Thursday, December 15, 2011

Teach For America spin

“… The goals of corporate reform are privatization and deprofessionalization.
By deprofessionalization I mean that it is the idea that anyone can teach.  You
don’t need any particular credentials or training – just maybe five or so weeks
and you are a teacher. Sometimes not even that – just fill out the papers …”
Diane Ravitch – February 24, 20110.

At the Board Briefing two weeks ago I requested that the Teach For America item be pulled for a separate vote.

Since Trustees Lew Blackburn, Bernadette Nutall and Mike Morath recently supported another policy change requiring two Trustees to pull an item for a separate vote, I did not expect this item to be pulled.  I was prepared to vote against the consent agenda - if necessary - or abstain. 

The price of such a policy is that Trustees can play games.  Anything on the consent agenda does not reflect a specific vote; Trustees can claim they voted for the consent agenda as a whole, not the specific item of public interest. They can even claim unanimous support because the item was on the consent agenda.

Such policies undermine democracy.

Each elected Trustee represents over 100,000 citizens.  Individual members of the Dallas City Council can pull an item for a separate vote.  Individual members of Dallas County Commissioners Court can pull an item for a separate vote. But not individual Dallas ISD Trustees - we cannot pull an item of public interest to the citizens who elected us.

Be careful who you trust with power.  People get in positions of power and set things up to exclude the public interest. They set things up for their self-interest.

Teach For America (TFA) has become a part of the top down corporate reform movement that is destroying public education.  Study after study has documented the failures of the top-down corporate approach to so-called education reform.

Teach for America is not an education reform - it is a part of the political movement of education toward private entrepreneurship and increasing control of education by private groups.

The highest performing education system in the world (Finland) doesn't use Teach for America type programs. Neither does Highland Park ISD.

Students from Finland outperform peers in 43 other nations – including the United States, Germany and Japan – in mathematics, science and reading skills. There are no yearly mandatory tests or exams. They have invested in the teaching profession as a career. 

I have no interest in the current corporate privatization model of public education.

The spin is that TFA teachers perform better than regular alternative certification teachers.  Anybody who knows anything about education at all knows that teaching is a career not an experiment in first year test taking in two subjects.

Give our other first year alternatively certified teachers the same $30,000.00 of first year training received by each Teach for America recruit from private sources and there would be no spin possible. 

I would rather spend the funds on developing good training for our own first year teachers who intend to make teaching a career.

As was stated elsewhere:

"I do not defend the current trend of sending recent college grads with just five weeks’ training and just a two-year commitment to teach in our nation’s most struggling schools which already suffer from high teacher turnover. But that is the model for  Teach for America, Inc. a multimillion-dollar enterprise that is now funded by the Obama government to the tune of $50 million-plus and is arguably de-professionalizing the teaching profession.

Five weeks training does not make these uncredentialed grads “highly qualified,” despite the recent shenanigans by Congress."

See More Here

Looking Past The Spin: Teach For America

"What I have come to appreciate is that things that matter take time. We live in an era when it is rare to meet people in their 20s and 30s who have stayed with something for more than a few years. And certainly, in some cases the right thing is to experiment and move on. But in many cases, the right thing is to stay with something, internalize tough lessons, and push yourself to new levels of knowledge and responsibility. Deep and widespread change comes from sticking with things."
-Wendy Koop-TFA Founder

 The Lesson: High Stakes Testing = Mis-Education