Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Response to Shaun Johnson of the Huffington Post

I read this post, http://tinyurl.com/4cka3dm about Teach for America in contrast to "Run of the Mill" educators as a result of @wmchamberlain tweeting his response. My comments about it are below. Please read the article and tell me what you think-- especially if you are a corps member, have ever been one, or hope to be one.

What is the purpose of this article? I don't mean to be rude, but I think that in order for me to understand why this is written, I need to read the specific "prevailin g educationa l reforms" you cited in your first line.

Without that first line, it sounds like this is intended to gain sympathy for "run of the mill" educators by criticizing the obviously effective work of TFA educators (http://tinyurl.com/4j5olnk). I don't mean to say that all "run of the mill" educators are ineffective. In fact, I am just now doing my teaching service hours now, and I hope to become an effective teacher "the old fashion way", but I do think that if our universities had the admissions criteria (or anything close to it) that TFA has, our education system would be in a better place before the "briefer trainings in pedagogy" even began.

I have read your pulled quotes several times now, and the first one (about the revolving door) is the only one that carries any water.

Higher degrees mean more training-- everything after "higher degrees" is a fallacy.

Expensive colleges mean more competitive admissions criteria (ideally). AND you only teach a group of students for one year. The idea that you can't make an enormous difference in that year is demeaning to our entire profession.

The last quote is just embarrassing. If we are trying to rally more support and positive opinion about our profession, why would we launch attacks at another branch of it, especially when the branch that we are attacking are leaving measurable tracks of success.

Finally, I want to address your closing statement:

"I won't join in valorizing corps members at the expense of dedicated educators who plan to make a career out of teaching."

Why is "valorizing" TFA in conflict with "run of the mill" educators?

Shaun Johnson's response:

"You are delusional if you believe that TFA candidates are not exempt from scrutiny in many cases. Additional ly, even though my last quote is sort of tongue in cheek, my students have every right to be outraged. They are working their tails off now, who may be one day teaching shoulder to shoulder with those who received training in a summer workshop."

My response:

I am not arguing that TFA candidates are able to side step criticism, I am arguing that they are not doing it magically. I mean to say that they are escaping scrutiny because they are effective. They deserve the recognition they receive. I don't think we are doing our profession a service by slamming one field of educators just because no one else seems to be doing so. Why aren't we helping to shine the spotlight on others' successes and learn from them.