What is the agenda of Teach For America?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Tyler B., May 5, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2012
    Messages:
    1,600
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 9, 2012

    I don't think there are enough qualified teachers in certain subjects areas (physics, for example) to teach in certain schools. I think TFA can help in these situations, but NOT if there are qualified applicants.
     
  2. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,788
    Likes Received:
    251

    May 9, 2012

    It would interesting to see stats on how many TFA candidates found jobs in schools with 0 additional applicants for those positions, or in districts with no layoffs.
     
  3. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    6,156
    Likes Received:
    993

    May 9, 2012

    One of my friends is teaching 2nd grade for TFA in Kentucky. I have heard that their job market is much better than ours (I'm from OH) but I sincerely doubt that they couldn't find someone to take a 2nd grade position. I graduated with many high quality candidates who would give anything for an opportunity like that.
     
  4. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2012
    Messages:
    1,600
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 9, 2012

    This is the kind of situation that I find completely unfair.
     
  5. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2009
    Messages:
    1,091
    Likes Received:
    1

    May 9, 2012

    I know a teacher (met him at a professional development) that was born in the Mississippi Delta. He told me Teach For America had taken his job. He said they are paid less. He was very bitter. I don't know if this is true or what subject he taught. I would certainly hope it is not true. But with the state of things in the Delta, one has to wonder:( Prehaps, there are some teachers on this site from the Delta? I would be interested to know their thoughts.
     
  6. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,019
    Likes Received:
    19

    May 9, 2012

    I've posted this in a similar thread, but it's relevant. My district has laid off a multitude of elementary teachers over the past few years. And, when there are positions open, the HR site says "internal candidates" which means they are not taking oustside applications. BUT, when I was at HR signing my contract (2 summers ago) I was in the waiting room with at least 15 TofA beginners who were signing their paperwork to teach elementary.

    This makes me very suspicious of the relationship between districts and TofA.
     
  7. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Messages:
    2,841
    Likes Received:
    319

    May 9, 2012

    I agree that many positions in the "TFA quota" could be filled by regular certified teachers, however it is true that some places are just undesirable. My school has had a 70% turnover of staff this year. The TFA teachers come in understanding that the schools they work in are challenged, and they often have the drive to make them better, even if they're only there a short time.

    It's no different from some salty teacher coming to work at my school because she couldn't get a job in the suburbs. She's going to leave in 2 years too.....would you prefer an enthusiastic TFA candidate for 2 years or someone who's just trying to look competitive for other districts? :dunno:
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    6,156
    Likes Received:
    993

    May 9, 2012

    I've heard conflicting reports on how they're paid. Some people have said they do get paid less, which is why districts fill positions with them. However, someone posted an article here on another TFA thread that said that districts actually have to pay MORE for a TFA candidate b/c they have to pay something like 2k extra directly to the TFA organization?
     
  9. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

    Joined:
    May 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,592
    Likes Received:
    4

    May 10, 2012

    TfA if I remember correctly is paid the normal stipend for AmeriCorps and then the district pays the difference between the AmeriCorps stipend and the district's first year teacher pay. I believe the district does not need to count the columns for TfAs in the step and column. So a TfA teacher who had attended 60 units of post bacclaureate work in college would not be paid that wage; however a TfA member who had done no post bacclaureate work would be paid at the lowest column which shows an assumption of post bacclaureate work.

    An AmeriCorps stipend if once again I remember correctly is minimum wage for a certain sum of hours worked, if you work more too bad. AmeriCorps also provides a stipend for college for each year served. When I participated in VISTA it was 4000.00 or something like that. it might have even been more. Two years of it almost completely paid a year's tuition at a private university. The main difference between VISTA and AmeriCorps is VISTA is considered volunteering because the pay is under minimum wage and AmeriCorps was minimum wage so it is considered work although low paid.

    So the other thing not mentioned in TfA is it provides money for those participants to return to graduate school after participating. This encourages them to go do something besides stay at the school they are working at.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    May 10, 2012

    For starters, let me reiterate that I have absolutely no experience with TFA. The majority of what I know about it I've learned here.

    But it seems to me that that's the worst possible combination: take your most challenging schools and put your least experienced, least perpared teachers into them. Don't the kids in those most challenging schools deserve teachers who have more than a few weeks of preparation?

    If there were no TFA, wouldn't those schools and districts be forced to somehow FIND qualified teachers? To sweeten the pot in whatever means necessary in order to put a qualified professional into the classroom?

    Kids in high poverty areas, fighting drug and gang influences-- they're going to be a challenge for any teacher. But put a teacher in the room who has had a few WEEKs of preparation seems to say to me that we've given up on those kids.

    Enthusiasm is great. But I don't think it can take the place of training. Give those same enthusiastic teachers a few years of training, THEN put them into those same classrooms, and give those kids (and teachers) a fighting chance.
     
  11. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2011
    Messages:
    748
    Likes Received:
    144

    May 10, 2012

    Alice, excellent points - Yes, the kids deserve the best possible teachers and the best possible schools. However, do the type of schools we are talking about have the type of resources (and resolve) available to sweeten the pot as you suggest? And, I might add, I think it takes more than salary to sweeten the pot - in most cases the entire environment (physical and social) would have to be severely overhauled to attract the best teachers. I know that $ alone would not suffice to attract me to a "sick" school (not suggesting that I am a "best teacher" btw). Work environment is very critical to me in job selection.
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    May 10, 2012

    But those same people who would be willing to work in those same schools with TFA would have so much more success with training. The schools just need to feed into whatever TFA does in terms of channelling that enthusiasm.
     
  13. KateL

    KateL Habitué

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    Messages:
    810
    Likes Received:
    2

    May 10, 2012

    But haven't we agreed on here before that most of a teacher's training happens on the job and that theory classes are largely useless? If that's true, then TFA is on the right track as far as teacher training is concerned.
     
  14. cult

    cult Rookie

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2009
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 10, 2012

    TFA in my humble opinion is about a) cheap labor and b) demeaning the teaching profession to advance privatization of public schools nationwide via charters. It guarantees an entry level (low paid) teaching force in hard to staff schools wracked by poverty and crime. There's a reason TFA is only found in inner city areas. Affluent districts have no need of their services.

    I graduated from an open admissions college, meaning all you have to do to get in is graduate HS. You don't even have to take the ACT! TFA is actively recruiting teaching candidates from this non-selective school. So much for best and brightest and highly selective!

    Some TFA teachers are great people and wonderful teachers. I've worked with a bunch the last two years. I would even go so far as to say a few of them were the best teachers in our building. But that doesn't change the fact that TFA does a great deal of harm to the profession in general and in the case of weaker teachers, the students they are teaching.
     
  15. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2012
    Messages:
    1,600
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 10, 2012

    Wow, this is very surprising to me.

    I thought it TFA is a very difficult program to get into and that the majority of the students accepted were from very prestigious colleges and universities.
     
  16. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,379
    Likes Received:
    549

    May 10, 2012

    I have two former students in TFA. Both are highly committed, eager people. One was pre-med at an Ivy League, the other is from a non-selective school.

    The first one is now done. She told me she put in far more hours and cared more deeply for the students than the "slacker" teachers around her. She also said her first year was a waste since she didn't really know how to teach. Her bottom line on TFA is a feeling of ambivilance.

    I think our poorest deserve great, well-trained teachers. To accomplish this, I'd like to see a special credential for super-trained teachers who make more money than regular teachers. Low income schools should forced to hire a certain percentage of these well-trained teachers.





    Favorite Teacher Blogs:
    http://ed-is-life.blogspot.com/ and http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
     
  17. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    6,156
    Likes Received:
    993

    May 10, 2012

    We did the math in another TFA thread awhile ago, and it came out that they actually accept about 1 out of every 8 candidates. MUCH better chances than any other job I've heard. None of the people I know that are in came from "prestigious" universities, and one of them I know for a fact was a C average student.
     
  18. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,788
    Likes Received:
    251

    May 10, 2012

    I'd agree that a good amount happens on the job, but - in a good teacher prep program - a good amount can happen with 2-4 years of really good instruction in training, particularly in laying foundations for technical skills such as those now needed to meaningfully participate in RtI.
     
  19. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    3,426
    Likes Received:
    601

    May 10, 2012

    I agree. There is no way I could have learned in a few weeks what I learned over the course of 4.5 years in my degree program. My program was set up so that we got our AA in two years (including summers.) I went an extra half a year to add on the courses for my CDA, since I was working at a preschool. Then I started my education degree, and earned my BS in two years, including the summer. My degree was in Elementary Ed with ESOL and Reading endorsements infused. It was like teacher bootcamp. We completed a total of 250 clinical hours in a classroom in addition to a 15 week, full-time internship. For the first two years our hours were observing and working with small groups, and for the last two years we added new responsibilities each course. Many of our classes were taught by classroom teachers, and we had a weekend Kagan workshop at a Kagan training center built into our program. There's no way a few weeks could have made me as well-prepared.
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    May 10, 2012

    When did we agree that?

    I think most of us would agree that teacher training programs need to be improved, not eliminated. I think that the value of observing classes, of student teaching with a cooperating teacher as a safety net is huge.

    I wouldn't begin to suggest that the way to make strong, competant teachers is to throw them in cold, or practically cold, particularly to the types of schools we're talking about. Rather, I would be in favor of a lot more field work.
     
  21. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,799
    Likes Received:
    1,167

    May 10, 2012

    I think there's also something to be said for the model in which one majors in something that isn't education - because all teachers, of whatever subject, need to know what it is like to know and express content at bachelor's-degree depth and breadth - and then spends a highly focused year-plus learning how to teach, followed by good mentoring. That is, I believe, the intent of the model in California, with its fifth-year credential programs; the fact that the reality falls short of the ideal more often than it should is properly a failure of implementation rather than a fatal flaw in the concept.
     
  22. KateL

    KateL Habitué

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    Messages:
    810
    Likes Received:
    2

    May 10, 2012

    I think that TFA gets a lot more things right than many traditional ed school programs do. So much of what I learned in my credentialing classes was just common sense or completely useless in the classroom, and mine was a shortened online program! I can't imagine all the nonsense that goes in in a 4-year undergrad program. TFA covers the basics in their 5-week summer program, and then they continue with classes throughout the year. They also do a good job of mentoring, and of forming a tight cohort of teachers who feel supported. There are many worse ways to prepare teachers.
     
  23. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    3,426
    Likes Received:
    601

    May 10, 2012

    That also makes sense, though I think it would work better for middle grades and high school teachers. Similarly, I think that TFA would be great if it was taking students with a degree in English and having them teach English in a high school.

    One of my TFA friends has a degree in journalism and currently teaches 1st grade. I had to teach her about phonics and how to teach math. I mean obviously she can read and count, but had no clue how to teach a 1st grade student, much less a room full of them, to read and count. Put her in front of a high school journalism class, and she would be excellent, but she is miserable teaching elementary because she is so out of her element.
     
  24. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    Messages:
    6,156
    Likes Received:
    993

    May 10, 2012

    My 4 year teacher prep program was excellent. I spent a lot of time in classrooms planning and implementing my own lessons starting freshman year. I did a five week placement my freshman year in 2nd grade as my first ever teaching experience in a school setting. I was very passionate, enthusiastic, and all of that good stuff. I cannot imagine what kind of teacher I would have been though if I would have stopped at that one class and my 5 weeks in 2nd grade. We did actual teaching every semester, which after that first basic experience freshman year was at least 2 hours a day, 4 days per week, for 12 weeks each semester. We would observe for a day or two and then take over for one or two subjects. I taught every grade level in my licensure at least once in urban, suburban, and rural schools. When it came time for student teaching, I taught for an entire year where I was 100% in charge for the vast majority of the year. My classes focused very little on philosophy, other than my intro to ed class- but that just one class. After that it was all practical stuff based on the field experiences we were doing at the time in the schools.
     
  25. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

    Joined:
    May 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,592
    Likes Received:
    4

    May 10, 2012

    I found the credential program I went to to be excellent also. I did a masters and a credential over two years. I also did the method of first majoring in something different and then the fifth year and sixth year studying education. I remember it taking a while just to get a solid understanding of the various developmental theories we were studying. The lack of knowledge I would have had with five weeks would have been so profound I would not have even been able to even recognize my lack of knowledge.

    I guess that is what worries me about low quality teacher education programs as well as the TfA training is that. If you only have the tip of the iceberg and you do not know you are on an iceberg how will you even know you don't know about the iceberg. It would take years of personal research and dedication to hunting down the information on my spare time to back log on my own the information provided to me by the program I studied, all this done without know what I am looking for.

    As an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer I worked in one of the places that preaches the propaganda about the lack of care the children receive in the schools and how we can rescue the children. As well as about the failing education program. I worked in the inner city schools for a very short time before figuring out the children and their families actually and very reasonably find it insulting and demeaning if you think you are there to rescue them. I also figured out the teachers who worked in those schools worked their butts off while having minimal support.

    It takes very little research to find out what a load of BS the claim of how our education program is steadily getting worse. So the founder of TfA is banking on a lie and using the lie to make millions on the backs of the most needy American citizens, how nice.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. miss-m,
  2. mohammadnd
Total: 208 (members: 2, guests: 189, robots: 17)
test