Anyone else feel that Teach For America is taking jobs from the rest of us?

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by bet3, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 13, 2012

    I think that passion for educating youth is an important component of the job.

    But it's not the only component. Very often, it's not even the most vital. And I've seen no evidence that that same passion for educating youth is absent in candidates who have gone through the traditional preparation to teach.

    In its time, TFA may have had its use. Not in this region, where there has always been a glut of teachers. But in some parts of the country, perhaps.

    Now it seems that it's an idea whose time has come and gone in most areas. Most parts of the country, inner cities included, have far more applicants than jobs. It makes no sense to me to hire someone with no training over someone with training. Teaching, or at least teaching well, is far more complicated than showing up with a passion for educating youth.

    But I think the point that some are making on this thread is that it's pointless to rail against the unfairness of it all. If a district has committed to TFA for this calendar year, then pass them by and look elsewhere.
     
  2. Momzoid

    Momzoid Companion

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    Aug 13, 2012

    Aliceacc-That is exactly what the local colleges are telling their teacher candidates! We have three in our city and everyone of them are telling their educations students to look outside the city because they don't stand a chance with TFA.
     
  3. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Aug 13, 2012

    Just out of curiosity, is it the same for the elementary schools in your district or just secondary? It's just hard for me to imagine a place that can't get elementary teachers since there is such a huge glut of them. I know our HS was still trying to hire last week (school started today)- I know because they actually called one of my friends from my home state, who unfortunately by that time had given up trying to look for another job and agreed to go back to her old one. However I know they didn't have any problem staffing the elementary schools.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Aug 13, 2012

    It's the same for elementary schools, at least the ones in low SES neighborhoods.

    My district is a very large district with all sorts of schools. Some have really great test scores and involved parents and all that other great stuff. It's quite a mixed bag.
     
  5. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Aug 13, 2012

    Believe it! My old school still had 2 vacancies last week. And there are dozens of vacancies still in Chicago Public Schools, several of them in schools that started today, and several of them PreK-3rd. The ones I recognize are all low-performing and high needs. That's not everyone's cup of tea.
     
  6. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Aug 13, 2012

    To the OP: I think what happened to you SUCKS and is unacceptable. Period.
     
  7. bet3

    bet3 Companion

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    Aug 14, 2012

    I appreciate that a lot. The support on this board has helped me work through some of my anger about this situation. :)
     
  8. eternalsunshine

    eternalsunshine Rookie

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    Aug 18, 2012

    Reading this thread made me think of the social implications of TFA. I'm sure it was not created to do this, but as mentioned above, "you'd mostly likely have to be working in an urban school or a charter school to see firsthand how this is done. Believe me, you DON'T see TFA teachers in a nice suburban school because they are not highly qualified."

    In the natural course of things, this would cause less trained/qualified TFA teachers to saturate the more urban areas while more trained/experienced teachers filling the suburbs. It seems to me that this would be another classic, possible case of the "rich getting richer" so to speak. Just an inevitable side affect of TFA is seems.

    In the same vein, teachers get blamed for so many things in education, so I don't know why states allow programs like TFA or emergency credentials (back in the day.) Education should be looked at as a craft that is perfected over time, not just something to "try out" for awhile.
     
  9. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Aug 18, 2012

    Hey, I just saw you were in Kentucky (I am as well). I had no idea that crap was happening here. Very frustrating!
     
  10. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Aug 18, 2012

    One of the girls I went to college with is teaching for TFA in Kentucky. She was an English major and she's teaching 2nd grade. I have a hard time believing there aren't tons of elementary certified people who would love to teach 2nd grade...
     
  11. teach42

    teach42 Comrade

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    Aug 19, 2012

    Well, here you go...

    "The organization that was launched to serve public schools so poor or dysfunctional they couldn't attract qualified teachers now sends fully a third of its recruits to privately run charter schools, many with stellar academic reputations, flush budgets and wealthy donors. TFA also sends its rookies, who typically have just 15 to 20 hours of teaching experience, to districts that have recently laid off scores of more seasoned teachers."

    Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/...teach-for_n_1788298.html?utm_hp_ref=education

    The rest of the article is even more disturbing. They have a huge network and many of their alumni have a lot of influence on educational policy. Seems like they are recruiting potential leaders who can benefit them in the future. One of the comments on the article said that all their interview questions seem to be focused on leadership as opposed to education. Interesting. And then look at the statistics, or lack thereof.
     
  12. yeahimateacher

    yeahimateacher Rookie

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    Aug 19, 2012

    I am certified too, and made it to the final round but didn't make all the way. I will prob apply again as well if I don't get any offers.
     
  13. yeahimateacher

    yeahimateacher Rookie

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    Aug 19, 2012

    Where is this at? I would apply, I would love the challenge.
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Southern Nevada.
     
  15. ayla

    ayla Companion

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    Aug 24, 2012

    I know about 10 people who have done TfA, one of them being one of the girls in my certification program.

    My immediate reaction to this thread was that most of the TFA jobs are going to charter schools now, anyways, so let that trend continue and it won't affect us too much anymore anyways.

    My next reaction was about one of my friends currently teaching (no teaching background for her). She teaches middle school, and was almost strangled by one of her students last year, among being repeatedly punched/etc during hallway transitions and in class. I can't believe she is going back for another year at this school. Maybe, like NYC teaching fellows, they need to place people solely in middle school (NYC teaching fellows places the majority of its math people in middle school, and I believe the trend is true for other subjects). That seems the roughest. So, like some have agreed but others not, some of the schools truly need these teachers to fill vacancies.

    Finally, I also noticed you were in Kentucky, especially after you said 30 TFAers were in your area. It is the first year of TFA in Appalachia aka Kentucky. Only 22 of the ones starting out even finished, the dropouts including the only two native Kentucky teachers (both from Appalachian KY themselves). I heard really good things about one of the math teachers, actually she went through a certification program somewhere down south for elementary, but is really embracing her high school math calling. You are right that they will not be fired, in fact they are probably going to expand this program rapidly over the next few years. It is less about a shortage and more about a "quality" problem, which is hilarious considering how much teaching TFA teachers have coming in. The quality is less about the teachers and more about test scores (low test scores). The problem is that there is a much bigger window for improvement in urban schools than rural schools - look at all of the charter schools' locations, look at the gains TFA makes in urban vs rural schools. I teach in a rural school, and basically I think it is a matter of "this life is good enough for my parents it is good enough for me" vs in the city where kids can see all of the flashy stuff they might get with an education. I don't have any other explanation for it, but it's ridiculously prevalent. The only rural schools that I see outperforming suburban schools are the tiny districts where high achievement has been around for a generation so THAT is the norm. I'm not sure how they got there, and it would be an excellent topic for a dissertation by someone in that area of research.

    I think another point of TFA is to increase competition amongs licensed teachers -- look at what New York and DC are like now compared to when TFA started. NYC had a hiring freeze until this summer and DC gets as many applications as its suburban counterparts do for jobs now. I think that is amazing. Like others have said, your SES should not determine your teacher's abilities, and there's no way to say it isn't if you're getting 1/2 as many applications in the city vs in the suburbs. I mean, what a better way to get teachers riled up than to bring in some rookie and have them outscore your class?

    I read this really interesting article on test scores/value added, they contrasted these two teachers - a veteran with all sorts of computer and media equipment, the typical happy sunshine elementary classroom, and then a rookie guy with barely any decorations... And of course his test scores were twice as good as hers. It makes you really rethink how you teach... How much of a difference are your classroom meetings making when half of your kids can't pass their math exam and similar kids in your neighbor's classroom can?

    Anyways, sorry this is so long I will wrap up... I am lucky right now that TFA does not exist in my state, but I think that some jobs they are taking away from teachers (like in KY), some jobs they are filling in public schools that have serious issues (like my friend I described), and I think they should continue putting their staff into charter schools and leave public schools that have candidates alone.
     
  16. TeachTN

    TeachTN Comrade

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    Aug 31, 2012

    I looked into this topic because I had to write something about Alternative Licensure for a grad course I am taking now. My husband is looking into alternative licensure for math and I looked at the program he is working with.

    He needs to have 24 hours of his content (math), which he will have at the end of this semester. He would be required to attend 12 days of training and then 40 hours of professional development the first year. There is nothing that states he needs to take education courses or Praxis tests.

    I can't imagine learning all that I learned in my teacher ed program and student teaching in just 12 days - it's impossible! He wouldn't have to student teach, he would just go into the classroom and have a mentor to help him for the first 25 days. Granted, he has me to help teach him about lesson plans, state standards, Common Core, etc, but I can't teach him how to teach math or necessarily how to differentiate instruction.

    I am not eligible for the program he is looking at because I already have a license, and it is only for math, science and foreign language. It was interesting to look more into a program other than Teach for America.
     
  17. treefrogs

    treefrogs Rookie

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    Aug 31, 2012

    Honestly, I think there are teaching styles that make you burn out. I mean look at the rate of people leaving education. I have amazing test scores in my current job. However, the amount of energy that I have put into teaching is unsustainable, and now it's expected that students will go up 4-5 grade levels in my class. Not to mention the state is still putting pressure on the school, they want more increases! I'm sorry I'm not Wonder-woman. :help: More pressure just makes me want to give-up. Anyway, a bit of a tangent.

    With TFA you may be able to use those burn-out styles and raise a few test scores on the short term. But, what kind of career is education? Pay tens of thousands for a degree, and burn out after a couple of years?

    I have four friends from college who went into TFA. All four couldn't find education jobs afterwords and switched career paths. (I don't know how hard all of them tried to get a job in education, all I know was it was easier to find other jobs.)
     
  18. justdot

    justdot Rookie

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    Sep 1, 2012

    -----------------------

    Is this a school in Los Angeles?
     
  19. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    No, justdot, not LA. If you look back a page or two, you'll see where Caesar is.
     
  20. gossamer

    gossamer Rookie

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    Sep 1, 2012

    Don't forget that TFA also pays off student loans. Most of the TFA's I know went into it for the student loan payoff. In Houston, most of our TFA's go to the KIPP schools.
     
  21. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Certainly it is easier to make progress on paper when you're starting from a lower point. TFA should stick to its publicized mission of providing enthusiastic "teachers" where they're needed. I don't believe this includes sending them to charter schools or suburban schools or even inner-city schools in some cases. Why not invest that money in recruiting college education students to consider a tougher teaching area?
     
  22. Rainbowbird

    Rainbowbird Groupie

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    Sep 1, 2012

    Maybe those classroom meetings made a difference in a child's life that can't be measured. And maybe those test scores aren't showing something vitally important: whether or not those children can think critically, or for that matter, are becoming excited, independent, and lifelong learners.
     
  23. Portulaca

    Portulaca Rookie

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    Sep 1, 2012

    When I was finishing up undergrad (2006ish) TFA was recruiting heavily at my college. I went to the recruitment events and considered applying, but ultimately decided to get my credentials post-bacc. (My school didn't offer undergrad degrees in education.) Anyway, one of my friends did go through the process, but was ultimately rejected while considerably less impressive candidates were accepted. That happens, of course, but we really were shocked because her credentials were absolutely stellar - great grades, super-warm personality, and an absolutely insane devotion to community service and social justice, including founding organizations and holding many, many of the leadership roles TFA prioritizes. Finally we figured out that the one unappealing thing about her, from a TFA perspective, was probably the 'motherliness' of her personality and the fact that many of her community service causes were of the so-called 'bleeding-heart' variety (hunger, homelessness, migrant worker living conditions, etc.) All that could be seen as a problem because TFA seemed to be looking for a rather militaristic ('shock troop,' to quote the HuffPo article cited above) demeanor. Overall, I think it makes sense (according to the logic of their mission) that the organization would view applicants who are involved in fighting poverty through means other than education with some suspicion because the TFA philosophy is that these are merely excuses for educational under-attainment. That belief certainly has some truth to it, in some cases, but like all over-simplistic beliefs it's ripe for abuse. I think that in the current political climate it's easy to use this type of attitude to demonize teachers who seem concerned with their students' emotional health, living conditions, and so on as soft people who are making excuses for their students - and more to the point, themselves - when the test scores come back lower than was wanted.

    Also, to address the discussion about what exactly the mission of TFA was...back when I was attending recruiting events I definitely never got the impression that TFA teachers were expected to stay in education afterwards, but rather to take their 'awareness' elsewhere. However, the norm at my university was to head to law school, med school, MBA programs, etc., after graduation, so maybe they tailored their message a bit depending on where they were recruiting.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2012
  24. mcqxu

    mcqxu Comrade

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    Sep 24, 2012

  25. TeachTN

    TeachTN Comrade

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    Sep 26, 2012

    I applied to TFA, made it to the phone interview stage so far, I think I find out next week or a little later if I made it to the in-person interview stage. I was shocked I made it to the phone stage, so I'd be even more shocked if I made it to the in-person interview stage.
     
  26. Momzoid

    Momzoid Companion

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    Sep 27, 2012

    Last week there was a reception for the forty TFAs in our system. The school board members were quoted as saying about how "young and fresh faced" these "teachers" were. Lots of praises were heaped on these "teachers". Apparently the rest of us don't matter.:(
     

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