Saturday, August 11, 2012

TFAer Responds on Onion Satirical Piece

A TFA corps member responds to the Onion piece. It is thoughtful and self-examining. I wonder what year this person is in. On this point: "the fact that about 1/3 of TFA corps members stay in the classroom after the two years seems to go unnoticed." Yes that only 1/3 stay DOES get noticed. And beyond that, what are the numbers for year 3, 4, 5 when people really get their chops as teachers?

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "The Onion Takes on Teach For America":
As a TFA-er in New Mexico, this article was certainly humbling. But I have to say it was also kind of unnecessarily harsh... Not that I want to defend TFA in any way from these criticisms that are true in some cases, but I'm kind of tired of the blanketed criticisms of TFA. We're not all like this (hopefully), but I can understand how some more "privileged" corps members may ruin it for the rest of us. I'll admit, I'm pretty tired of TFA boasting its minute accomplishments with 1-2 students per classroom. Those are the students who would have probably succeeded anyways relative to the rest of their classmates. I get the optimism, but sooooo many voices of still underperforming students with severe needs for a better education are still unheard. From being on the inside, I definitely sense that people in TFA don't really like to talk about their failures with students.

But back to why the article doesn't really do much....Somehow, the fact that about 1/3 of TFA corps members stay in the classroom after the two years seems to go unnoticed. I think TFA thus at least manages to feed teachers into the field, who may not have otherwise decided to teach. Also, after being exposed to the classroom, many TFA corps members struggle with the decision of whether to stay or not in the classroom. TFA is changing enough mindsets, in my opinion, to be making a positive impact on education. The more advocates, the better.... though we still have a long way to go and many TFA alum should stop thinking they are the God-sent answers to our enormous education problem.

Bottom line: I'm sure this article will make many people in TFA, including myself, think about our own teaching and motivations to be here. However, the preaching of this article may only hit home with the choir. I'm trying to think, if I was one of the TFA-stereotypes this article highlights, I would be uber defensive and dismiss it. Try again, the Onion!! Not that you're known for this, but some epic facts to tell us arrogant TFA corps members off would be even more effective. 
 Let me add:
I was in one school for 27 years in a high at risk neighborhood in Brooklyn. Most of my colleagues spent their careers in the school where there was little turnover. TFA does not take into account that a stable teaching group in a neighborhood school is a crucial element and TFA has helped the ed deformers destroy that.

1 comment:

Michael Fiorillo said...

The Onion article piece only dealt with the vanity and condescension of TFAers as individuals; it said nothing whatsoever about TFA functioning as an agency for recruiting scabs (New Orleans being the prime example) and replacement workers in conjunction with school closings and austerity. Needless to say, there's no mention of that at all by Anonymous.

Perhaps, given their ostentatious claims to be seeking social justice, these folks should spend a few minutes considering TFA's role as an institution, and how it cynically manipulates these young people, in service to the interests of its funders.