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Monday, December 8, 2014

The Cowardice of anonymous or why Teach for America is the worst thing ever

Quite often I don’t mind anonymous comments. Usually they are from teachers who don’t want to be identified for fear of repercussions, or parents who have better things to do with their seven minutes of free time than create an account, either way if they forward the conversation I don’t mind.

I usually however don’t put up negative comments from anonymous posters, I think it’s gutless to call somebody names and hide behind anonymity. The problem with these type of comments though is they aren’t just gutless and negative they are usually ignorant as well.

Take for instance this comment I received earlier today.

Chris' blog is the virtual example of the old school faculty lounge where all the veteran teachers hang out with their burnt up souls, energy, and ideas. These are the same people most against TFA. Why? Because that type of teacher threatens them. They are intimidated by their youth, background, and independence. And most importnat unions for their willingness to advocate for themseles. TFA means reform and that is why Chris dislikes them. Ask Chris why he works for an ESE center. Well.. to skirt accountability and avoid teaching so his paras can work with the children as he types away on his computer and is pai

Put your feelings about me aside and just examine the words above.

They start out with a negative and distorted view of the teaching profession, they believe veteran teachers have burnt up souls, energy and ideas. I doubt the person that wrote above has ever been in a teachers lounge, let alone taught because if Jason Fischer   they ever had they would know they would be hard pressed ever to fine a more dedicated, professional and energetic group willing to do whatever it took to help their children. 

As for people being against Teach for America, there are lots of people and groups against Teach for America, college professors, student activists, parent associations, many of the young, old and in between, from just about every field imaginable including a growing cadre of Teach for America alumni but the writer believes it is just used up teachers who are.

Heck I have said many times that TFA has a role to play but only after districts have exhausted all efforts to get professional teachers in our classrooms. Unfortunately too often they are used as a quick fix or to displace veteran teachers or as a club against labor.

Then let’s look at the stats locally, they do a little better in math and a little worse in reading when compared to other teachers in their cohort, though since the vast majority leave they never improve like the other teachers can. They take poorly trained, non education majors and put them in our hardest classrooms that need stability and veteran teachers, where only four out of five finish their two year commitment.

These are all facts and hating me or loving me won’t change them.

A Harvard study said they were the number one factor exacerbating the teacher turnover problem here and Duval through a combination of public and private funds is going to spend 5 million extra dollars on them over the next three years. Some may think I have a burnt up soul for thinking that money would be better spent to recruit professional teachers and top grads who might spend a lifetime with our children or on social workers and mental health counselors because often why a student acts up or does poorly in school has nothing to do with school but a lot of people, including non-burnt out teachers agree with me.

At this point the question shouldn’t be why I am against them but how can anybody be for them.

Veteran teachers are also not intimidated by TFA teachers, youth, background and independence (what does that even mean). They are not intimidated by much or they would never have made it to veteran status. Many do however feel sorry for their kids they will attempt to teach.

As for working at an ESE center the writer makes it sound like somehow those kids are less worthy of being taken care of. Like only the dregs of the teaching community would rather work there than with “regular” kids.  Like teachers they seem to have a dislike of special needs children.

Then there is the “skirt accountability” statement which is the most ignorant thing they wrote. As an ESE teacher I have to document and account for everything I do. The paper work where daunting at the full service schools I have worked at is nothing compared to what I have to do at my ESE center school.

Finally if you were to ask why I chose to work here I would be honest with you. Working in the regular education setting was tough, a different kind of tough anyways. You would see so many great kids and teachers just spin their wheel stuck in a system that was set up to beat them down, it was disheartening. 

When the district asked what school I wanted to go to, I jumped at the opportunity to be back here (I worked here for two and left for six). It’s the best thing that could have happened to me because the kids here when they erupt, I know it is a byproduct of their disability, not a byproduct of societal forces that have often beaten them down, and the former was just more palatable to me and I couldn't take much more of the latter.

So in conclusion, people feel free to post anonymously if you are going to further the debate or offer thought out criticism but know at the end of the day if you have nothing to offer but ignorance and negativity, your comments are not welcome here.


  1. How many TFAs are high performing, or satisfactory for that matter? My ex-wife's son was a TFA in Las Vegas. He did it to get some money for law school. Not even two years did he last. He told me he just did his thing until his time was up. Counting the days and the checks since they couldn't fire him unless there was a gross incompetency. I love so watch them twist on the vine. All they have is a half baked workshop model with little or no application or the application does not fit the students they teach. They are taught by broken admins who taught a couple of years like Vitti and went to admin or cadre since they would rather slit their wrists than be in a class room. I see what happens to them when some are forced to go back into the classroom. They leave the profession. TFA is a hollow shell of a concept conceived by charlatans who wish to profiteer from the taxes we pay to educate our children and provide little more than a mannequin in front of the room. I wonder how many politicians have received money from TFA? Would they mind if TFAs taught their children? How many do?

  2. You know, my problem is that most people who value TFA devalue veterans; my experience is priceless, but those with bright eyes and inexperience are valued above me. That is absurd. On top of that, guess who is stuck mentoring a revolving door of new teachers (including TFA)? Oh, that's right, the veteran teachers. Most of the TFA I know realize after teaching for a year that TFA is useless and debilitating for schools that need the most experienced teachers. I'll take on any TFA; please, as if that is even a challenge.

  3. I have 20+ years and my students score better on their tests than those of new teachers, but my admin eval score is always lower than even first year teachers who totally suck, even for first year teachers. The reason is simple. Novice teachers don't have tenure, so they are afraid to speak up about anything and they're cheaper. They would love to push me out, but they can't. Hahahahahahahahaha! They tried and failed repeatedly. Hahahahahahahahahaha!