At the end of the school day, I received an e-mail from AK directing me to a Slate Magazine article entitled “Why I Stopped Writing Recommendation Letters for Teach For America.” I had some immediate reactions and I’ll try to keep it brief.
1) Hopefully my peers in the Delta would agree that education policy and the way schools are run are different in rural areas than in cities like Oakland, Chicago, etc. However, some of the criticisms I see here are being portrayed as if it’s happening on all fronts when, in all actuality, these may only apply to select areas. If you ask any corps member in the Delta why they chose to teach, I doubt anyone would say “to rid communities of veteran teachers.” In fact, veteran teachers are why we are successful.
2) Let’s be honest. There are some things that you just cannot expect until you teach. Institute was helpful but, to be honest, short. I do agree with the author that a “teacher’s aid” or apprenticeship program would be ideal to prepare teachers but is the sustainability of this realistic? I am curious to see what college education programs are like in preparing future teachers in the classroom. I wonder if the hours of education majors teaching is significantly higher than those of corps members heading into their school years. Regardless, there were just scenarios that I did not expect until I was by myself teaching. I hope that there would be support for such a program but I honestly question if all parties involved would invest – schools, non-profits, and prospective teachers alike.
3) Forbes states that 91% of college graduates in the “Millennial” generation will leave before year three. This is a worldwide phenomenon yet it seems unfair to drag the name of an organization through the mud especially of a non-profit that maintains that its mission is to “ensure that all children are provided an opportunity to obtain an excellent education.” Yes, I do believe that Teach For America has a long way to go before that goal is realized but let’s not denounce the efforts of employees, alumni, and current corps members for mistakes in wrestling with a complex challenge.
Wish I could continue but it is getting close to 11 at night and I do want to be prepared for my students … they truly deserve it.