A few weeks ago, I got into a back and forth with a friend about charter schools. She accused me of being too general in my distaste for them, and blasted me for not taking a more nuanced approach to education policy. After responding to a barrage of comments on my open letter the past two days, I know how it feels to be the nuanced one. Perhaps, as a friend said, too thoughtful and nuanced for the internet.
In the wake of Katie Osgood’s letter and my counter point, I stand resolved in my view that we need more young, dedicated teachers. While Teach For America may only guarantee a corps of young teachers for two years, that’s two years where the right people can make a difference in the lives of their students. Further, it is my hope that, like half the 2011 Milwaukee corps, these individuals will continue teaching in urban schools.
I also have the crazy notion that I can support TFA and teachers unions. That is because teachers unions are the key to elevating the profession. Thus, I believe teachers unions must organize young professionals in education so that they stop buying into all the corporate education hype. And anyone who thinks it’s only TFA teachers buying into the hype are absolutely wrong.
Two other points that have come up are TFA’s hiring operation in Chicago and TFA’s cluster model.
It is clear that the Chicago Public Schools have agreed to hold hundreds of sports for TFA corps members who they may or may not have interviewed or even met yet. It is imperative that TFA Chicago’s Executive Director, Josh Anderson, address this topic and put the issue to rest for the education community.
Further, I personally call on TFA and others to investigate the potential damage of clustering corps members in schools. It is clear that it can create a bubble between corps members and school staff that is difficult to break, and may exponentially increase turnover at these schools. I believe corps members should be learning from TFA and veteran teachers. It’s more difficult to do that when TFA indirectly limits corps members’ exposure to other people.
I believe TFA is an impressive organization which identifies amazing individuals and plays a part alongside schools and universities in producing great teachers. I also believe there are even more great teachers for corps members to learn from and veterans in the education field should foster this relationship.