“Breaker 1-9, Breaker 1-9, this is Teach for America (“TFA”) coming at you from the back of the classroom on $400K of the taxpayer’s money: There’s a kid in the 3rd row with his hand raised and his teeth chattering, I think he has to go to the bathroom. Over and out.“
Today’s Albuquerque Journal front page piece “Guidance from the Back” shows a photo of a very young man–identified as a coach–on a handheld radio advising an even younger female–a teacher from Teach for America–how to manage the classroom while she is teaching.
The story covers a pilot program whereby the inexperienced TFA teacher wears an earpiece through which she receives “real-time feedback” from the coach while she teaches. The feedback is not on content, but to “accelerate the learning curve for teachers, helping them master classroom management strategies”.
But, really spending $400K (for a nine month contract) of our taxpayer money that could instead be going to hire experienced teachers? Imagine if a Democrat spent our tax dollars to pay for a private company’s test program using our kids as guinea pigs? Screams of corruption would rain down from all corners- the media, the politicians and the chattering class.
For those of you unfamiliar with Teach for America, it is a private non-profit company, whose ten main executives all earn much more than $200,000 a year. TFA charges school districts to recruit and train ivy league college kids to teach in poor and minority school districts. The kids get five weeks of training and poof: they’re teachers.
The kids only have to commit to teaching for two years and then they can go on to their chosen profession of being a doctor, lawyer or wall street financier. It’s not like the Peace Corps, these kids are paid a full teacher salary by the school district.
So we pay TFA to recruit and train kids to be temporary teachers, who won’t stay in the profession, and we pay their salaries too.
Hanna Skandera is such a big fan of TFA that not only did she pony up $400K of our money to do this pilot program, but she put TFA on the commission she created to determine a new process to evaluate teachers for effectiveness and to determine how much those teachers should be paid.
That bears repeating. The company who believes that it only takes five weeks of training to become a teacher, gets to determine whether experienced teachers are “effective” and how much money years of teacher training and experience is worth.
But, is TFA really doing our kids any good or just helping out those ivy leaguers?According to “Teach for America: A Review of the Evidence” by Julian Vasquez Heilig- UT at Austin and Su Jin Jez, PhD, CSU Sacramento, the answer is no.
“Studies indicate that the students of novice TFA teachers perform significantly less well in reading and mathematics than those of credentialed beginning teachers.“
Thus, a “district whose primary goal is to improve achievement should explore and fund other educational reform that may have more promise such as universal preschool, mentoring programs pairing novice and expert teachers, elimination of tracking, and reduction in early grade class size.“
The study found that after three years, from their start date, 80% of TFA teachers leave teaching. Further, because of the high turnover rate, it costs school districts about $70K in recurring costs per TFA recruit. Read the report at the bottom of the column.
So, if the school kids do worse with TFA teachers, and it costs a whole lot more long term to have to keep paying to replace TFA kids, why is Hanna Skandera so gung-ho to keep funding them? Especially, when schools across New Mexico have to keep increasing class sizes due to budget shortfalls.
My guess: Traditionally teachers learn how to teach by going to school and then apprenticing as student-teachers to an experienced mentor teacher. It’s that apprentice word. That means union, and unions don’t give to the GOP, so they must be broken!
And by the way, TFA New Mexico is not hesitant about billing the taxpayers twice for the performing a service only once. Take a look at the article to the right.