Here’s something worth re-posting: Tenured Radical has a great piece today on what’s wrong with Teach for America. I don’t mean to denigrate what I’m sure is genuine do-gooderism among many Teach for America teachers, but I think TR (not this TR) is pretty spot-on. I always wondered what it would be like to be a career teacher at one of these “troubled” schools and have a fresh-faced kid from Yale, Berkeley, or wherever come in with the ostensible mission of saving your troubled institution. I can’t imagine that it makes for a pleasant work environment, either for the career teachers or for the TFA kids. I realize that many of these schools may already have high faculty turnover rates, but even in that case the TFA model seems neutral at best, fitting into an existing trend that detracts from the overall quality of public education. Now again, I don’t want to cast aspersions on the teachers themselves (like Jeff, a friend from Cal who teaches in Philadelphia), as I’m sure that many of them work hard to make a difference in the lives of their students. My suspicion lies instead in the model of the program itself which, much like the Peace Corps, puts youthful exuberance above worldly experience and does more to salve our first world consciences than to actually improve the lives of the people such demonstrations of goodwill purport to help.
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