If you are truly interested in becoming a teacher, go to college and major in education! Earn your certification. Become a regular teacher.
If you have a four year degree, can’t find a job in your field, and need a paycheck, apply directly to a needy school district, pass a test, and save us all a little money. Be given your certification. Become a fake teacher. Under No Child Left Behind, it’s that simple.
If you are a chump who has bought into the Teach for America (TFA) mantra, chanting that you are the “best and the brightest,” certainly more qualified than any education major who has spent the past four years preparing for a teaching career, then join Teach for America. To find out why you deserve the title of Most Arrogant Chump in the World, please join me below the fold.
Relentless Pursuit is a book by Donna Foote, a journalist without education background or expertise. "Relentless pursuit" is the term that, according to someone who knows her, best describes Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America. Relentless pursuit of what, the quoted failed to say.
When twenty-two year old Wendy Kopp applied for a job upon graduation to Morgan Stanley, McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, Proctor & Gamble, and a real estate venturer, she was turned down by every single one of them. When she sent her idea for a teaching corps to the White House for consideration, her proposal was mistaken for a job application, and she was rejected there as well.
If only one of those employers had given her a job, then maybe the national discussion about improving public education in this country could have some real merit. I can't imagine the cockiness of an arrogant 22-year-old Kopp having the audacity to say she thought lousy teachers were the reason for the achievement gap and because she said it, it must be so. Further, she bragged that she, with no education background to her credit, could produce quality teachers in only five weeks. So, her plan was to create a teacher corps from other students who, like her, couldn't find jobs in their own fields. So far, it's working. How can that be? (Well, aside from the fact that we have massive unemployment. I surmise that few if any of Kopp's recruits would have signed on to Teach for America if they had found employment in their own field.)
From the very beginning, Kopp believed that in order to make teaching attractive to her peers . . . there had to be an "aura of status and selectivity" around Teach for America. High-achieving college students like Kopp viewed teaching as a downwardly mobile career. Those who didn't go directly to graduate school after graduation tended to head for investment banks or marketing firms. To most, becoming a schoolteacher was unthinkable.
Unthinkable! Intelligent, high achieving college students never choose education as a career. Oh, my, no!
. . . research revealed that ten years on, TFA was regarded as a grassrootsy, do-gooder organization. To meet its expansion goals, the organization needed to better articulate the power of the TFA experience and reposition itself as smart, serious, and purposeful--an important alternative to Goldman Sachs or grad school.
TFA was never a grassroots organization. From the beginning it has been financed and promoted by the rich and powerful who would would love nothing more than to privatize America's schools. So, Wendy set out on a fundraising tour and was able to convince people with power and money that her teacher corps was the saving grace of our education woes. Snake oil.
And it began to appreciate the importance of synergy between the public and private sectors. . . During his (2000) campaign, George W. Bush had flown Kopp cross-country on his plane to discuss Teach for America. When he took office in 2001, he named (TFA supporter) Ron Paige, superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, secretary of education.
George W. Bush thinks Teach for America is great. Need I say more? And . . .
In 2002 its first national corporate sponsorship fell into its lap when Wachovia Corporation approached TFA to partner up. National corporate partnerships with Lehman Brothers and Amgen followed. By the end of 2005, fiscal year, operating revenue had grown from $10 million in 2000 to $40 million.
Really, a major corporation like Wachovia approaches a tiny, barely known nonprofit to partner up? In what kind of alternate universe does that happen? What does Wendy Kopp do with this extraordinary amount of education dollars besides paying herself a big fat salary? It's hard to say. The financial data page at the TFA web site isn't operating now and hasn't been since I've been checking in. But, here's what it will cost if you, a fake teacher wannabe, if you, a way more qualified -- better, brighter, prettier, sexier, (provide your own outstanding quality) -- candidate than a regular teacher, decide to join Teach for America.
It costs TFA $12,500 a year to select and train each recruit. The district picked up $3,000 of that. With improvements to the program, the costs kept rising. In 2007 the tab was $14,000 per recruit. By 2010, TFA expected it to cost $20,000 to select and train a corps member.
Yes, as of this minute, it costs the school at least $3,000 more money to hire a fake teacher with five weeks of TFA training than it does to hire a properly trained regular teacher who has made education a career choice and will be teaching after two years. TFA teachers also receive a $5,000 bonus at the end of each of their two teaching years. I couldn't find out who pays for that, TFA or the school district? Fake teachers get an extra $10,000 after teaching two years; regular teachers get nothing. Hmmm, sounds fair -- can't see any reason for animosity there. By the way, $20,000 will pay quite a lot of tuition at many colleges and universities for real education.
Why has Wendy Kopp made it her personal agenda to malign public school teachers? Why have so many influential people bought into her egomaniacal tripe? You don't hear of anyone offering to accept an injection from Nurse for America or to jump into a plane with Pilot for America, right? Yet, it seems that we are more than willing to hand over our children daily to those who function little better than babysitters because they have no knowledge in their core subject area and no training on how best to deliver instruction.
In Phi Delta Kappan, Linda Darling-Hammond, a regular teacher and esteemed professor of both Columbia and Stanford, published her startling analysis of TFA, Who Will Speak for the Children? How TFA Hurts Urban School and Students.
It is clear from the evidence, that TFA is bad policy and bad education. It is bad for the recruits because they are ill-prepared . . . It is bad for the schools in which they teach because the recruits often create staffing disruptions and drains on school resources . . . It is bad for children because they often poorly taught . . . Finally, TFA is bad for teaching. By clinging to faulty assumptions about what teachers need to know and by producing so many teaching failures, it undermines the profession's efforts to raise standards and create accountability.
Teach for America hurts America.
So, back to my original proposition. If you really want to teach, find an excellent school of education and do the work. It isn't easy, but if you love learning and children and life, it can be rewarding.
If you just graduated and can't find a job -- there are so many of you this year -- and you need a paycheck, bypass TFA and go straight to an ailing school district to apply. You can find them on the TFA web site or do your own research. Districts have already pink-slipped last year's batch of "teachers-who-would-have-become-tenured" and are waiting for you with open arms. You provide the never-ending stream of fresh meat required to feed the slashed-to-the-bare-bones bottom line school districts now must toe. Good thing you only want to stay two years. Don't worry, you'll also be exempt from wearing that I'm TFA and so much better than all you suckers who majored in education chip on your shoulder. You'll seem just like any other new teacher. Also, you won't be required to endure the scrutiny of TFA staff who know little to nothing about education yet will show up regularly to observe and evaluate you. TFA higher-ups will not be able to extort exorbitant amounts of money from you for teaching you to teach, which is something they are not qualified to do. And finally, TFA will not be able to engage your pimping services later to recruit yet another batch of corps members eager to become fake teachers.
Or, join teach for America. Pay dearly to become a fake teacher. Chump.
Be an arrogant chump. Don't be any arrogant chump. You be the decider. I prefer you choose the latter because if I'm required to give away my profession, and NCLB says I am, gifting it to you, "the best and brightest outside of education," is much less painful than serving it up to Wendy Kopp on a silver platter. Why should she get the credit you deserve?
Does our education system need improvement? Yes, it does. But, Wendy Kopp's Teach for America is not the answer.