Tuesday, July 1, 2008
The Charlie (Rose) and Wendy (Kopp) Show
I'm sure people will find their own favorite moment in her appearance but mine was when Rose asked her what percentage of Teach for America recruits are still teaching and her answer was 65% - are involved in education, some as lawyers doing some work connected to education.
I was waiting for his follow-up:
"I didn't ask you that. What percentage are still teaching kids?"
I'm still waiting.
Questions he could have asked, but didn't:
What would you say is the average time TFA's spend in the classroom - these committed people who have high expectations, which apparently is all you need? Why not look to see what it takes to keep these people in the classroom? Do they leave because of money? Burnout? Does Kopp think paying these people merit pay would make them better, or work harder, which is the mantra of the business community?
Why not put teachers who spend a decade or more in inner city classrooms on the show so we can talk about real ways of solving the problems instead of Kopp's smokes and mirrors?
As one who spent 3 decades, I agree with Kopp that we can really make a difference - I never entered a classroom thinking I couldn't. But I also learned that there was a lot more needed to have a long-term impact. It's not just about teaching, but about getting involved in the political struggles necessary to bring the same resources into classrooms as goes into wars.
Kopp just told anecdotes. I was thinking that in my 2nd year of teaching I also got kids to grow 2 years in one - and that happened to some kids numerous times.
Reforming the system is so not just about that.
She was right when she said all these gains disappear when they go to a lousy junior high - but it was her ad for her husband's KIPP.
When she talked about the difference in the way TFA's (high expectations, hard work) and traditional educators (kids motivations, parental involvement, etc.) see the way to solve the problems - note not one mention of class size reduction or other resources as a worthy goal.
Oh, if only all teachers could be TFA's- Rose was sort of trying to go there to see if that would work - but she slipped away.
It was like when I asked Chester Finn if we made every school a KIPP school, would we eliminate the achievement gap - and he slipped away on that one but did claim we would close it by half, an admission that it was not all about goals and low expectations.
Noel (a parent activist from Manhattan's lower east side)'s comment:
It was frightening to me how enthusiastic she was about the teachers being 100% "goal-oriented", doing "whatever it takes" to get those scores up. And I thought it was very telling that she simply could not, no matter how many times Charlie Rose asked her to, describe what in particular this fabulous teacher Gillette (?) had actually done to help kids. It all came down to sheer, monomaniacal focus on The Goal. Utterly sickening.
More of Noel's comments among others at this PBS site.
Add your own and demand that Rose have real teachers on to present the other side - which is reality.