From the Mailbag: Teach For America Defector Speaks
There is a growing crescendo in support and opposition of Teach For America from its alumni base. For all of Cloaking Inequity’s posts on Teach For America go here. Also see my piece in the New York Times on Teach For America here.
In the first, it was announced that the Walton Foundation was going to provide funding to hire 700 more rookie TFA teachers to put in front of poor and minority (although this word is now a misnomer in California, Texas, New Mexico etc.) kids in LA.
In the second he relates:
…Some former participants and academics, among others, have recently accused the Peace Corps-like organization of taking sides in the education policy wars. They criticize the nonprofit for aligning too closely with its largest private donors and high-profile alumni who have gone into politics. They say the group has diverged too far from a core mission: addressing a teacher shortage with top college grads primed to inject energy and success into low-income, urban campuses.
Tongue-in-cheek education blogger Russo sardonically (I believe) said this. Russo, in case you care what a extensive review of peer-reviewed research says on TFA go here. Of note, we will release a new NEPC TFA brief in the next few months.
I have also written extensively here on Cloaking Inequity about the budding TFA Civil War.
This morning I recieved this comment to a prior post LA and the Recovery School District approach (SB1718): A P.T. Barnum Circus. (Its a good read about the situation in NOLA.) In this morning’s comment, a TFA defector speaks out about his/her intentions and opinions about TFA. I have bumped the comment to this post. WIthout further ado.
TFA assigned me to the Baton Rouge Recovery School District where I unwittingly found myself in a circus. I quit this year and I do not regret the decision for a second. My main concerns were rampant administrative careerism, suspect parenting, worthless teacher evaluations, and empty TFA rhetoric.
Principals and assistant principals routinely keep violent and disruptive children in school because they want to keep their suspension rates low. On paper it looks like they have a school under control, but the reality is much different. Administrators don’t care though. They only want to propel themselves into ever more cushy, higher paying jobs.
Many of the parents aren’t much better. I can’t blame them however. Many of the parents graduated from the same schools their children attend. They live in the same terrible neighborhoods fostering morality and values not conducive to academic success. Some parents teach their children that it’s ok to fight in school. They tell them it’s ok to disrespect and disregard the teacher. Calling one of those parents about a child’s behavior is useless. In many cases, the parents are just as ignorant and ill-mannered as their children. In fact, some of the parents want their children to act out. That unscrupulous few want government checks for medication they only give the kids at night when they are with the parents (if they actually buy the medication at all). Trust me, a lot of those parents know their children are rotten. They don’t know what to do with them, so they keep them medicated and/or in front of the television. It only takes about five unruly children to destroy the learning environment. You can bet your life there are at least five in every TFA classroom.
The worst aspect of it though is the push toward teacher accountability. Principals fire teachers year after year to give the appearance they are doing something. Teachers are unreasonably held accountable for student behavior and test scores, as if a teacher can force a student to pay attention, do their class work, do their homework and study. That reality doesn’t matter. Principals just issue more and more edicts for students to remain “engaged.” To do this, principals and learning coaches suggest nothing more than a stage show. New observation protocols require a certain teacher performance rather than actual learning. How can a teacher be “effective” when the majority of the students fail? Just “teach” the way they want you to. You will be deemed “effective.”
TFA plays right along. They constantly tell stories about miracle working teachers. The rub is you never actually meet those miracle workers or see any evidence of their success. It’s just one unverifiable anecdote after the next. YOU are the problem if you can’t do the same.
I did not believe those lies for one second, so I left. The careerism, suspect parenting, punitive “teacher accountability” protocols, and empty rhetoric led me to get out. I could no longer delay law school attendance to be a part of what is essentially a charade. Do yourself a favor and avoid Teach for America.
Signed, Glad to be Gone
So what do you think about this aside?
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