Originally posted at Great Schools for America

While I don't support Teach for America, I do support a professional teacher in every classroom. Teach for America has the jobs locked up. Teachers can't get the jobs if they don't apply for them.  That makes Teach for America a great place to #Occupy!

If you are unemployed, listen up.  If you are a college graduate, this may be a lead for you -- especially if you are a teacher.  Apply to Teach for America.

First let me say that I am not a fan of Teach for America, quite the opposite.  I am not promoting the insidious organization that has done so much damage to children and the teaching profession.  But, I do believe it is an organization worthy of occupying.  It is a totally artificial construct of the 1% that enjoys the support of the President, both political parties and this country's richest citizens. Its function is to bash teachers, destroy teaching as a profession, and supply Ivy Leaguers with temporary teaching jobs on their way to real careers. While they are a despicable group, they do have the jobs. I'm proposing that professional teachers apply for those jobs because all children deserve a professional teacher.  Extraordinary situations call for extraordinary measures. Teach for America presents a perfect opportunity for #Occupy to protest.  I'm sure TFA will think of any and all reasons to disqualify professionals in favor of their chosen ones.  Discrimination could give us legal grounds to stop their destructive practices.  But first we must apply.  We must have standing. If you are skeptical about my motives, don't be.  I have been a vocal critic of Teach for America for years -- some examples here, here, here, and here.

For the past twenty years, TFA has been a jobs program for the elite. Teach for America is a temp service for mostly Ivy Leaguers who have been unable to find a job in their own field after graduation.  In this economy, business is booming.  But, this year there is a major change. In past years, TFA has discriminated against teachers and older adults. This year, most likely because of a $50 million grant from the DOE, TFA eligibility requirements have changed.

#Occupy Teach for America!

This year for the first time, Teach for America is accepting applications from teachers. That combined with TFA's nondiscrimination policy make this the year for older adults and teachers to apply!  

Teach For America is committed to a policy of equal treatment and opportunity in every aspect of its relations with its applicants, corps members, and staff members, without regard to race, color, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, marital status, military status, pregnancy, or parenthood.

#Occupy Teach for America!

Wait!  Wait! Is this the same Teach for America that hires only recent college graduates who have no teaching credentials to staff the schools of poor African-American and Latino children, doing great harm to them in the process?  Yes. That's the one. Join me below as I explain how you may play a part in changing all that.

#Occupy Teach for America!

January 6th is the deadline for this roundup. February 10th,  2012 is the final deadline for the 2012-2013 school year. If you have an earnest interest in becoming a teacher, please apply. Do it now.

#Occupy Teach for America!

Here's the catch -- if you really are a teacher or want to pursue a teaching career, you must convince your TFA interviewer that you want to be an education entrepreneur after your two stint as a teacher is up.  They need to keep re-filling slots to maintain their viability, so it's two years and out.  Be convincing. You can always "change your mind" to stay in teaching later.

#Occupy Teach for America!

I had my first TFA interview last week. When I asked for pointers on how to advance to the next stage, I was told not to dwell on my teaching credentials -- if I wanted to, fine -- but I should stress my ideas about the type of leadership position I wanted to pursue after my two years were up. The chatter will be all about what you want to do in the future, I was told.

This shouldn't surprise anyone, in a Wall Street Journal puff piece, Wendy Kopp, who has always said that TFA isn't about teaching but leadership, had this to say:

Ms. Kopp says that her program is "not meant to solve the teacher shortage or the teacher quality problem." Rather, she says, "it's a leadership initiative to fuel the larger movement to eliminate educational inequity by enlisting our country's future leaders in the effort.

Kopp also stated:

Two-thirds of TFA alumni are working full time in education, including 450 principals and school superintendents. Another 500 work in government and policy. Then there are the alumni who are now business leaders supporting TFA.

TFA recruits land positions as charter school principals and superintendents making over $100,000 a year after spending only a couple of years in the classroom -- not bad for having neither education credentials nor adequate experience to do the job. It's an entitlement program for the elite paid for largely by our tax dollars.  

#Occupy Teach for America!

The truth is that Teach for America recruits -- young,  untrained, inexperienced novices-- harm children and cost school districts millions.  According to research by Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice,  students of novice Teach for America teachers perform significantly less well in reading and math than those of credentialed beginning teachers. Also, TFA recruits average a recurring cost of $70,000 each to school districts.

#Occupy Teach for America!

If TFA is required to accept applications from credentialed teachers or those who want to actually pursue a teaching career, as they seem to be this year, both students and school districts could benefit.  TFA must hire some of us; to do otherwise would be discrimination. So, even though the TFA practice of charging school districts a ridiculously high recruiting fee is abhorrent, it might be worth it if the process actually resulted in the hiring of professionals who want to stay in challenging schools.  

#Occupy Teach for America!

TFA has exclusive contracts with school districts in 43 regions to staff 6,000 positions across the nation. Professional teachers, applying through the traditional process, are not allowed to compete for those jobs. So, go for it! It's a job! Fill out that application. It can't hurt, and it might make all the difference in the education of our country's neediest children.

 #Occupy Teach for America!



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