A reader states her view of Teach for America’s claim that five weeks of training is enough to make their corps members “highly qualified teachers”:
I graduated college in 1965 with a degree in education. My first two years were liberal arts and my last two years were education classes focusing on various subjects like social studies, math, reading, etc. In those days you didn’t need much in the way of classroom management because it was not a major issue. My third year in college all my education classes required me to visit different schools and observe master teachers who had agreed to allow students to observe them. We came back to class to reflect on what we saw. We collected resources. My last year of college required me to do 4 days a week of student teaching and one day a week in cohort to discuss our experiences. I worked one semester in a 4th grade class in the lower east side of manhattan and one semester in a kindergarten in park slope brooklyn. The teachers I worked with were wonderful. They were helpful and allowed me to assist and also to teach, under their direction, lessons.
None of this, however, prepared me for the experience of having my own class. It was overwhelming. It took me a very long time before I thought I was worthy to be a teacher.
There is absolutely no way in the world anyone can be considered “highly qualified” in five weeks.
The suits that don’t understand that are either smoking funny cigarettes, are on someone’s payroll to push this through, or have a complete disdain for other people’s children. Or all of the above.
I have said many times that those who would consider someone with 5 weeks training to be highly qualified should have major surgery done with someone with 5 weeks medical training.
I told that once to a TFA teacher from a charter school housed in my school building and who had been a finance major at Cornell. She told me it was different because doctors learned real skills.
I think that says it all.