"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, June 12, 2009

TFA - Playing by Different Rules

From Edweek.com:

N.C. District Lets Go of Veteran Teachers, But Keeps TFA Hires

Performance Trumps Seniority in Officials' Decisions

Faced with a yawning budget gap, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board last week approved plans to let go of hundreds of teachers, basing that decision on the teachers’ low performance on evaluations, rather than on their seniority.

Even more controversially, the 134,000-student North Carolina district granted an exemption to teachers hired through the Teach For America recruiting program who meet teaching standards over more-senior teachers, and it is poised to hire more TFA alumni.

Those decisions are raising the ire of local and national teachers’ groups and have reopened philosophical debates about the merits of the selective TFA program, which places top graduates in some of the nation’s most challenging schools.

“What message are you sending to a young person we need to keep in the profession who has no performance issues, who chose to become an educator ... to replace them with someone who’s had five weeks [of training] and didn’t choose education to begin with?” said Richard Miller, the deputy director of the North Carolina Association of Educators, an affiliate of the National Education Association.

The corporate education machine - backed by the same casino capitalists that just brought down the economy - loves TFA.  Jim Collins, a corporate researcher studying the collapse of Fannie Mae and Circuit City (both of which Collins once deemed remarkably successful companies) calls TFA founder Wendy Kopp the "entrepreneur of the decade."  But why did Fannie Mae and Circuit City fail?  From Collins (in a recent TIME article):

What happened in all the great companies that fell is they made a shift from a humble drive to an arrogance, the belief they somehow magically deserved all that success — "We're just really better than everybody else, and we always will be."  

Sure sounds like the modus operandi of TFA: we're better than everybody else because we went to Ivy League schools and scored high on standardized tests.  In particular, we're better than every trained educator even though we're armed solely with 5 weeks of training and our experience in America's opulent corporate class.  Sounds like a recipe for educational bankruptcy.  

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