The Nation Storified: This Is What Happens When You Criticize @TeachForAmerica
The Nation released a brilliant piece exposing how Teach For America spends millions to silence critiques of the organization by its alums and others. Below I have included selected Twitter quotes and photos from excellent investigative report by George Joseph on Storify. Twitter blasts usually get lost in the annals of Twitter history— so I turn to Storify to log the conversation. What is Storify? It “helps making sense of what people post on social media.” Users curate voices and turn them into stories.
Click the link below to follow The Nation’s storified Teach For America. It’s worth the click and is a quick read. Enjoy.
For all of Cloaking Inequity’s posts on Teach For America click here.
If you have a moment, read “Teach For America: Do Gooders or School Rhee-formers?” in the California Educator October 2014 issue. Check out the side bar “How Effective is TFA?”
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I think the CTA article is a good read, but I also highly recommend this commentary on it from my old union president: http://34justice.com/2014/11/02/tfa-cta-and-what-it-means-to-be-a-union/. I’d be interested in your thoughts on it, Julian. Also, I’d be very curious in your thoughts about the following segment from a piece I wrote last year on TFA (http://34justice.com/2013/11/08/working-together-for-educational-equity-whats-missing-from-the-tfa-debate/):
“Are TFA teachers prepared for their teaching assignments?
The short answer to this question is no…TFA’s summer Institute, besides being short and often unrelated to a teacher’s upcoming teaching assignment, focuses far too much on theory and vision and far too little on tangible skills. However, criticisms of TFA along these lines are, as another alum puts it, “a moot point” – nobody does a particularly good job preparing first-year teachers for assignments in low-income neighborhoods. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, nearly all the evidence suggests that there is very little, if any, difference, on average, between the standardized test results of students who have had TFA teachers and students who have had teachers with different backgrounds…it’s hard to indict TFA for putting poorly prepared teachers in schools unless you indict every single teacher preparation program for the same fault. I actually believe both traditional teacher preparation programs and TFA’s program (which is very similar in content to traditional programs) could improve significantly, but my point is that this critique is not valid when used to compare TFA to other programs.”
The caveats are that standardized test scores don’t capture teacher effectiveness the way we’d like and so provide only a rudimentary look at effectiveness, but I do think this point is important to note when discussing TFA’s training.
That said, I agree that TFA often distorts the data about itself and think they should spend a lot more time fixing issues than on PR campaigns.
In Honor of Dr. Wilma Longstreet:
I’ve had an interest in, studied and followed the “privatized” movements in America for years. The theoretical underpinning of privatization is the illusion that “private” means greater efficiency and choice. Even when the taxpayer is responsible for the cost, if he or she is convinced the delivery of the service is more efficient then it’s politically more salient- which is obvious. Its been a campaign theme, particularly with conservatives and libertarians, and now our President has tried to embrace the idea with his affordable health care law. In this case Teach for America is a “privatized” version of the original “National Teacher Corps” (short lived) in which I participated in during the 60s and which was part of Johnson’s, “War On Poverty” much maligned by privatization advocates. When I completed my thesis on “school choice” in 1986 a very wise professor and author on educational history and foundations – Dr. Wilma Longstreet, raised concerns about the issues of and potentials for “false advertising” and “false promotion” and too many resources being put into those endeavors. With NPRs expose’ today on the American Red Cross in relation to its response with Hurricane Sandy and with this expose’ on TFA, I’m thinking Dr. Longstreet was certainly wise to raise such questions as I attempted to defend my thesis.