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

Monday, October 19, 2009

Gates Funds Attitude Adjustment for Young Teachers

The Gates Foundation will be funding teacher development in Pittsburgh, a $6.5 million investment in an attitude adjustment for rookies expecting miracles and smooth sailing in their first year. First year teachers certainly deserve support, but to suggest that changing the "mindset" is a major part of the educational solution for minority children stuck in America's urban ghettoes is not only fallacious, but it's bound to lead to the burnout and dissatisfaction revealed in a study released today (also funded by Gates). But this change in mindset is the kind of stuff gobbled up by edu-idiots like Tom Vander Ark (yet another former Gates official), so-called educators believing "no excuses" pedagogical approaches, positive psychology, and higher standards are all our children need to succeed; forget poverty, forget the violence permeating and celebrated in American culture (and tacitly supported by the likes of Rev. Al Sharpton, who appeared on WWE to push his EEP agenda, just days after the brutal killing of Derrion Albert), forget about the lack of funding in public education, forget about the testing industry's stranglehold on curricula; those are problems Washington is unwilling to address, even with a black man in office. Those young teachers don't need small class sizes, high-intensity teacher preparation programs (instead of 5 week crash courses in educational maltreatment), nor cooperative learning environments: it's merit-pay, a mindset adjustment, and plenty of test prep. From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Pittsburgh Public Schools to train 1st-year teachers in new 'academy'

By Daveen Rae Kurutz

Monday, October 19, 2009

Even after an internship at Pittsburgh Fulton Academy, Merri Luna was nervous when she first stepped into a kindergarten classroom 12 years ago.

As a just-graduated teacher, Luna said she could have used more guidance during her first year on the job.

"I was definitely nervous and afraid," said Luna, who teaches third grade at Pittsburgh Lincoln. "I ended up really enjoying it. But walking in the door, it was a whole different experience."

Next fall, Pittsburgh Public Schools officials plan to open a program tentatively named The Academy for first-year teachers, akin to a residency program for doctors. A grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will pay the $6.5 million yearly cost for at least the first several years.

The program, part of an effort to increase teacher effectiveness, is expected to train about 100 teachers each year for the district, said John Tarka, president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.

"It is peculiar that you would take students right out of education school and plant them down in a classroom — 'Here's a classroom, here's your students, go at it,'" said Superintendent Mark Roosevelt. "They'll spend a period of time learning their craft in our district."

The district tried a similar initiative in the 1980s. New teachers could work with experienced teachers at three centers, learning classroom skills and about child development, but it folded because of lack of money.

Teachers at The Academy will learn classroom management, content and mindset, Tarka said. They will be assigned to an instructor who will oversee their classroom work and offer advice.

"A lot of teachers realize that it's not what they thought it would be, once they get into the classroom," Tarka said. "We want them to recognize how very important preparation is and that we're teaching a student body that is very diverse."

Students in urban settings often have needs different from those in suburban and rural schools, Roosevelt said.

"We need to do a far better job identifying what the belief system and mindsets of our teachers should be," Roosevelt said. "It's about looking at your classroom and believing ... that every one of these children can reach the standards."

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