When Teacher Training is Not Valued

Like a lot of ideas, Teach For America sounds good, but in actuality? Well, that’s a decision you would have to come to on your own.  As a nonprofit, TFA’s stated slogan is “One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.” Who could argue with that? 2014-11-25-lincoln-024

Creating a Peace Corps type model to work in the most needy of schools is a lofty and worthy goal. As a recently retired teacher from a school with a poverty rate hovering around 90%, I can assure you that teaching students from such backgrounds burns out even the most experienced. It is grueling, and it is exhilarating. Urban districts and other high-poverty districts need enthusiastic educators to reach students.

What I object to is the attitude that seems to indicate if one is a stellar graduate or undergraduate in a chosen major, then one can teach without much attention paid to the art of pedagogy.  I will come right out with it – I vehemently disagree. It is insulting to assume that, the process, the science, the art of teaching seems so unvalued. A search of TFA’s website shows a “training schedule” in the range of 4-6 weeks. From the perspective of a person who spent 4 years undergraduate, 1 year graduate, countless house in pre-practicums and observations, the message seems clear: anyone can teach and we’ll show you how in 6 weeks or less.

So why do I care? Well, recently I read a post on a professional list that I subscribe to indicating that the legislative aides of many of our members of Congress are TFA alumni. If that is true – currently I’m researching that using Members’ staff lists and Linkedin profiles – then it will be no wonder that educators and education are under-valued and looked down upon.

Stay tuned for future posts.

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2 thoughts on “When Teacher Training is Not Valued

  1. The politicians such as Frankin and Dean have children who have worked for TFA, and they favor charters and the union replacement operation TFA.

    1. What is a surprise to me, but maybe should not be, is that there seems to be a number of TFA alums advising legislators about ed policy. TFA certainly is entitled to their point of view whether or not I agree with it. It concerns me that the advisors have a very definite bias — and having said that, it is important for all educators to be sure to be actively involved in contacting Congress about ed issues.

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