As Darryl Willie has already been pushing a return of teach for America to Duval County Public schools I think we need a reminder of why this is such a terrible idea.
Teach for America is a dreadful program and let me explain why.
First you have to separate yourself from the program and the teacher. Anybody whether they are a college of ed grad, a business person starting a second career or a TFA teacher deserves respect and support for showing up. It’s the program not the individual teachers that is dreadful.
What would you tell me if I came to you with the following plan.
Okay here is the plan, let’s take recent college grads, most won’t be education majors but that’s okay, because we will put them through a five-week teacher boot camp. Then we will put them in our neediest schools where they are supposed to serve two years though they can serve for more if they want to. It’s true about one in six won’t make it to two years and most won’t stay beyond their initial commitment but that’s okay these things happen. And all it is going to cost you is 2500 bucks a year so about 5k per teacher for a finder’s fee, then we will give them an extra 11 grand for grad school or to pay off student loans after their two years is up. , regular teachers leave too. Now it’s true evidence says our neediest students really need experience teachers, we will spend a bit more on training because new teachers receive more and the program creates kind of a revolving door of new teacher and this will exacerbate teacher turnover but no plan is perfect. Oh and I need a staff of about a dozen and I want to get paid 120 k a year. Plus do you think we can get the local philanthropic community to give me 5 million, and the state legislature to throw me a million every so often too. What do you think? Should we do it?
I think you would tell me I was out of my $#% $#%& mind. The thing is that is exactly what Teach for America does.
But it gets even worse.
TFA was brought to town by a man named Gary Chartrand. Despite the fact he is a grocer, all be it though, a very rich grocer, he routinely inserts himself in local education. He also brought KIPP to town, has given Dave Chauncey 4,000 dollars a violation of the spirit of campaign donation laws, and has backed a candidate in every school board race since 2012 despite the fact he lives in Ponte Vedra including people like Scott Shine and Jason Fischer.
He is on record saying it is a good thing that teachers no longer have work protections, used his position on the state board of education to ratchet up testing requirements for both students and teachers while supporting vouchers where teachers and students take no tests and is a notorious detractor of organized labor once funding the faux teacher group PEN and he undoubtedly supports amendment 8 which would end home rule and takes representation away from the people.
He envisions a district full of KIPP charters staffed by TFA teachers and when the candidates of district 6 lavished praise on TFA, that is who they sided with while siding against professional teachers.
TFA says anybody can be a teachers and experience does not matter and we all know or should know that is far from the truth. It’s also insulting to people who have made teaching a career.
TFA also allows those who would seek to dismantle public ed to seem like they care. It allows them to say, well were not going to invest in doing things the right way, but hey have you checked out this program that puts teachers in inner city schools?
I would ask you all the following questions.
Shouldn’t’ we strive to put professional teachers in all our classrooms?
Why won’t the legislature fund money for loan forgiveness or grad school for traditional teachers after two years?
Can we afford all the extra costs of this very expensive program?
Does experience matter?
Don’t our neediest children, heck all our children deserve better than an ever revolving door of novice teachers?
Darryl Willie would have you believe he cares about our children but the truth is if he continues to push TFA the only thing he really cares about is his six figure salary. I hope he proves me wrong.