SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Deconstructing Wendy Kopp

Monday, July 12, 2010

Deconstructing Wendy Kopp

It is so unfair. I mean it really is. It has to stop. I like a challenge. I mean, who doesn't. But ever time a newspaper runs a puff piece on an education deformer it's like shooting fish in a barrel.

The most recent puff piece came in the Wall Street Journal this past Saturday. It was all about how wonderful the reporter Naomi Schaefer and Wendy Kopp of Teach for America think Wendy is. Let's have a looksee.

In the spring of 1989 Wendy Kopp was a senior at Princeton University who had her sights set on being a New York City school teacher. But without a graduate degree in education or a traditional teacher certification, it was nearly impossible to break into the system.

ROTFLMFAO!!! This is such, such....gibberish. In 1989 you didn't need a background or degree in education to become a teacher in NYC. You applied and became a PPT, which I forgot which it stood for. The state and the city gave you five years to get your masters. It wasn't nearly impossible. It was quite possible.

Their 46,000 applicants included 12% of all Ivy League seniors, 7% of the graduating class of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and 6% from U.C. Berkeley. A quarter of all black seniors at Ivy League schools and a fifth of Latinos applied to be teachers in the 2010 corps.

So we can just count with the information given is that 25 percent of elites applied for TFA. By the way, would love to see the numbers of blacks and latinos that got accepted into TFA.

Today, Ms. Kopp has a much better understanding of why investment banks and consulting firms were knocking on the doors of her Princeton classmates but public schools didn't bother.

Follow the money.

"is that 20 years ago most of our school systems were thinking that recruiting teachers was not their responsibility. They were thinking that was the responsibility of schools of education. So you had one set of institutions that was responsible for training teachers and another set responsible for actually affecting student achievement results."

Wait, school districts do not recruit teachers? What exactly do you mean by recruiting? I read ads, see online postings for teaching jobs all the time.

The young men and women who join TFA go through an intensive summer institute of training before they step foot in their schools. TFA gives them support and more training.

So in eight weeks a person is ready to teach? I think potential McDonalds managers stay longer at Hamburger University. Wow, more training and support? Why can't regular teachers be entitled to such?

Ms. Kopp said she first became aware of the educational inequities in America during college. She watched her roommate—a "brilliant first-generation college student from the Bronx"—struggle with her schoolwork. Meanwhile, students who had attended "East Coast prep schools . . . thought Princeton was a cakewalk," she recalls

Maybe, just maybe your roommate from the Bronx couldn't afford a prep school? Wendy, we all don't have trust funds.

TFA's fundamental premise is that a child's home life and socioeconomic status need not doom him or her to educational failure. "There is a perception in our communities that we have low educational outcomes in low-income communities because kids aren't motivated or families don't care. We've discovered that is not the case," says Ms. Kopp.

No it shouldn't doom them. But it does not make it easier. And yes Virginia, it is not a perception that kids aren't motivated or families don't care. The pull of the street is real.

TFA released "Teaching as Leadership: The Highly Effective Teacher's Guide to Closing the Achievement Gap," which shares the practices of teachers who have made significant gains with students. One chart explains why teachers should choose an objective like "The student will be able to order fractions with different denominators," rather than "The teacher will present a lesson on ordering fractions with different denominations."

Where is that done, "the teacher will present?" Where? It is a fallacy.

Given that the Peace Corps gets $350 million, Ms. Kopp suggests "this seems like a no-brainer . . . particularly given that TFA has proven results and is so heavily aligned with the federal agenda around education." But so far, TFA has a big zero next to it in President Obama's budget. Almost no Republicans have signed on to support it because of budget deficit concerns.

Where are the proven results by an independent entity? Let's keep that zero in the budget!!

That's it. I am getting sick. I just wanted to discuss what really stood out to me. Besides so much is missing in this article. Like why so many leave TFA after the three year commitment and why Wendy Kopp feels the need to pay herself a $268K salary.


Anonymous said...

I fear the fact that you are a teacher based on the sheer number of typos in your blog, including you're title. It is a "teacher's take on the world" not a "teachers take".

Anonymous said...

Haha anonymous! When you criticize someone else you should be correct in "you're" own grammar in reply. Dick. Nitpicking on typos is weak, as long as you get what the person is saying who cares? You must pull your hair out when you hear homey slang.

Anonymous said...

You need to fact check this article. Institute is five weeks and the commitment to TFA is 2 years.

Anonymous said...

"... 12% of all Ivy League seniors, 7% of the graduating class of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and 6% from U.C. Berkeley ..."

This doesn't imply (in fact it disproves) that 25% of elite-school seniors (reasonably assuming the elite is sufficiently sampled above) applied for TFA.

I hate to say it, but the fallacy involves adding fractions with different denominators!