I applaud Darryl Willie’s decision to step down from TFA but now he must distance himself from their program.

Kudos to School Board district 4 member Darryl Willie for stepping down from Teach for America but that’s just step one.

First look at this chart:

Duval District Grade


TFA corp members by year


*  Percentage of TFA and non TFA teachers returning for their third years

A December 2013 report said TFA was the number one factor exacerbating teacher turnover.

It shows that the more Teach for America corp members we had the worse the district did. Now you shouldn’t think for an instant that this chart is the end all be all. There are probably dozens if not hundreds of factors that go into determining a district grade, but undoubtedly one of those has to be teaching experience, and the bottom line is experience, what TFA completely discounts, matters.

From NEAToday,

The verdict: experience matters – even in the second decade of teaching and beyond. 

“The common refrain that teaching experience does not matter after the first few years in the classroom is no longer supported by the preponderance of the research,” Tara Kini and Anne Podolsky write in Does Teaching Experience Increase Teacher Effectiveness? “We find that teaching experience is, on average, positively associated with student achievement gains throughout a teacher’s career.” 

Based on their analysis of 30 studies published over the past 15 years, Kini and Podolsky find that: 

Gains in teacher effectiveness are most striking during the first five years in the classroom, but continue to increase during the second, and often third, decade of a career.  
As teachers gain experience, students’ academic gains are not the only benefit. School attendance also improves.
For teachers to be effective at any point in their career, they must be a part of a supportive and collegial school environment. Stability in teaching assignments is also key. Teachers are most effective in the same grade level, subject, or district.
More experienced teachers support greater student learning for their colleagues and the school as a whole, as well as for their own students. Novice teachers, in particular, benefit most from having more experienced colleagues.

Now before I get excoriated by TFA apologists, sure you are right, there are a lot of great ones, and sure you are right there are veteran teachers who have stayed to long, but if we are playing the odds, then parents would take a veteran teacher every time.

If Willie really wants to make a difference he should pledge to work toward every classroom to have a professional teacher, or one that might become one, instead of having somebody who thinks, I will try that, to pay off student loans and kill time before grad school. Anything else just buys into a failed idea that anyone can teach and experience doesn’t mater. Our most vulnerable children do not need a revolving door of novice teachers, they need professional and veteran ones. It’s past time TFA went away.

So Mr. Willie I applaud your decision, but make no mistake the real work now begins.

2 Replies to “I applaud Darryl Willie’s decision to step down from TFA but now he must distance himself from their program.”

  1. Did he step down to avoid the appearance of impropriety? Is he gonna be an unofficial "outside consultant" for TFA like Jason Fischer is for charter schools? Willie wouldn't even have to come into the office to do that job. He could do it from home. Or maybe I'm just too jaded.

  2. Chris, you are SPOT ON with this post! The concept that “anyone can teach” is so demoralizing to those of us who spent years in college, pre-internships, and internships in order to follow our dreams of making a difference in the lives of children. Those who only utilize the TFA program as a temporary stepping stone hurt our schools, students, and morale. I think people underestimate the power of a positive and supportive work environment! Happy teachers stay tolerate the low pay and other daily battles when they have good leadership, support with discipline, a voice in school decisions, and colleagues/friends who feel like family. Thank you for the affirmation!

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