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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.  

Originally posted to annie em on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 04:57 PM PDT.


Which of one these "professionals" would you trust your children to after only five weeks of training?

21%56 votes
1%5 votes
8%23 votes
18%48 votes
1%4 votes
10%28 votes
37%98 votes

| 262 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for regular teachers. Thanks. (16+ / 0-)

    "My speech is not for sale at any price."

    by annie em on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 04:58:38 PM PDT

    •  Confirms My First Reaction To All These Scams (8+ / 0-)

      that boil down to dumping disoriented wannabes into professional settings.

      Of course, I've lived with teachers for 50 years. What would I know?

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 05:09:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What is disturbing is that (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sfgb, luckylizard, elropsych

        these lunatics have the President's ear.

        "My speech is not for sale at any price."

        by annie em on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 05:15:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  She is not a lunatic. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          theran, dufffbeer, Kevskos

          This program has been around since the Clinton administration.  There are problems with it.  The young, idealistic graduates do not get a ton of training and they are placed in very difficult schools; however, it is a progressive program.    They are not taking the place of other teachers.  They are going to schools in Appalachia or the inner city.  My friend was fluent in Spanish, she taught 2nd grade and rarely spoke English.  She fell in love with it and went back to graduate school to become a prinicipal.  

          •  They do take the jobs of regular (5+ / 0-)

            teachers.  Right now school districts across the country are laying off perfectly good teachers to hire cheaper ones with no experience.  That's what NCLB is all about.

            "My speech is not for sale at any price."

            by annie em on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 05:52:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You are right to defend your friend's (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sfgb, luckylizard, fl1972

            experience, and I respect that in a venue which obviously may carry a bias against such an anecdote.

            However, it is an anecdote. An example. I'm sure there are many who have benefited from TFA, teachers and students. But the program is not a fundamental, long term solution to the difficulties of securing career, professional educators.

            It is a band aid at best. When Kopp's primary function became one of fundraising rather than developing quality teaching, I began to wonder about the longevity of the program.

            The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments. - Friedrich Nietzsche

            by elropsych on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 06:50:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I see your point of view. (0+ / 0-)

              However, we could say that about the Peace Corps as well.  Wendy Kopp has her issues.  However, to claim she is a GOP tool is unfair.  She is not right wing.

              As far as sustaining long term educators, you are probably correct.  However, if it gets 10% of those highly educated, talented graduates to continue on in education in underserved areas, isn't that a success?  I don't know the answer.

              I will say that my friend is a huge success story for TFA; however, I am not sure how she feels about the program.  

              •  That 10% stat is a (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                total fabrication.  And I would thank commenters to cite sources for such numbers instead of trying to make TFA look more successful than it is.  Although the graduates my be great in their fields, they are not professional educators and wouldn't be teaching if we didn't have such high unemployment.

                "My speech is not for sale at any price."

                by annie em on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 08:11:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I think it would be very interesting for all of (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ms Citizen, luckylizard

                us were you to share this conversation, or at least that question with her, and compose your own diary, perhaps even as a response to this one.

                You're obviously interested, and have a unique point of view.

                I'd read it.

                Do you think she'd be honest with you with both praise and critique?

                There is a "teachers lounge" diary series on Saturday mornings, with openings in April. You'd get a built-in audience of informed parents and professionals if you posted as part of that series.

                The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments. - Friedrich Nietzsche

                by elropsych on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 08:26:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Regular teachers are terrible. (11+ / 0-)

      I know because I became one. The first time I stood before a class of 8th graders, I gave a guest lecture and I rocked! Though it was the last week of school and the students were mostly focused on summer, for that one day I got the kids excited about history and they left commenting that it was the most educational class they had had all year. (The regular teacher did not appreciate.)

      Then I entered the credentialing program. All those time-wasting ed courses trained me to be mediocre. They trained me to bully children instead of teach them. They trained me to structure a class around busywork instead of around anything educational. By the time they were done with me, I was as bad as the other regular teacher.

      The purpose of the credentialing program is to train (not teach but train) you to be like the other teachers, the ones currently failing.

      I won't say anything about Teach for America. I know too little about it. But if it has problems, too little training is not one of them.

    •  In many states there always was a way for a (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "qualified" individual with a degree to get into teaching, they are called provisional certificates in my state.  this is just another scam.  Sounds like this young lady is off to a great start and has a big future in the party of snake oil salesmen and con artists (aka GOP)

      •  This has been around for years. (6+ / 0-)

        This started during the Clinton administration.  The program takes very high acheiving graduates and places them in inner city schools or in very rural schools.  It is not a scam.  It is actually a very pregressive program.  Wendy Kopp may be a lot of things but a GOP con artist is not one of them.

        •  It actually started as her senior thesis (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          theran, dufffbeer, MKSinSA

          at Princeton back in 1990.

        •  A lot of this was happening in Texas when (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sfgb, MKSinSA

          Bush was governor. He refused to raise teacher salaries and as a result thousands of teachers left the state, virtually every state in the country was recruiting here because salaries were so awful and it was easy to get teachers to leave. Provisional certificates were encouraged to try to keep young teachers around and get them some experience. Incidentally, one of the first things new governor Rick Perry did when he took office was give teachers a $3,000 raise across the board. Probably the last decent thing he ever did.

          Beer cans are beautiful. It's the roads that are ugly. -- Edward Abbey

          by frankzappatista on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 05:41:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  This program has been around for years, but it (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sfgb, MKSinSA

          only made it to the big time under GWB and GOP big money.  Wendy Kopp knows nothing about education.

          "My speech is not for sale at any price."

          by annie em on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 05:41:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  From the point of view of professional (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sfgb, TiaRachel, hatdog

          educators, it is not considered very progressive.

          It is not considered progressive, at all, actually.

          TFA is like a cult of "we are smarter than you are, and 2 years from now I can brag to my future business employers that I did something for the po' folk, so now you can feel better about hiring me at 3 to 4 times what my teacher salary was."

          These are not people in it for the long haul.

          Kraft Foods also tells me that high fructose corn syrup is the best thing for my child since real fruits and vegetables. I don't believe their marketing without checking under the hood, either.

          The diarist's tone of voice may not win many converts to her cause, but the basic position she takes is supported by the attitude of TFA people (the "we-have-all-the-answers" attitude gets real old real fast) and the statistics of their very high early retirement rate support the diarist.

          The marketing refutes him/her

          The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments. - Friedrich Nietzsche

          by elropsych on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 06:46:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thank you for your comments, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and I'm aware that my diary comes off as angry, but professional educators should be angry at punks like Wendy Kopp who throw our profession in our faces as if it weren't a profession at all.  

            "My speech is not for sale at any price."

            by annie em on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 08:14:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  The party of Madoff! n/t (0+ / 0-)
      •  You can do this in OR but (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        you have to complete an educational curriculum within a set amount of time. "Provisional" really varies by state.
        And I find it really insulting to assume someone with a BA degree making a career change to teach is just a scam. I am doing this.
        I will be getting my masters and go teach science in rural schools- if I can get money from TFA, I'll take it- but I am too old, too cynical to buy into any snake-oil shit anymore. Corporate America has taught me how to take it with a smile, than do what I have to to get it done right when they aren't looking.

        -7.50/-7.90 Everyone knows I'm out in left field.

        by WiseFerret on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 06:20:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry, I worded that pooly. (0+ / 0-)

          Didn't mean offense.  The part I was calling a scam was what the diarist referred to here.

          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

          which i interpreted as being that this organization was making $20K per person to get them into the classroom in which case I would agree with the diarist, for $20K we cold send the intersted individual to a current certification program, at least an alternative certificiation program for about the same amount.  This falls into the catagory of all the "privatization" efforts of the GOP which in many cases it appears to me has less to do with doing a good job for less money as it does making sure well connected people get some plush contracts. In that sense, i didn't read the diary that close and I didn't go look up more information about the organziation to see what they are really about.  My mistake.  I am guilty on that account and i apologize.

          I know a number of provisionally certified teachers who do a good job.  I also know that in our state the track record of provisionals to get through the process is not all that great.

          •  Poorly....Poorly.... (0+ / 0-)

            good grief.

          •  "making sure well connected people... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hard to Port, Ms Citizen

            ...get some plush contracts"

            Remind me to loan you Thomas Franks' The Wrecking Crew when I'm done with it.  Exactly that.

            I remember reading back in the 90's about one of these private tutoring companies -- like Sylvan or one of those -- that had a contract in a large urban district to tutor.  Article was raving about the results they were getting, how this might be the new wave in education, yadayadayada.  

            They gave a few stats and if you paid attention you could dig out enough to calculate a cost-per-pupil, which worked out, IIRC, to something like $42,000 per student per year.  

            I think most any school district in the country could find a way to do a damn fine job with that kind of funding.

            People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. --C. Wright Mills

            by dsteffen on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 07:24:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  yea, but that money goes to the wrong people! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              you know, the little people, like workers, teachers and others who don't deserve it.

            •  also I'll trade you (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dsteffen, Ms Citizen

              for my copy of blackwater.  I'll warn you, you'll want to be sure your blood pressure presciption is filled.  I nearly ground my teeth to nubs reading that f*cking book.

              Great quote from the one I'm reading now, IKE, by Korda.  A biography of Eisenhower.  He talks about how Ike was assigned to the Pentagon in the 1920s-30's to develop mobilization plans and plans to get industry mobilized in case of war.  This apparently involved some damned socialist ideas like price controls and government controls of the economy.  The author metions that Ike had trouble getting people to come into his office so he could get answers since the word was out that it was bad for your career if you went to talk with this wacko. (my words, not Kordas).  Anyway, the quote that jumped out at me was (paraphrased) that when Ike warned about the M/I complex in his retirement address, he wasn't just talking from a deep understanding of it, it was from the position that he had in fact, had a major part in CREATING it!

            •  I'm sure your $42,000 figure is (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Hard to Port

              off-base.  Maybe more like $4,200 which is still way too much for a school to pay for tutoring per child.

              "My speech is not for sale at any price."

              by annie em on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 08:18:54 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No, it was extrapolated. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Hard to Port

                They were contracting this outfit to come in and do tutoring.  They only worked with the kids a few hours a week (pretty much one-on-one).  They had a contract that paid them so much for tutoring x-number of kids.

                Time mag writer was going on about how "this might be the wave of the future.  All schools should be taught this way, why can't regular classroom teachers get these kinds of results?" etc etc etc.

                If you sat down and worked out what it would cost to teach a student for the a whole day at the rate per hour per student they were getting paid, carried through an entire school year, it worked out to $42,000 per student per year.  Not something any school board I know is going to be ponying up.

                People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. --C. Wright Mills

                by dsteffen on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 11:02:20 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  OK, thanks. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Hard to Port, Ms Citizen

            That is a scam, I agree. There are other programs. (I'm in one)
            Provisionally certified worries me if they aren't required to train on how to teach. Personally, I know my subject area very well. What I am not so certain of is how to communicate that knowledge in the right sized bites to various types of learners.
            The other issue is the provisional teachers often haven't even been in a classroom setting or worked with kids. They burn out fast in frustration but are stuck. At least in Oregon, having to take teaching classes at the same time, helps cope, but the turnover is still high.
            I'm not taking that route, but I did have to volunteer in a classroom (every potential teacher should have to). Fortunately, I love it. I love the kids, motivated and not. For those not interested, bored, I feel this thrill of challenge. . . Hopefully, that'll keep with me, even on the worst days.

            -7.50/-7.90 Everyone knows I'm out in left field.

            by WiseFerret on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 07:27:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  good for you (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dsteffen, Ms Citizen, WiseFerret

              and good luck.  I am always amazed at how many times students come to our program and they think they know exactly what this business is, until they spend some time in the classroom, and before long, they change majors.  on the other hand, one of my best ones this year came to the program late, and delayed graduation for a year to get certified.  He's was a real sleeper, drove me nuts for a year and a half arguing with me about everything (administratively) but is doing a great job, the cooperating teacher raves, the student comes up the most original and creative and fun lessons.  cool to watch.

    •  I am constantly amazed at how (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TiaRachel, elropsych

      many hacks rise to top positions of influence in our society. I wonder if it goes with the anti-intellectual thing America has a fondness for. I'm not surprised though, the amount of hacks sticking their hands into education to "fix" it for us is amazing. Tons of money to be made!!

    •  I dunno. I am not sure how effective (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dar Nirron

      some education classes are.

      My loving marriage of 17 years is now a symbol of inequality and discrimination.

      by coigue on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 06:54:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Best teacher I ever had... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pletzs, coigue, dconrad, Dar Nirron

      was a former Army colonel who came out of retirement to teach history.

      Didn't have his teaching certificate.

      What we need are masters of the subject, not experts on teaching "theory".

      •  agreed. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dconrad, Dar Nirron

        One semester in classroom management in additon to a subject BS should be fine.

        My loving marriage of 17 years is now a symbol of inequality and discrimination.

        by coigue on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 07:00:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Heh. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Depends on the classroom.  Small secondary AP class maybe.  My wife has known 35-student junior high classes that would eat someone alive coming in with those credentials.

          People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. --C. Wright Mills

          by dsteffen on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 07:39:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  they would eat the credentialled teachers too (0+ / 0-)

            don't kid yourself.

            When I was in high school, I was a terror when my teachers were ignorant of the subject. When they actually had some in depth knowledge, they had my respect.

            My loving marriage of 17 years is now a symbol of inequality and discrimination.

            by coigue on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 08:03:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              "When they actually had some in depth knowledge, they had my respect."

              From the broad-brush comments you've been making in this diary, I didn't think there were any like that.

              And no, I don't think they do eat a well-trained teacher alive.  

              My experience when my kids were going through school (and during the sixteen years my wife spent in public school classrooms, and the 30 years my sister has spent in elementary teaching) was that the problem wasn't that the bad teachers had too many education courses and not enough content.  Their knowledge of the education concepts was just as poor as their knowledge of the content.  They were just lousy employees, and if you stuck them at a bank tellers window, they'd be lousy at that, and if they tried to sell insurance they'd be lousy at that and if you put them at a punch press they'd be lousy at that.

              But they weren't all like that as you seem to want to assert.  In fact, there weren't that many of them.  Most took their responsibility seriously, knew their stuff, and were good at their jobs.  Kinda like the manufacturing company I work for -- good employees and bad employees.  

              Except I think the manufacturing company I work for probably pays someone with their education level better.  

              People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. --C. Wright Mills

              by dsteffen on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 08:39:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Wrong. I had fab teachers, and crap ones. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                All before TFA existed.

                My mom was a teacher and she said her ed training was idiotic. The ed training now is geared toward testing, and I talk to teachers often (as I am part of a PTA) who shake their heads saying those right out of school totally teach to the test.

                Less of that kind of training is better. Student teaching is just teaching without pay, so I don't really include that, and if new teachers are paired up with mentor colleagues, that is a good practic that a principle can institute.

                I don't like this diary in the least because it is an attack of a subgroup of teachers, and a nasty one of that. How is that helpful? Doesn't everyone have  same goal here? It's petty in the extreme when the kids are at stake.

                My loving marriage of 17 years is now a symbol of inequality and discrimination.

                by coigue on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 09:18:12 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  What are your thoughts on the performance (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of the KIPP program, either of an offshoot of TFA or in its particular methods?

  •  My husband has a client whose daughter (7+ / 0-)

    is involved with this program.  She became interested for all the right reasons, wanting to feel like she was helping to make a difference somehow, somewhere.  She spent last year in inner city LA and is now at a Chgo southside school, both problem areas in attracting teachers.  But----and here's the big but-----they have her teaching h.s. math, for which she has no training and admittedly was her worst subject in school.
     I think the kids in my daughter's h.s. math classes are at an advantage as they have a teacher, who majored in math/education in college and has her masters in the subject she is teaching.

  •  Teach for America was her thesis (6+ / 0-)

    at Princeton, I believe.  I have a friend that did it and was a teacher in Compton.  She then went onto become a principal at a LA school.  She successfully turned around a very low proforming school.  It is a two year program aimed at allowing young graduates to give back to their country in a profound way.  There are problems with the program; however, to simply boil it down this way is unfair.

  •  Say what you want about the program (10+ / 0-)

    but that doesn't mean they pump out shitty teachers. The best young teacher I know went through TFA. In fact she is far and away the best young teacher I know (we taught together in grad school), and she spent her two years teaching at a very understaffed inner city school in the Bay Area.

    As for the rest of your claims, could be true for all I know. But don't paint all their teachers with a broad brush.

    Beer cans are beautiful. It's the roads that are ugly. -- Edward Abbey

    by frankzappatista on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 05:31:29 PM PDT

  •  There's a major problem with teacher education (17+ / 0-)

    Besides the fact that we don't compensate teachers well at all in America, the teacher education curriculum drives intelligent students away from becoming teachers.  I have several very bright friends who are struggling to get through mind-numbing education classes, some taught by unqualified professors, so that they can have a career teaching subjects they love.  Bright students with serious interest in various subjects sacrifice hours they could spend studying subjects they love for hours of "worthless" education classes -- "worthless" being a word I've heard describe these classes over and over.

    I think there's a serious problem when a friend of mine, a chemistry education student at a state university, completes hours upon hours of redundant education courses in which, by her own admission, she learns almost nothing (and this is from a student who LOVES learning) while I, a biology student, take more semesters of organic CHEMISTRY than she has.  The education classes keep her bored out of her mind and bar her from learning more of the subject she will soon teach.

    So maybe we'd be better off, and get more passionate and informed teachers, if we had education students get four-year degrees in their fields and take a few courses in education and lots of field experience, not 50+ hours of education courses that limit their exposure to coursework in their field.  Maybe then our US History teachers would be more interested in teaching revisionist history than blind patriotism and our science teachers would be convinced that intelligent design is actually not a viable theory.

    •  Yes, there is a major problem with teacher (5+ / 0-)

      education and those of us in education would be the first to say it.  WE have some really good schools of education and some awful ones.   That's what the national conversation should revolve around.  

      I was lucky.  I had a great education education.  

      But just trashing the teaching profession as NCLB does by hiring anyone is not the answer.  If that is going to be policy, let's be up front with everyone and close down schools of education.

      "My speech is not for sale at any price."

      by annie em on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 06:01:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You are learning what scientists (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos, Dar Nirron

      expect other scientists to know about science.  Your friend is learning what the k--12 system expects her to know about science.  Presumably since high-school is mostly p-chem, that's basically all she's getting.

      "Dream for just a second and then do it!" -- Kolmogorov

      by theran on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 06:10:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Is there a different path to teach college? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ms Citizen

        I'm just wondering if all schools of education are aiming at k-12 and so it really isn't the best choice for those people who absolutely love their subject and want to continue learning, or want to eventually teach at a very high level.  Unless, of course, they want to basically do two majors at once.

        If you want to teach at college, do you skip the education classes, get your Masters/PhD and then enter the classroom without teaching certification?

    •  I disagree somewhat, sunflower (5+ / 0-)

      there are many mind numbing courses in all professions, but sometimes these courses need to be taken. I walked into a classroom 20 years ago with a degree in English from Rutgers ( we weren't jumping off the roof like organic chem majors but we still had to read and write a lot !)and no teacher training through NJ's alternate route program. It was a disaster; my ideas were good but I had no idea how to get through. I've seen former AT&T execs try to teach math, and bio-techs try to teach science. Some work out but a lot walk away. Student teaching is a valuable tool to prepare for the classroom. Courses on child development, learning disabilities, child psychology, adolescent development, sociology of education, and the politics of funding are just a few things essential for a new teacher to have studied. I suspect such writing and research intensive courses are boring for a chemistry type who might be more comfortable with numbers and the periodic chart, but they need to be taught. But I'm with you on the post-graduate training; it should be a master's degree. Some schools offer specialized masters where a chem major can take courses in education with the emphasis on teaching science. Not all education programs are equal.Problem is, there is then a separate bunch of degrees for each discipline, from guidance to principal. Guidance has morphed into counseling in NJ ( and that's a good thing; they no longer need to be teachers first, and the emphasis is on counseling )but there's no reason one should have to get a separate degree to be a principal. All teachers should be licensed, in my perfect world, to step in as administrators once they have a masters degree. But we fucked that up too, and now people have to do 33-46 credits in admin plus yet another internship! No wonder there is a principal shortage. Plus the job sucks these days...

    •  Teacher education in this country... (7+ / 0-) almost without exception dreadful.

      How do I know?  I teach teacher education, and I am constantly amazed at what isn't taught, what isn't considered, and what isn't thought of as worthwhile.  I talk with teachers all the time...and they reflect a truly tragic state of affairs, one where they are mostly not able to just do their fucking jobs because they're dealing with state requirements that suck the life out of their engagement with kids.

      Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

      by WarrenS on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 06:31:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Absolutely... (0+ / 0-)

      Just one more data point (or anecdote if your prefer).

      Went to a big state U. for graduate school.  Roomie was a senior chemE who decided to add on a teaching certificate.

      She was bored out of her skull the whole year, never even cracked a book.  Spent most of it helping other chemE students and working; still pulled straight A's.  She was very bright, and completely out of place amongst her education classes -- most of them couldn't pour water out of a boot if directions were printed on the heel.

  •  Well- I dont know if this is still valid - (5+ / 0-)

    this is from 2005

    BUT - this is very impressive.  

    10 percent of the graduating class of Yale University applied to the program, which accepts only about 1 of every 8 applicants. According to a 2005 survey by an independent research firm, 75 percent of principals who were surveyed consider TFA members more effective than other beginning teachers.

    Also, the fact that these teachers get deployed to low income, often minority school districts where others may not want to teach should also be applauded.

    "Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by Blue VA on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 05:53:19 PM PDT

    •  This information is not (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sfgb, dsteffen, Ms Citizen, elropsych

      correct according to Hammond's paper.  Can you cite a source?  Wendy puts out a lot of her own "facts."  I highly doubt that 10 per cent of Yale grads applied to teach.

      "My speech is not for sale at any price."

      by annie em on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 06:05:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Monkeys are flying out of my butt. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Isn't that impressive?

      Without a source, this reads like classic TFA propaganda-marketing, of which there is much. And it would be very convincing, if there were not others (such as Darling-Hammond mentioned in the diary) who have scratched the surface and found it doesn't smell as good as the marketers would have us believe.

      As for those monkeys, I guess you'll just have to trust me. Like you're trusting that uncited quote.

      The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments. - Friedrich Nietzsche

      by elropsych on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 07:00:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  hoo are going to get slammed (7+ / 0-)

    on these boards by all the former Teach For America vets, who will take this personally. But you are absolutely right. In no other profession would anyone in their right minds consider alternative ceritifcation approaches. we talk about education in other countries, but fail to note how demanding it is to become a teacher in Germany, for example. There are problems in every profession, from law to medicine, where repetetive or things which seem to make no sense are still taught, or where things could be improved, but no one is saying we should short-cut the road to those professions. Educational research IS valid and the answer is to require even higher standards for licensure, not less. require a full subject major and a graduate degree for all teachers. And for goodness sake, give college students more financial aid so they can afford to go to school to become a relatively low paid teacher! ( i know, i know, the pay is better than it was, but it still sucks in a lot of places where teachers are needed )I don't think TFA is wrong minded, but there should never have even been TFA, because there should never be unlicensed teachers in classrooms. Fix the certification process if you think it sucks, but don't get rid of it. If you need a license to cut hair or give a back massage, why wouldn't you need one to be a teacher?

    •  I know I'm going to take flack (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      luckylizard, elropsych

      from TFAers, but I'm up for the challenge.  Besides I have quite an arsenal of regular teachers on my side who resent the arrogance of Wendy Kopp and her little cadets as much as I do.

      "My speech is not for sale at any price."

      by annie em on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 06:09:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That is so not true (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "In no other profession would anyone in their right minds consider alternative certifcation approaches." That is not true in my experience, but maybe it hinges on your use of the word "profession": I'm a software QA engineer, in a field where most people's degrees are in computer science; I have a humanities BA and have learned most of what I know on the job. There's no doubt that it's been harder for me to advance that it would have been with a CS degree, but I have enough aptitude for this particular line of work that it gets me by. Similarly, if a software developer didn't have a CS degree but could prove that they write code that works and know how to work with a schedule and have proven references, they'll be considered pretty highly.

      Perhaps this is apples and oranges here, since the concrete output of a teacher is harder to put your finger on. But honestly, the concern with the proper certification seems a little crazy considering how many teachers we need, how we need to elevate the general intelligence of the teachers, and how mind-numbing most education training programs are.

      Also, the reason you need a license for cutting hair or giving massages are the health and hygiene concerns. You don't need a license to be a software developer and you can cause a heck of a lot more damage.

      A word after a word after a word is power. -- Margaret Atwood

      by tmo on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 08:08:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not an apt comparison at present (0+ / 0-)

        I too know people in your field who excel who didn't even attend college. There are people who could excel in law or medicine without a degree. But we would not allow it. Software design etc is still too new for it to be considered a profession in the sociological sense. Those would be law, medicine,clinical psychology, engineering, academia, and begrudgingly, school teaching ( because despite the blue collar treatment, it still shares more with the professions than it does with the auto workers in many respects, i.e. a certain degree of autonomy, a professional jargon, gatekeeping, etc.but it still falls short in many areas )Nursing and clinical social work are also strong candidates for being classed as professionals ( licensing, gatekeeping, etc ) as are professional mental health counselors in many states now ( LPC's, etc )and some would include accounting as well. In fact, the high tech field is known for its openness to people from all backgrounds, but that's because at present, there are no real professional standards that are required by state licensing boards, as far as I know. At one time you became a lawyer by studying under a lawyer. Barbers pulled teeth. Things change. And at one time, anyone could pick up a cane and go to work as a teacher in the little red schoolhouse. Why turn back the clock to those days? Good discussion the way I have no aptitude for computers at all, and am amazed at my friends who can do all sorts of things with them. That stuff all bores me to tears. Congrats on proving that humanities majors can succeed in the business/tech world.i am sure your training in critical thinking in the humanities had more to do with your success than you might imagine.

  •  This diary earned this... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pletzs, theran, Dar Nirron

    In the future, use bold more often. Also, don't be afraid to argue that other programs were bad simply because George Bush liked them. And never, ever hesitate to use a biting, sarcastic tone and accuse others of having a chip on their shoulder.

    If you're a teacher, I'd prefer my kids take their chances with someone from TFA.

  •  I have more than 10 years of college teaching (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tmo, pletzs, theran, coigue, Kevskos, dconrad, Ms Citizen

    experience.  And a master's degree in clinical psychology, with an undergraduate minor in developmental psychology.

    I have developed two classes for the community college from scratch (one is now a required course for nursing majors), and have developed 3 classes for online delivery.

    But if I wanted to teach K-12, I would have to take several classes in "education" in order to do so.

    To say my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

    by Dar Nirron on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 06:40:18 PM PDT

    •  Agreed. If you have a PhD or teaching experience (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ms Citizen

      you should have an accelerated certification. PhD is considered a teaching degree)

      My loving marriage of 17 years is now a symbol of inequality and discrimination.

      by coigue on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 07:06:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, but according to the diarist, (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tmo, theran, coigue, Ms Citizen

        I'm a "fake teacher."

        I did some substitute school teaching when I was between jobs. I scrapped the prepared lesson and taught a group of "basic math" high school students how to measure things with a ruler.  Which NONE OF THEM KNEW.  Even after having been in public schools for at least 8 years before that class--and some of them were seniors. Here is what happened at a suburban Indianapolis school on one particular day.

        The lesson in the textbook was about estimating length.  One of the questions:  "Is a potato about (a) five inches long, (b) five feet long (c) five miles long or (d) five yards long."  I am not making this up!  And, quite frankly, NONE OF THEM KNEW.  One of the boys was wearing a football team jacket, so I asked him how long a first down was--could he step it off?  He said it was about the length of the classroom we were in.  "So," I said, "how long is 5 yards, since a first down is 10 yards?"  NONE OF THEM COULD FIGURE THAT OUT!

        I was able to find a few rulers and three yardsticks.  I asked if any of them had seen a potato before it was made into french fries.  Mr. Football was one of the ones who laughed, and said that it was about the size of his fist.  We measured his fist, and it was about 5 inches long.  "What are inches, feet, yards, and miles?" they asked me.  I told them that it was about 5 miles to the nearest K-Mart from where they were sitting.  We then proceeded to measure everything in that room:  The floor tiles, the door, the windows, the desks and chairs, textbooks, pencils, people's shoes, anything we could think of.

        Several students came up to me in the hallway or at lunch, and asked if I could replace their regular teacher, "because I learned more in one hour today than the whole year [six weeks in] so far."

        Now, you tell me--if all of these certified teachers, with their god-knows-how-many-hours of "education" classes, who had been in charge of this mixed group of teenagers (9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th graders) for at least 8 years--and NOT ONE of those teachers had ever just turned the students loose with rulers and yardsticks so they could learn how to measure something--then what the hell good is that teaching certificate?  If it is typical to have such glaring ignorance of a basic skill that my homeschooled children had mastered by age 7, what good is that teaching certificate?  And why-in-the-name-of-all-that-is-holy was there a TEXTBOOK for HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS that assumed that the teenagers would be clueless about measuring with a ruler?  Because, in thousands of classrooms across America that week, other kids were being asked the same thing.  And they didn't know, either.  And they had been "taught" math classes all along.

        And I am the "fake teacher."  Right.

        To say my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

        by Dar Nirron on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 07:28:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If it isn't on a ditto (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dar Nirron

          they didn't learn it.

          Thank heaven there are many exceptions.

          My loving marriage of 17 years is now a symbol of inequality and discrimination.

          by coigue on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 08:01:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  No, you're a dilletante n/t (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          markw, Orinoco

          the fact that you're right is nothing more than interesting

          by Egg on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 08:24:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think that word does not mean what you (0+ / 0-)

            think it means.  Did you read above, that I have more than a decade of college teaching experience?

            To say my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

            by Dar Nirron on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 06:24:03 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  You saw a select crew (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          markw, Ms Citizen

          The high school students in your basic math class were put there instead of in algebra or trigonometry or geometry because in the eight to ten years prior to their enrollment in that class they hadn't learned math, measurement, problem solving or probably much else besides counting, adding and subtracting and maybe some simple multiplication.

          One thing you can't say is that their earlier teachers never turned them loose with a yardstick to measure things.

          Your students may have been the kids in the overcrowded classroom who didn't get the chance while the rest of the kids took turns with the only yardsticks available. Or maybe they were the kids who needed but wouldn't wear their glasses because it would make them look like geeks, so they couldn't see the marks on the stick the teacher was talking about. Or they decided at some point early on that "math isn't me" and when ever the teacher started doing anything remotely math related they tuned out.

          There are always a couple in every class, up through middle school. In high school, though, the three from here, the two from there, all add up into a class full of kids who, for whatever reason, never got it. And, yeah, there is a remedial math book, written for high school students, that covers remedial math. That assumes they know nothing, because that just might be true.

          But that doesn't mean the teachers they had on the way never taught it.

          "You can't get something for nothing...It's time to stop being stupid." Bob Herbert

          by Orinoco on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 08:47:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  what kind of a school district was that? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dar Nirron

          Those questions about units of measurement and estimating are exactly what my second-grader is working on in math right now.

          What an embarrassment for that school district, to have kids in high school who can't measure.

    •  That's just my point. Under NCLB (0+ / 0-)

      you don't have to have any K-12 "education" to enter those classrooms.  That's why I'm so angry.

      "My speech is not for sale at any price."

      by annie em on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 08:36:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  your argument is fine... (0+ / 0-)

    but the angry tone takes away from your point.

    "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 you're seriously trying to say that a twenty-two year old who gets turned down from a few big jobs is a miserable, exceptional failure, then you've clearly never applied for a job.

    I'm sure that she thinks that her program is doing something good for America. I don't claim to have any idea what the performance of the TFA corps is like, although I can say that if it attracts some great talent (which it seems to from my limited, anecdotal experience, because I have several extremely intelligent friends who have done the program) then I don't really see the harm. Like it or not, a lot of these top-tier school grads are not going to want to teach the old fashioned, non-glamorous way because their idea of success is not being an elementary school teacher. Whether this is justified or not, it's a fact. Kopp has created a program which draws people in, and a lot of them do decide to continue on in education.

    This link here :quotes the statistic of 43.6% of TFA alums remaining in their school past their initial two year commitment.

    Anyway, I don't necessarily disagree with you that schools should hire more qualified and better teachers, but that responsibility should fall with the school, and not with the college graduates who decide to participate in TFA.

    •  You still don't understand. Real teachers are (0+ / 0-)

      losing their jobs because anyone who has a four year degree can take a k-12 job.  We have plenty of certified teachers, but they are being let go year in increasing number each year right before they get tenure.  

      Those stats don't match those from Darling-Hammond and others.  Who provided them to the Harvard web site?

      "My speech is not for sale at any price."

      by annie em on Mon Mar 23, 2009 at 09:16:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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