Search results for: "teacher training"

Idaho just recently approved Teach for America as a “state sanctioned vehicle for the preparation of teachers in Idaho.”

At first I thought this was an April Fools joke but it isn’t April.

The weakest aspect of TFA claims is its “preparation” of teachers in only five weeks. If that is all it takes, then teaching is not a profession but a job for temps.

Travis Manning, a high school English teacher in Idaho explains why this is a very bad idea.

Gary Rubinstein was one of the earliest members of Teach for America.

In this post, he looks at what has and has not changed in those years.

You’d think that after 29 years, TFA training would have improved.  But since they are supposed to be so data-driven, they should look at the most telling statistic about their quality of training.  The quit rate for TFA has not changed from 29 years ago until this day, approximately 15% don’t complete their two-year commitment, or roughly 1 out of 7 corps members…

We rarely get to see or hear from actual TFA corps members.  I don’t know if they now have to sign some kind of non-disclosure agreement but I find it strange that this group of ‘leaders’ produces not one person live-blogging or live-tweeting their experience.  When pictures of corps members in action are posted, I like to glance at them and see what I can infer from them.  Sometimes I’ll notice that they are student teaching a class where there are only 5 students in the class and I’ll write about how unacceptable it is that TFA has not figured out a way to pack the student teacher classes with actual students.


Well, here is a creative alternative to arming teachers, which most teachers oppose.

“The Utah Association of Public Charter Schools recently brought on YouTactical founder, Dave Acosta, to conduct training sessions around the state, centered around a program that teaches educators to, among other things, defend their students from active shooters with their bare hands…

”Friday, roughly two dozen administrators and teachers gathered at Thomas Edison Charter Schools South, in Nibley, to learn from Acosta.

“How many people can a bad guy shoot in 5 minutes if nobody interferes?” Acosta asked the group. “If nobody interferes, it’s a lot of people. Let me just say that.”

“The educators also watched and practiced techniques to disarm would-be active shooters in scenarios that featured handguns and AR-15 rifles.”


Jeff Murray is the Ohio operations manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s offices in Columbus. He read an essay by a high school English teacher who was offended by Governor John Kasich’s proposal that teachers should be required to shadow business people if they wanted to be rectified. Murray was disturbed when a high school English teacher objected. The teacher wrote: “I believe, as a professional English teacher that vocational training is neither my role nor my responsibility to my students.” Murray wrote in reply: “But I want to tell him that he’s wrong.”

Murray says the high school teacher is wrong. Every course he took in high school, he says, taught him job skills. Is that the same as “vocational training”? I don’t think so.

Murray wrote:

Everything about my high school and college experiences helped me to become a successful employee. Math teachers gave me the skills to measure work areas and assist in computing price quotes. History professors helped me understand why a developer was converting this former manufacturing plant into apartments. Communications instruction helped me hone marketing pitches to boost business. And, yes, I used every ounce of wordcraft I had studied and obsessed over in Brit Lit and Sonnet Seminar to write newsletters, clarify job specs, and interact with customers. It wasn’t Fitzgerald, but it was clear and direct and helpful to business. They didn’t know they needed an English major until they got one.

Maybe he actually is agreeing with the high school teacher. Maybe he doesn’t think he is wrong, after all. Surely, Murray didn’t want vocational training in his English class instead of reading Fitzgerald or Ellison. I assume he would have preferred reading and writing about “The Great Gatsby” to learning how to write a business letter. He realizes now that studying literature and writing prepared him for whatever career he chose. Does he really think that his English teachers and his history teachers would have been better if they had been required to spend a week in a factory or a department store?

My most beloved teacher taught us adolescent ruffians to read and appreciate Keats, Shelley, Shakespeare, and Blake. The only job skill I learned from her was the importance of accuracy.

A friend of mine, a lawyer who won a Supreme Court case knocking down voter suppression in Georgia in the 1970s, once told me that he met the Chancellor of the Exchequer in London, the highest financial official in the government. He told my friend that once a boy has mastered “the greats,” he can do anything.

Teachers do not need to shadow people in business. People in business need to shadow teachers. Kasich’s bill, by the way, was dead on arrival.

In a bold move to address the state’s teacher shortage (caused by low salaries), the state board of education removed all requirements for new teachers other than a college degree and passing a test in subject matter.

Will Utah soon allow barefoot doctors too, you know, the doctors without training or experience?

“Times have changed” — not everyone wants to return to school for a teaching degree, said Superintendent Sydnee Dickson.

An existing path gives permits to school district employees after one to three years of practice teaching and college classes. The new license, heavily criticized since being approved by the state board in June, is available immediately to applicants with bachelor’s degrees who pass a subject test.

The elected panel over Utah’s school districts and charter schools voted unanimously in favor of the measure at its monthly meeting Friday, but will consider tweaks to the policy that several Utah teachers and their unions have decried as an insult to their profession.

Vice chairman Dave Thomas said the move was made in part to address a teacher shortage and has largely been misunderstood.

“I don’t view this as an attack on traditional teachers,” Thomas said.

Utah Education Association President Heidi Matthews urged the board to reconsider, saying the state’s affluent districts could benefit, but low-income students would lose out. The rule could overburden schools without enough time or money to hire more mentor teachers to train the novice instructors, she said.

“It’s a human-rights issue.”

Board member Joel Wright said schools aren’t on the hook to grant the new licenses if they don’t want to. Under the new policy, administrators are allowed to tailor requirements for a license.

“This is a critical step,” Wright said, in giving individual districts control.

The board rejected a proposal from board member Brittney Cummins, of West Valley City, who sought to require that teachers-in-training be hired at a district or charter before receiving a license.

Mercedes Schneider points out that veteran teachers are expected to mentor the newbies for three years, but this may drive the veterans out of the classroom by giving them additional responsibilities without pay.

Utah is on a downward trajectory.

Levi B. Cavener is a special education teacher in Idaho. He recently wrote an article arguing that Teach for America recruits with five weeks of training should not be assigned to special education students. A spokesperson for TFA responded that it was okay because they would be getting the training while they taught.

Levi says that is like teaching with training wheels.

He writes:

It’s not ok for a doctor to tell you that s/he’s qualified to do the surgery because s/he will get training later.  Nobody wants to be the one lying on a table with a doctor who has only recently held a scalpel for the first time.

It’s not ok for a lawyer to represent you because he has great ambition to attend school and pass the BAR exam down the road. Nobody wants to stand in front of a judge with an attorney whose only experience in the courtroom is from watching episodes of Law & Order.

It’s certainly not ok for an individual to be placed at the head of a classroom full of our most vulnerable students because TFA training wheels are attached at the waist. Students and parents have a right to expect a highly qualified professional leading this classroom starting on the very first day of school, and a TFA employee does not fulfill this basic expectation.


The author of this email requested anonymity, for obvious reasons.


I started reading your blog recently and it has been a lifesaver. I was a participant in the (as I learned) corporate-reform-driven Teaching Fellows program in XXXXX, and I was cut at the end of the their pre-service training.

This was, as it turned out, a good thing, since I wasn’t ready to teach (nor was anyone in the program, if the current experiences of my friends who continued in the program count for anything); I was unwilling to continue using the required behaviorist, authoritarian classroom management methods and scripted lesson plans; and I discovered that the principal that hired me had a policy of hiring only TFA and TNTP participants for the ‘core’ academic subjects.

In the process of making sense of my strange experience, I decided to read Wendy Kopp’s original thesis on her idea for a ‘Teacher Corps.’ In some ways, the original idea is very different from what it is today — she envisioned that corps members would only teach in districts experiencing shortages of fully-certified teachers (and only in high schools — there is no mention whatsoever of charter schools).

In other ways, not so different: “Like the Peace Corps did in its early days, the Teacher Corps will create a level of spirit and mystique which would rival the hype that currently lures so many who have undefined career plans into investment banking!”

But what struck me most was the advice given to Wendy Kopp by the president of the NEA, to whom she wrote about her idea of a teacher corps: “We feel strongly that the core of this Nation’s commitment to education must flow from fully prepared, career focused, and professionally oriented persons. Even a suggestion that acceptable levels of expertise could develop in short termers simply doesn’t mesh with what those of us in the business know it takes to do the job–much less with what our young people need and deserve….We certainly wish you the very best with your idea and hope you choose to devote your energies to a career in teaching. There are few more satisfying or challenging professions you could elect.”

Thanks again for your blog, and I hope I will be able to write to you in the not-so-distant future that I am teaching math, fully certified through a real teacher preparation program.


Faced with low test scores in Providence, Central Falls, and other districts, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo wants more teachers from Teach for America, who have only five weeks of training.

She is a deep-dyed Corporate Reformer who believes in the magic of privatization by charter schools and inexperienced, ill-trained TFA.

This will not end well for the students.

Last May, there was a school shooting in the STEM Academy charter school in Douglas County, Colorado, one of the most affluent districts in the state, and a student was killed by another student.

Now there is a debate between the school district leadership and another charter school about arming teachers.

On the one side of the argument is Superintendent Thomas Tucker, who says guns have no place in the classroom.

“Teachers are not armed,” Tucker said. “We will fight tooth and nail of any school whether it’s a neighborhood school or a charter school.”

On the other side of the debate is Derec Shuler, the executive director of Ascent Classical Academies. The charter school currently operates within the Douglas County School District. However, for more than a year staff at Ascent have been training to carry and use, if necessary, firearms inside the school.

“We have staff who volunteer,” Shuler said. “They’re screened and they undergo pretty rigorous training. That’s on-going as well to be able to carry concealed firearms at school to protect kids.”

The Douglas County School District recently had to deal with a school shooting. An 18-year-old student was killed and eight others were hurt during a shooting on May 7 at the STEM Academy.

The superintendent insists that only security personnel will carry guns.

He has told the charter that it can leave the district if it insists on arming teachers. The charter may take him up on his offer.

Superintendent Tucker arrived in Douglas County after the defeat of a board led by rightwing zealots who controlled the school board and wanted to offer vouchers. Tucker had to take charge and restore confidence in the public schools. He looks like he is a take-charge guy. No doubt he has read the stories about the teachers who misplace their guns, drop their guns, forget their guns in the restroom, accidentally discharge their guns.


Friends of public schools are pleased with the recommendations of Superintendent Thurmond Charter School Task Force.

Now it is up to the Legislature to act.