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

Monday, August 23, 2010

TFA: Temps For African-American Children

Last updated 12:36 PM

In the poorest schools of America where the best, seasoned teachers are needed to teach children from malignantly neglected communities, we find concentrations of Teach for Awhile America's Tier 1 temps, fresh from their 5 week teacher preparation program and eager to learn to teach on the children of the poor.  When they finish their two year stint, most of the survivors will take their sterling resumes on to law school or business school, along with a lifetime indoctrination as "Corps Members"  into the unveiled mysteries of corporate education reform.

Some, in fact, will return after getting their MBAs to become KIPP CEOs, or principals as they were once called.  They will then lead other temps to become members of the total compliance sects that are viewed by conservatives and neolibs, alike, as the modern-day solution to the "Negro problem," as it was called back in the 19th Century when elites used similar measures to indoctrinate freed slaves to accept their second class status and to view slavery as the institution that had saved them from moral ruin (see James Anderson's book.

Would these Ivy League temps be acceptable teachers in the leafy suburbs?  Would soccer moms allow their Seths and Caitlins to be subjected to the mind-controlling charter work camps without libraries, art rooms, gyms, cafeterias, clinics?  You have got to be kidding, right? 

A couple of clips from WaPo:
. . . . "For inner-city kids, it's a huge disadvantage to have a teacher who doesn't know how to teach," Levine said. And even if the teachers rapidly improve, they just as rapidly quit. Almost half of Teach for America instructors leave the profession after their two-year commitment, according to a 2008 Harvard study. Such turnover, Levine said, "ensures a continuous array of rookies.". .  . .

. . . .In 2004, the Mathematica Policy Research group reported that students taught by Teach for America recruits topped their peers in math and equaled them in reading. Teach for America cites that study as evidence that its teachers don't need education school.

But researchers from the University of Texas and California State University reached a more skeptical conclusion after a review of almost two dozen studies. They reported in June that the evidence suggests that Teach for America recruits start at a disadvantage. After several years, they perform equal to or better than their peers, but they often leave the profession before the benefits of their experience can make an impact in the classroom.

The report also noted that school districts must spend more money on recruiting as a result of Teach for America's churn. In addition, the organization charges school districts an average of $2,500 for each teacher it provides, and districts spend extra money to train teachers once they arrive.

Some education school leaders say Teach for America sets its recruits up for a hard fall.

"They promote these corps members as adequate to the task of teaching in some of these most challenging assignments after just five weeks of training," said Sharon P. Robinson, president of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. "It creates a situation that will likely soon drive the passion out, in favor of 'How do you keep your head above the water?' " . . . .

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