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A program that started out with much promise has changed course along the way.   Now they are replacing experienced tenured teachers instead of going to schools where they are needed.  

It costs nothing to hire experienced laid-off teachers locally, but it costs several thousand in recruiting fees to hire a TFA recruit with only five-weeks training in the classroom.

It destroys the morale of good, caring teachers who planned for their life careers.  It turns teaching into a job in which dedication and experience are not needed.   The company has managed through media interaction to turn Teach for America into a group thought to be elite.  A group better than ordinary everyday teachers with bachelor or masters degrees.  Not sure how they did that.

Teach for America makes pitch to CPS

Teach for America wants to put its teachers in Cincinnati Public Schools, possibly as early next year.  

Board members haven't decided if TFA is right for Cincinnati. The district of 33,000 students doesn't know how many teacher openings it will have next year. More than 300 teachers are eligible to retire next year but it's unclear how many will do so or if the district will be able to replace them.

School Board President Eve Bolton noted that there is a glut of laid-off veteran teachers in the region. Why should CSP hire TFA teachers instead, she asked.

Two reasons, Lindy said:

-Because of their diverse backgrounds, TFA teachers provide a strong candidate pool.

-TFA teachers have leadership and belief in kids.

Regular everyday fully trained and certified teachers have leadership and belief in kids.  Plenty of it.   That is really an insult for the TFA recruiter to say that.  

This drastic change in direction through the years for TFA has been often pointed out on Gary Rubenstein's TFA blog.  

What happened to my TFA?

Over the years I’ve seen TFA stray from the initial goal to fill voids where they were desperately needed.  TFA has always been good at PR.  As a struggling non-profit in the mid-90s they were wise to spotlight the success stories.  This included successes of individual teachers and then of schools that were run by TFA alumni, generally charter schools.

But I’ve seen more recently what started as PR and taking care of the organizations self-interests turn into something that I honestly believe is dangerous.

By exaggerating their success, they have gotten the public to believe that kids would be a lot better off if we got rid of all the old lazy teachers and replaced them with these TFA dynamos — not admitting that most TFA corps members are not very effective, especially in their first year.

TFA has spawned so many charter schools each with their own PR machines and has fueled a movement that actually threatens public schools.  Many of these charter schools kick out the hardest-to-educate kids so they can get their statistics up.  In doing so, the self interest of growing a charter network is completely contrary to the TFA goal that one day ALL children …

Rubenstein says there is hope for the group to reclaim their goals of the past.

But getting back to a place that has the values that I joined TFA to pursue, twenty years ago, almost to the day, will not just happen.  It will require, first, that TFA acknowledges their role in this current ‘blame the teachers’ political mentality. Whether it was because others used TFA’s exaggerated successes for their own benefit or, in the case of the staff member slandering a respected scholar, just arrogance and refusal to listen to criticism, TFA has played, and continues to play a role.

The "blame the teacher" mentality is shared pretty much generally now by congress members in both parties.   It is also shared by the leadership of our party.   I am retired, but I keep in touch with many who are still in the classroom.   This mindset by the reformer groups is disturbing to them.  They have lost a lot of confidence in themselves and in each other,  and they are now fearful of the jobs they felt good about for years.

It's wrong, it is humiliating to good teachers who trained and worked for years to make them feel inadequate.  

I think maybe some of our leaders are catching on that they have made mistakes in allowing the takeover of education by billionaires and groups that charge to recruit trainees with just a few weeks training.  Unfortunately no one is stepping up with a mea culpa, and soon it will be to late to stop the roller coaster.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  That is scandalous, but I don't think it's true... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Free Jazz at High Noon

    ...that CPS would spend more on TFA kids than on rehiring experienced laid-off teachers.  Once you get past the placement fees the TFA kids would work for the starting salary, while the laid-off teachers would presumably have to be brought back at their most recent salary step.  This isn't privatization for spite, it's privatization for cheapness.

    I'm perfectly comfortable with TFA, by the way, in districts where they haven't laid off teachers.  I don't think a district has any moral or practical obligation to hire a new teacher the conventional way if they can use TFA, and I think it's useful to public education to seed the upper echelons of our society (which is where TFA kids come from, and where they're going back to) with people who have seen really disadvantaged settings.  But laying off teachers and then bringing in TFA quasi-teachers is way beyond anything I would defend.

    But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

    by Rich in PA on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 06:00:57 PM PDT

    •  It's happening around the country. (3+ / 0-)

      Yes, it is privatization for cheapness.  It is the process of ending teaching as a career, and turning it into a temp kind of position.  

      I do care a lot.   It takes resources from traditional public schools.  It punishes people who for years have done their job and beyond.  

    •  ehhhh (0+ / 0-)
      I think it's useful to public education to seed the upper echelons of our society (which is where TFA kids come from, and where they're going back to) with people who have seen really disadvantaged settings.  

      I'd agree IF the upper echelons of society had any track record of supporting public education.

      They don't.

  •  TFA was cleared for Ohio in the spring. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Certification barriers were removed so not being certified yet would not be a problem.

    Teach for America Cleared to Come to Ohio

    "If you've ever wondered why the bright, talented, young folks who join Teach for America don't end up in Ohio, it's been because they couldn't — "certification barriers" existed that prevented the program from working with low-income areas in the state, according to the AP. Ohio has just as many backward, underfunded, badly managed schools as there are in... say... rural Appalachia, it's just that Ohio also had obstacles blocking Teach for America from helping.

    That changes now.

        The measure will allow the State Board of Education to issue resident educator licenses to program participants assigned to Ohio. It also will require Teach For America to enter into agreements with colleges to allow participants to complete an optional master’s degree."

    As to the "glut" of experienced laid off teachers, too bad for you.  

  •  Our new superintendant is proposing this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, phonegery

    here in Huntsville, Al.  

    We just had to lay off 400 teachers this summer, and the new superintendent wants to pay TFA to get teachers for us.  Uh, I think we can rehire the laid-off ones for free.

    But it seems that too many people are drinking his kool-aid and buying into TFA gets us the "best and brightest from America's colleges."  Silly me, I thought the best and brightest were attending, say, grad school at MIT.

    Of course, what it's really about is they'll be cheaper because they have less tenure, and I'm sure there's an anti-teachers union component, too.  

    (Full disclosure: my dad was a college prof.  So I'm not against teachers. But it is also pretty stupid that you could teach in a college setting for 30 years and not be qualified to teach in public school.   And while I'm in favor of unions, I do consider that the pendulum has on occasion swung too far to their side (but it has also swung too far to the employers side.  Equilibrium is a constant struggle.))

    Republicans: if they only had a heart.

    by leu2500 on Thu Nov 03, 2011 at 06:58:49 PM PDT

    •  I wish we had more college profs teaching HS (0+ / 0-)

      As a high school teacher I have non-stop issues with infantile requests to dumb down instruction for all types of reasons. Having a few more ex-college profs in the nation's high schools would do wonders in helping our nation's high schools instruct in a manner more consistent with developing graduates who could better function as adults.

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