Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Teach for America members don't make a career of teaching

Posted By on Wed, Mar 11, 2015 at 9:41 AM

Teach for America, the program to put brainy college kids in needy schools, is part of the "education reform" agenda of the Billionaire Boys Club. The Waltons and others don't believe in teacher education and certification and don't think much of career teachers, either. Just send in some kids from Harvard with a lot of energy and all will be well. Sometimes yes, sometimes no and it's no secret the burnout rate is high.

Arkansas in the new Republican era will be pushing Teach for America. Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, he of the gambling legislation I mentioned this morning (a reader likened him to a slot machine — put in a free meal, a legal fee or some other favor and he'll spit out a piece of legislation), has a little ol' bill to give $3 million to Teach for America and another $1 million for expenses of the Arkansas Academic Roadmap, whatever that is. I'm assuming he got the nod from Uncle Asa to introduce this.

Not that facts matter to dogmatic "reformers," but here's a taste from the Chronicle of Philanthropy:

More than 87 percent of Teach for America members do not plan to remain educators throughout their careers, according to an analysis by a nonpartisan research group, a finding that could buttress critics of the nonprofit, which sends recent college graduates into low-income school districts for two-year classroom stints, Bloomberg writes. The attrition rate was more than three times that for non-TFA instructors working in the same subjects, grades, and schools, Mathematica Policy Research found.

A quarter of TFA teachers intended to quit after the current school year, and nearly 43 percent of those planned to leave education altogether. TFA skeptics contend the organization does more harm than good by staffing troubled schools with less-qualified, less-committed teachers. A spokeswoman for the organization said high turnover is a problem throughout the teaching profession. TFA launched pilot programs last year aimed at encouraging recruits to make longer commitments to teaching.

Teach for America is in the thick of the Walton-Rockefeller-Boston Consulting group study of what the former Little Rock School District needs to move forward. Fewer of those nasty union teachers, for one thing. (One of whom told me of a "focus group" the other day by BCG at which one of the high-dollar consultants got PO'ed at people talking off the desired message and broke consultant protocol to defend the Walton Family Foundation.)

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