your opinion.

@Txteacher

What TFA offers is a quick-fix, band-aid approach that ignores more fundamental problems, such as inequitable funding, retention of long-term teachers, lack of incentives to stay in school because it is not rewarded in the job market, violence and poverty in communities, an evaluation system that doesn't focus on real learning etc. Research shows that these are all causes that lead to educational inequity and the achievement gap. Even if TFA does "deeply change" the mindsets of people, it is telling them that all it takes is bright people and a quick fix to solve deep social problems. Putting the issue of motivation aside, the whole TFA model is flawed because it doesn't address these problems. It is a huge red flag when an organization has existed for so many years with hardly any changes to it's program strategy. As someone in the field of social entrepreneurship and education reform, I know from experience that most organizations that are reflective and self-critical tend to have programs that evolve in order to delve deeper, not just mushroom in size.

The way TFA calculates the number of people working in the field of education leads to overestimation because it includes all kinds of positions that are only related to education very indirectly.

Finally, I want to say that TFA is expanding globally in a very irresponsible way. I witnessed their expansion to one country. The person responsible for the expansion knew nothing about the country or its educational system, and made decisions to start a program there very quickly without thorough investigation. This once again reflects the mentality that "bright" people can fix a problem without any thoughtful understanding of the problem and its causes.

The comments to this entry are closed.