Not only does former TFA corps member Olivia Blanchard maintain that the five-week training program fails to prepare recent college grads for the classroom management required to handle "a room of 20 unruly elementary-schoolers" in challenged schools, she goes on to compare TFA's laudable focus on "closing the achievement gap" to the same broken approach that led to the Atlanta Public Schools' widespread cheating scandal during her time in APS:
Teach for America cited the Atlanta scandal as a sad example of what is wrong with education's status quo, one of the many reasons America's schools need even more reform and innovation. But what occurred to me, as I worked my way, ill-prepared, through Atlanta Public Schools, was that the two systems are not as far apart as either might like to suggest. TFA is at least as enamored of numerical "data points" of success as APS is. TFA strongly encourages its teachers to base their classes' "big goals" around standardized-test scores. Past and present corps members are asked to stand to thunderous applause if their students have achieved some objectively impressive measure of achievement, and everyone knows that the best way to work for and rise through TFA ranks is to have a great elevator pitch about how your students' scores improved by X percent.
When the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Maureen Downey wrote last week about the current Atlanta school board race, she questioned whether the TFA experience held by four of the candidates running for district seats would help or hinder the board's future. In her piece, she cites critics who contend that TFA's long-term plan includes pushing for the privatization of public education and an increased emphasis on merit-based testing.
Blanchard draws her Atlantic piece to a close by dissecting the disconnect between "public ideals and [the] actual effectiveness" of both TFA and APS:
APS invests in beautiful new buildings and glossy public-relations messaging, only to pressure its teachers into pedagogical conformity that often prevents them from reaching the district's most remedial students. Likewise, TFA promotes a public image of eager high achievers dedicated to one mission, reaching "Big Goals" that pull students out of the achievement gap, where non-TFA teachers have let them fall. But in my experience, many if not most corps members are confused about their purpose, uncertain of their skills, and struggling to learn the basics.
The nearly 500 comments generated so far are about as divisive as Blanchard's recounting of the environment that unwittingly pit inexperienced TFA teachers against experienced non-TFA teachers. Check it out.
What many folks don't realize is the role that universal health coverage plays in reducing…
What? An honest man in the House? If this trend caught on how would we…
Mo gibs muh 'dat.
One step forward, two steps back.
Hey "Here's Your Editorial", what does Dale Earnhardt Junior have to do with this article?