Friday, June 27, 2008

Sam Singer: Where Teach for America goes wrong (And Troops to Teachers gets right)

Sam Singer: Where Teach for America goes wrong - Opinion

Well crap, this 21 year old kid hits the nail right on the head.

Proponents claim that little by little, Teach for America can change this. That by enlisting only the academic elite - corps members carry top-tier credentials, and studies show them to be more effective than permanent faculty at participating schools - Teach for America is cultivating a commitment to public service and education among some of the brightest minds of our generation.

But hold your applause: According to The New York Times, of the trifle more than half of participants that actually remain in education, most do so in an administrative capacity. Turns out Teach for America hatches superintendents and curriculum planners far more frequently than it does teachers. If these numbers are on target, this isn't a teacher training corps - it's an incubator for would-be deans and well-rounded law students. [emphasis mine]
He forgot to mention that TFA is also good for producing bloggers, books, and charter school systems, but he still nails it though. His best line, though, is this:

Any grandeur that primary education had left was lost the moment we forced trained professionals to share faculty lounges with unseasoned college grads, many of who finished their final semesters with blood-alcohol contents that rivaled their grade point averages.
I might take issue with the term "trained professionals", but you get his point.

And just to add a comparison to Sam's first point:

According to the latest performance report from the Department of Education, the percentage of Troops to Teachers participants who remain in teaching for three or more years after placement in a teaching position in a high-need school is 88% for 2005, and 84% for 2006.

Once again, I think it's safe to say that TTT beats TFA.

Of course you don't see the NY Times or any other major newspapers writing semiannual puff pieces on Troops-to-Teachers.