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Sunday, May 5, 2013

Less than 8% of TFA teachers stayed 4 years in Jacksonville. Why do we want to invest 11 million dollars to bring more to town?

This is from last year, but it shows what a disaster Teach for America has been and I can't help but wonder why the district wants to put 11 million dollars into it. -cpg

Proponents of Teach for America like to point to a few studies all with methodological issues, all with small sample sizes and all using self-serving data as proof that it is a good program.

I don't know if they are trying to convince themselves or us.

Don't be fooled friends; the truth is Teach for America has a small role to play as a supplement to education but not the belle-of-the-ball first in line position it has been given.

Teach for America tells the world experience and training doesn't matter as it takes non-teachers, puts them through a brief summer class and then places them in the nation's most struggling schools.

What the program ignores is that teachers don't usually hit the ground running; it takes years of experience and training before they hit their stride, but before that happens the vast majority of Teach for America alumni have left the classroom.

Look at Jacksonville
In 2008, 51 arrived and only four remain.

Only 10 of 41 from the 2009 class continue to teach here.

Jacksonville's own independent audit criticized the district for having too many rookie teachers in our struggling schools,.

Well, friends, Teach for America's business model is to take non-college of education rookie teachers and put them in our struggling schools.

Teach for America does the antithesis of what we know to be best for our children, but for some reason, the district has contracted with them to bring in 100 more for the next three years.
If that doesn't convince you, think about the economics.

The district pays a finder's fee for each Teach for America recruit, and it shouldn't matter if this comes from a grant or 

Then schools routinely spend thousands of dollars to train novice teachers, and the vast amount of this money is wasted on Teach for America teachers because so few stay around.

Better uses of dollars
Our limited resources should be spent on teachers who have a chance of developing into veterans who will spend a lifetime educating our children not on people looking for a diversion or an adventure.
Finally, there are local teachers and college of education graduates who can't find positions; it is them rather than the hobbyists that we should be looking to put in our classrooms. Then after we have exhausted all efforts, if there are still openings, that is when we should ask for a few recruits.

There are undoubtedly great Teach for America teachers and college of education graduates who have made the wrong career choice. It boils down to what gives the county's children the best chance to be successful and what makes sense economically.

In both cases, Teach for America comes up short.

Chris Guerrieri is a public school teacher. 



  1. Does Vitti get it that all childrens brains are not created equal.. He's just like Bush's "No Child Left Behind" crap... when he totally destroys the duval county school system, then he'll move on with his political career

  2. The sad fact of the matter is that when you have lots of kids coming from under privileged homes and they are seldom made to feel that education matters you get an under-performing school/city. Years ago when schools were integrated the wealthy fled areas that were going to insist that their children go to school with under privileged kids. This wealth of support and knowledge fled these districts. The ones that stayed put there kids in private schools. The teachers work their buns off but these kids don't get the same level of support as "preforming" kids. The under privileged are further more abused because they are constantly being told that going to college will save them, but few are admitted to reputable higher education and most who go are suckered into education institutions that encourage students to get huge loans just so they can make money. The fact is no one really cares about
    these kids. No one does anything to solve the real problem. They just create more "programs" that give work to a few "community voices" and walk away.

  3. Chris, I am not being an apologist for TFA. However, in the urban core schools, there has been a massive failure of veteran teachers. I'm not sure that one reason for this trumps all reasons. Certainly there are a few major reasons including teachers who received substandard educations themselves and remain poorly trained to teach effectively no matter how much their hearts were in it; the inability to recruit and nurture truly capable teachers who could be effective in the challenging inner city environment; a lack of social support as the entitlement culture overwhelmed a culture of reward for hard work. There are others I'm sure. TFA offers a struggling school district access to motivated idealistic well educated individuals who will for a short time make an all out effort to bring a little bit of the possibilities that exist outside of the social underclass that has so many inner city children in its iron grip. Until we as a nation and a community are prepared to pay the price to repair the plight of our best intentions, we will continue to have to use piecemeal approaches that act as temporary fixes to massive wounds. Perhaps ypour relentless attack on TFA is actually a shot at the wrong target.

  4. I actually think TFA as a role to play but I unequivocally think we should strive to put people who may be career educators in our classes rather than creating an ever revolving door system...

    Also we are doing it all wrong, our best veterans should be working in those schools and we could put in place a system that assures that but instead, we go, hey lets try TFA instead...

  5. TTFA = Temporary Teachers For America
    LMAO when I read this satirical piece by a "TFAer", Chris I bet you'll like it too.