I have survived the Bloomberg pogrom. However, our union is allowing the DOE a second chance to punish me.
Friday, January 11, 2013
But Can They Teach?
It is interesting how education reformers praise Teach for America (TFA) which brings graduates from the top colleges to teach in high poverty areas, including New York City. However, in the next breath these same reformers complain that many of these very same high poverty schools have the most teachers rated "unsatisfactory". I would not be surprised that an analysis would show that many of the "unsatisfactory" teachers were TFA teachers. Moreover, the combination of TFA teachers with "Leadership Academy Principals" is a recipe for disaster and I wouldn't be surprised if a closer look at these schools showed just that.
Many of the TFA teachers last just two years and use their limited teaching experience to "jump start" their career in business, law, or Administration. They are increasingly looked at as "temporary teachers" and never gain the necessary experience to obtain the curriculum knowledge and classroom management skills to gain tenure or spend enough time in the classroom to be considered a "great teacher". Examples of this are found in the leaders of the "Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) organization, founded by Bill Gates, and other hedge fund managers. These "fifth columnists" seem to move out of the classroom as quickly as possible and many are not even there long enough to be granted tenure. However, this does not stop them from claiming how they know what is best for our schools and students. What a joke! In New York City these TFA graduates obtain all, of seven weeks of training and nobody, except for Mayor Bloomberg and his poodle, Chancellor Walcott, really believe they make a difference. We all know they are simply warm bodies to throw in front of a classroom with a low enough salary that principals could afford on their tight budgets.
Schools with large amount of TFA teachers are unstable and provide no lasting academic impact on the community and their children. The constant teacher turnover makes it virtually impossible for students to thrive in such an unstable school environment. In fact, one outstanding educator who is known to favor issues advocated by the education reform movement has now realized that the TFA with its temporary teacher turnover is "the problem and not the solution" when it comes to raising the academic achievement of high poverty schools.
Teaching is as much an art as it is a skill . While, I do not question the intelligence of these TFA teachers, I will say this it takes anywhere between three and eight years to gain teaching mastery in the classroom. Since these teachers spend three or less years in the classroom, they never achieve mastory in the classroom and never will become the "great teachers" that the education reformers claim they want.
The question we should be asking to the TFA teachers is "but can you teach for the long term and make a difference"? It appears, for the most part, the answer is a resounding no!