Teach for America was the be-all, end-all answer to replacing “all the bad teachers that can’t be fired” in our public schools. It’s a private non-profit. It received early financing from Ross Perot, and worked out a partnership with Wachovia Corporation. Then came the taxpayer grants. That resulted in building teaching “institutes” across the country.
And it’s failing.
With successful educational models abroad, like Finland’s much talked about system, we continue to build from the ground up a mish mash of politically driven policies that don’t work or just duplicate what we already have. Teach for America is one such effort that really never made any sense.
EdWeek: In a distressed neighborhood north of Miami's gleaming downtown, a group of enthusiastic but inexperienced instructors from Teach For America is trying to make progress where more veteran teachers have had difficulty: raising students' reading and math scores.
By 2015, with the help of a $50 million federal grant, program recruits could make up one-quarter of all new teachers in 60 of the nation's highest need school districts. The program also is expanding internationally.
That growth comes as many districts try to make teachers more effective. But Teach For America has had mixed results. Its teachers perform about as well as other novice instructors, who tend to be less successful than their more experienced colleagues. Even when they do slightly better, there's a serious offset: The majority are out of the teaching profession within five years.
Despite these gaping flaws, supporters dramatically understate their own failure:
"I think ultimately the jury is out," said Tony Wagner, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and an instructor to the first class of TFA corps members.But it's this attitude that not only boggles the mind and contorts reality, but it also spends needless decades looking at "innovations" that never really pan out.
American Enterprise Institute (a right wing think tank): American K-12 schooling is a hotbed of dynamic problem-solving on this front. Non-profits like Teach For America, Florida Virtual School, The New Teacher Project, Carpe Diem, and Citizen Schools are showing new ways to recruit and utilize educators. For-profits like Wireless Generation, Tutor.com, Pearson, Discovery, and Rosetta Stone are offering up a range of ways to harness new tools and technology to support teaching and learning. Figuring out how to leverage these new problem-solvers is a place where our state systems, districts, and schools have fumbled badly. This is an area where would-be reformers have devoted far too little attention. Meanwhile, not only have the "best" performing nations not done any better on this count, but the schemes promoted by those covetously eyeing Finland inevitably entail oodles of regulations and rule-writing calculated to stifle such providers.Did you catch the "Figuring out how to leverage these new problem-solvers..." caveat?