SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Teach For America Slip Is Starting To Show

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Teach For America Slip Is Starting To Show

Interesting column today by Valerie Strauss today in the Washington Post. Seems the sheen is off the KIPP apple. Oh, that's is just a shame. But let's give credit where credit is due. I give plenty of credit to Valerie Strauss for lifting up the KIPP rock and exposing what we all knew was under it.

An independent study was conducted by Assistant Professor Julian Vasquez Heilig of the University of Texas at Austin and Assistant Professor Su Jin Jez of California State University at Sacramento. Their studies found, and this was reported by Valerie Strauss, many things. Including;

More than 50 percent of Teach for America teachers leave after two years and more than 80 percent leave after three years.

This is obvious. I mean TFAer's are only in it for themselves. To receive a free masters degree and to, in their own warped way, make a difference for all the little boys and girls of color.

Teach for America proponents say that the program is aimed not only at supplying teachers to needy schools but also improving the teacher labor supply and shaping individuals who will care about education in their future jobs on Wall Street, in Washington, or elsewhere outside the classroom.

I call bullocks!!! This line is so bogus; "...and shaping individuals who will care about education in their future jobs on Wall Street, in Washington, or elsewhere outside the classroom." Please. Not true. They do it because it looks good on a resume.

Most studies find that those Teach for America teachers who stay long enough to become fully credentialed (typically after two years) appear to do about as well as other similarly experienced cedentialed teachers in teaching reading, and do as well as, and sometimes better than, a comparison group in teaching math.

This is because they age. Because as they stay longer they get married, have families, have lives. Of course it is nice to have a 23 year old teacher that is unencumbered by spouses and children. They can devote all their time, except the drinking and partying, to education. Much as all teachers were able to do before they were in similar situations. Sorry, family always should and does come first.

The analysis concludes that proponents who see the program as providing urban and rural schools with “outstanding recent college graduates,” and opponents who see it as only a short-term remedy that “may not even be better than what it aims to fix” are both correct. It says:

“The studies reviewed in the previous section indicate that, in the short-term, when compared to other underprepared teachers hired into many high-need schools, they may compete well with similarly trained and situated non-TFA teachers (even if just marginally better and only in mathematics)."

This cracks me up. Doesn't seem to matter. But as Strauss pointed out at the beginning of her column; The recruits (TFA) are recent graduates from elite colleges...

So what is an elite college? Only elitists can work as a TFAer? What about a graduate at the top of their class from SUNY-Geneseo, or SUNY-New Paltz? Do these students have what it takes to be in TFA?

One conclusion that is spot on and perhaps Bill Gates should take to heart is, "Invest strategically in evidence-based educational reform options that build long-term capacity in schools." See the key words there? "Evidence-based" This means something that is know to work. Not something on a whim whilst on the toilet.

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