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Friday, July 5, 2013

Did Superintendent Vitti insult Duval County’s teachers?

I have to say over the course of an interview things can get misconstrued or taken out of context and who hasn’t written an e-mail that they thought was perfect but as soon as they sent it and then reread it they saw several glaring mistakes. So I would like to give the super a little latitude. I wasn’t there so I don’t know everything that was said or how it was said. Now that being said, I found his quotes about Teach for America in the Folio very insulting to teachers. 
The first thing he said was, “It’s an upgrade in human capital,”
Literally reading that means he thinks that taking non education majors putting them through a five week access course and then playing them in our neediest classrooms is better than putting professional teachers there. I honestly don’t know how else to read that.
Then he said, “We need to change the notion that you have to have a certain number of years of [classroom] experience to transform schools. I’m looking for a skillset and a willset. That defines leadership.”
Since he spent only 4 years in schools it’s not inconceivable that he feels that way but the jury is still out on what type of leader he will be. As for a skillset and a willset, is he saying teachers don’t have the skill or the will to succeed or to be leaders? Is he saying that only TFA recruits have those characteristics? If so first I can tell you he is wrong but I can also tell you type of leader he is going to be. One that marginalizes teachers the very people doing the job and one that won’t be successful. Experience by the way does matter and hopefully when he gets a little more he will realize that.
Also blech to skillset and willset, did he read that in a TFA recruiting flyer?
I will tell you why I don’t like TFA and in the very same piece that I am quoting Vitti from I said the TFA has a role to play. I don’t like TFA because it turns my profession into a service job, they say experience and training don’t matter and they say anybody can be a teacher.  All of those things insult me, almost as much as what our Super said in the Folio does.


  1. TFA is like the new boyfriend who calls and texts a lot and takes you to dinner and sends you flowers for no reason. But he dumps you after a year for someone better and you realize that it's the real commitment that matters.

    You understand that your friend's boyfriend, the regular guy who only sent flowers on her birthday and Valentine's Day and later, on Mother's Day was the real catch. The one who stayed committed, even though it was hard work and sometimes he was bored and wondered if he had chosen the wrong woman.

    Every year, he was a better man and husband and father because of the long-term commitment he made, even though he often felt unappreciated and taken for granted.

    Vitti is on a honeymoon with TFA. They come in with a lot of enthusiasm, like I did a long time ago. They'll never get tenure and they know it. They're intelligent, but by the time they would start questioning some of the BS, or stop gladly working 12-hr. days, they're gone, burned out.

    It's a career, not a job, and I'm in it for the long haul. And even after decades in the classroom, I can still honestly say that I'm better every year.

  2. May I please state the obvious, especially to Vitti, since EXPERIENCE seems to be what is being questioned:

    I have been arrested for murder and my attorney graduated from the top of his or her law class, but has only been in a courtroom a few times -- clink, goes the bars.

    My spouse is suffering from what I believe is a growing depression and at risk for suicide, can someone give me the name of a newly-minted professional who has a few weeks experience with mental illness?

    I need surgery, heart surgery, and my surgeon is fresh from several weeks of direct training/practice -- ah, is my will updated?

    Vitti, I know I am a damn good teacher and so do my students and the numbers I get over years no matter the rigor, but I, who graduated at the top of my university class, did not begin to hit my stride until my third year as a teacher. And each year since, I have gotten stronger and more seasoned. I just wish we pros from the real teacher-ed programs could sue the blank out of TFA.

  3. "It's an upgrade in human capital."

    This is insulting to all of the hard-working teachers of DCPS that actually went to colleges of education to be truly qualified in both theory and practice. These are the same educators that have worked years honing their skills as educators.

    Either Dr. Vitti stuck his foot in his mouth (I hope) or he truly believes that TFA recruits "upgrade" the teaching ranks (I fear).