Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Teach for America

I always thought that Catherine would make a fine teacher. Ever since elementary school she seemed to display the kind of disposition so important for public school teachers. She is kind, patient, organized, enthusiastic and smart. But she decided instead to major in business.

So you can imagine my surprise when she told her mother and I that now, at the end of her college career, she was applying for the Teach for America program.

Teach for America seems to be built on one slim data point: that the best teachers were the smartest students. There is some evidence to suggest that student achievement is greatest when the teachers' own test scores are high. So Teach for America looks for students with GPA's in excess of 3.5. Then they send their recruits to work with the most needy children after a training program that has been widely criticized for being too short.


This from the Indianapolis Star:

Untraditionally trained teachers getting mixed reviews

More of your child's instructors
don't have a degree in education.
But maybe that's a good thing.
Stephanie Parido works her class like a pro: pausing to ensure everyone is with her, assigning varied tasks to kids at different skill levels, pushing 12-year-olds to make complex analyses.

These are exactly the things education professors tout and what principals look for. But Parido didn't pick them up in education courses at college.

Parido, 23, didn't decide to teach until the end of college. Instead of four years of courses on teaching techniques, she attended a five-week summer crash course and then started teaching at Gambold Middle School on the Westside.

Parido is part of Teach for America, one of several programs that put teachers into classrooms without college degrees in education, the standard regimen for generations...

...educators, though, question whether the teachers, especially those who have had only fast-track five-week training courses, are equipped to handle situations that require detailed knowledge of child psychology or to work with special cases, such as a child who struggles to read.

What is clear is that political support for these programs has never been stronger. Both Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, and President Barack Obama, a Democrat, are pushing for more opportunities for those without education degrees to become educators...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not convinced that teachers must have numerous education courses to teach. What all teachers need is, however, more than one course on discipline and classroom management.

Then, teachers need to see discipline in action. Without a well-managed classroom, success in the classroom is impossible.