Archives for category: Alternate Route To Certification

This just arrived in my email box. The writer signed her name:

There has been so much debate about educational reform and about Michele Rhee and her Students First organization. I am compelled to describe my experience this past June with the Rhode Island Teaching Fellows Program, a Rhee brainchild. The Teaching Fellows work along the same lines of The New Teacher Project but the Teaching Fellows is an alternative route to teacher certification. The premise is to attract people from the public sector and after 5 weeks of training they will be employed as first year’s teachers in high needs urban schools. The catch phrase is “Let’s close the achievement gap” and get your teaching certification in an alternative route program-well yes I know all about the achievement gap and only starting to realize all the components at work and I decided to re-enter school to become a teacher and this program sounded perfect. I could not have been more wrong!  

We start week one learning this militant type tactics of behavioral control-such as “Do it again” “Do it now” and “Slant” to name just a few-we practice this over and over again in a highly structured environment where our every move is scheduled and monitored. We are told where to sit, when to stand and when to speak-they occasionally mix up the tables I believe so friendships are not formed and “talk” starts.  We have lunch in groups with our coaches. We are actually scheduled to meet with our coaches for “debriefing” where we are told not to talk and only answer with yes and no. We watch videos of children in which these tactics are employed in other States.

Students are drilled on how to line up, hands by side, mouths closed-told which way to turn and what muscle to move next. They are instructed like they are in the military or prison. All the kids in the video are of course black-these behavioral control tactics are of course not utilized in white schools. A strict agenda is posted in the morning requiring us to adhere to it without question. We are at this point working 16 hours a day and not thinking clearly at all. We are then told to start working on lesson plans that we will implement in the field experience component in the evening and e-mail them to our coach for a review. This lesson planning has to be evidently self-taught as I have taken no education courses, which is one of the requirements of the program.

The second week of the program we begin the field experience component is a 4 week 2.5 hour class consisting of students requiring summer school to recover credits. These are the very students we are supposed be so concerned about with the achievement gap. After 1 week of training we are individually thrown in front of this class of 22, still being monitored by training team members. I will argue that I am NOT an effective teacher after one week of training and these kids WILL suffer because of it. By the third day, 6 of my students were not in class and I believe they will ultimately drop out and as an inexperienced RI Teaching Fellow I am completely responsible; it is reprehensible what we are doing to these kids.

At the end of this 5 week period we are then placed in an urban school where we are allowed to teach under an emergency teaching certification. At this point we are required to join the TNTP academy where throughout out the year we attend classes and workshops to get our own teaching certification after one year. So the premise is that to qualify for the $5500 educational grant through AmeriCorps you must work in a high need urban school in Rhode Island, what is called the urban4-Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, and Central Falls. These are exactly the only districts we are allowed to apply to. We are also enrolled in AmeriCorps and will receive our educational grant of $5500 after one year of service.

The cost of this TNTP academy is $6ooo-hmmm…so I will argue that the Teaching Fellows Program doesn’t care one bit about closing the achievement gap but in fact victimizes our low income minority students to achieve their own agenda which is enrollment in the TNTP academy and to fill their own pockets with outlandish salaries. . I saw advertisements on employment agencies sites for jobs within the Teaching Fellows organization paying anywhere between $60-and $78,000.00 per year-a lot of income to certify perhaps 20 teachers a year in the State of Rhode Island and my guess is less than half of those will stay in the high needs urban public schools. When I began the program there where 28 fellows; I was the fourth to drop out by the eighth day. I believe this organization is syphoning money from public education grants to serve their own purposes and the students that are being harmed are the low income black and brown students in these high needs urban schools. Michelle Rhee and this organization need to be stopped. I have decided to continue on and obtain my M.A.T. and become an effective teacher the proper way in two years and not destroy the lives of unsuspecting students on my way. I am continually looking for ways to expose this organization for what it is and hope it’s days are numbered before any more harm is done to these students.

–Theresa Laperche


I got a tweet from Britain saying that Michael Gove, the minister of education, has approved three new schools for state funding that teach creationism as science.

We know that Gove has been consulting with Joel Klein and the leaders of KIPP and has expressed great interest in charter schools. This seems to be the next step.

It does make you wonder if the world is spinning backwards. When will we see a replay of the Scopes trial?

I was re-reading Albert Shanker’s columns from the late 1990s this morning, and he warned that the greatest danger of the charter school idea was that each would “do its own thing,” have its own curriculum, and even its own version of truth. He was right.

UPDATE: Here is another view of creationism in UK schools:

We must remember that US debates are different from those played out in other nations.

Dave Reid is an engineer who decided to become a public school teacher after a career of 25 years in the high-tech sector.

He has been blogging about his experiences as a new teacher of math in California.

He sent this comment to add to our discussion of whether five weeks of training is enough to be considered a “highly qualified teacher.”

As a new, second career teacher, I find it amazing that the adverb “highly” is prepended to “qualified” for any teacher with less than ten (10) years experience. What profession designates its rookies and junior staff with the same descriptor as if they were on par with veterans and experts in the field?While I believe select alternate certification programs can be advantageous for second career professionals, and in times where supply cannot meet demand, programs like TFA can help bridge the gap, but blindly believing that youthful passion will save the day is naive, and anointing them “highly qualified” is absurd.I wrote about these descriptors in early 2011 in the following posts.Highly Qualified” Interns – a Mendacious Misnomer: Delusions – The ED’s Ineffective Measure of Effectiveness:

Bruce Baker has distilled the qualities of successful charter schools. In this post, Baker looks at the reasons that some NYC charter schools succeed.

The reason for creating charters in the late 1980s was that they would have the freedom to try new ideas and thereby to help public schools improve.

As the charters tried new things, public schools would learn from their experience and would improve.

The charters were supposed to gain freedom from most state regulation in exchange for their willingness to be held accountable.

After twenty years of charter school experimentation, we now have a pretty solid idea of “what works.”

The same things that “work” in charter schools should also work in public schools.

We should not waste time. Let’s learn from the charters so all schools can be successful schools.

First, the best charters spend considerably more money so that they can provide additional services and tutoring. Some spend thousands more per student.

That is an important lesson. Every public school that wants to see dramatic improvement should get extra funding.

Second, the charters are free of burdensome regulation by the states and districts.

That’s an important finding. The states and districts should immediately give public schools the same regulatory relief now available to charters.

Third, the charters do not accept the same proportion of students with special needs or students who are English language learners.

Uh-oh. That’s a hard one. Public schools are required by state and federal laws to have their doors open to all students. I don’t think that public schools can follow the charter model here. If public schools didn’t take these students, where would they go?

Fourth, the charters have even more money to spend because of the small proportion of children with disabilities and English language learners; this is a budget plus. But again, I don’t think public schools can maximize their dollars by excluding the most expensive-to-educate kids. So that’s another no-go.

Fifth, the charters make their own disciplinary rules and can toss out kids who misbehave by their rules, like bringing chips to school or not looking in the eyes of the teacher, or speaking up when they are supposed to walk in silence.  But if public schools kicked out kids for minor infractions, where would they go? To another public school.

Sixth, the charters have longer school days, longer school weeks, and a longer school year. More time to teach, more time to get ready for state tests. Public schools can do that too, unless those pesky unions insist on being paid more for working longer hours.

Seventh, charters keep their costs low by  encouraging or tolerating or not minding constant turnover among the teachers. That way, the bulk of teachers are in year one or two, at the bottom of the salary scale, and they are more malleable. Senior teachers cost more, and have ideas of their own.  But public schools will have a hard time learning this lesson because senior teachers have job rights. Of course, with the current move on to eliminate seniority and tenure, even public schools will soon be dealing mainly with inexperienced and malleable teachers in their first year. Who will train the new teachers if the senior teachers have left? Well, that’a a problem we will deal with some other time. No one has time to think about that now.

But one thing seems clear: If public schools get more money; if they can be freed of regulations, if they can exclude the most challenging students, if they have longer hours, if they have constant teacher turnover to save money, if they can keep out or push out the students who don’t obey or who can’t pass the tests, then they too will get fabulous results.

Now that we have the secrets of charter success, what should we do? And what arrangements should be made for the children who are unwanted by the new schools of success? The children who don’t speak English, the children with disabilities, the children who don’t obey the rules, the children who get low scores. What should we do with them?

The charters show us how to Race to the Top. What they don’t show us how to achieve equality of educational opportunity.

Federal Court reaffirms ruling that alternate route teachers are not “highly qualified” and that it is wrong to concentrate them in districts with high-needs students.

Home › News & Comment › News › Press Releases & Kits
Project: Renee v. Duncan
Date: May 11, 2012
But Judges Dismiss Case Because Congress Temporarily Classified Them So

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals panel yesterday re-affirmed its September 2010 ruling that the U.S. Department of Education unlawfully diluted the standard of teacher owed every student in the country under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) when it issued a 2002 regulation classifying teachers in training as “highly qualified.”

The court proceeded to dismiss the Renee v. Duncan case, however, on the grounds that Congress passed a measure in December 2010 temporarily qualifying the country’s approximately 100,000 teachers-in-training in alternate route programs as “highly qualified” through the 2012-13 school year. The court found that there was no relief presently owed to plaintiffs but held the issue was not moot and that, absent further Congressional action, alternate route trainees must once again be deemed not “highly qualified” after June of next year.

The decision is an acknowledgment that the Department wrongly allowed teachers in training to be concentrated in poor and minority schools across the country for the eight years between the Act’s passage and the temporary measure in 2010. It also makes clear that next year, absent additional Congressional action, these less-than-fully-prepared teachers must again be fairly spread across classrooms and that parents must be notified when their children receive instruction from these teachers.

“We think it was premature for the court to dismiss the case since the controlling law will render the Department’s regulation unlawful again in just a little over a year,” said plaintiffs’ lead counsel John Affeldt of civil rights law firm and advocacy organization Public Advocates Inc.. “Nonetheless, it’s very important to have the courts acknowledge that the Department acted unlawfully in treating these underprepared teachers as if they were fully prepared. We look forward to enforcing this precedent next year and to using it to inform the policy discussions in Congress going forward.”

Whether and how NCLB and its teacher quality provisions will be modified anytime soon is an open question. The Act was due to be revised by Congress in 2007 but the reauthorization process has been stalled. In the meantime, outrage over the December 2010 temporary measure — which was slipped into a midnight budget resolution with no public debate —led to formation of the nation’s largest teacher quality coalition, the Coalition for Teaching Quality (CTQ). Made up of 86 national and local civil rights, grassroots, educator and disability organizations, The CTQ is actively pursuing policies in the reauthorization to help ensure every child has a fully-prepared and effective teacher.

Evidence in the case shows that more than half of California’s interns are teaching in schools with 90-100% students of color compared to only 3% of interns in schools with the lowest population of students of color. Research also shows that graduates from alternative programs such as Teach For America and Troops To Teachers can be as effective as traditional route graduates, but that teachers still in training in those and other programs do not improve student achievement as much as fully prepared teachers who have completed their teacher training.


Press Kit
Releated Press Releases
Ninth Circuit Reaffirms Ruling That Trainee Teachers Not Intended as “Highly Qualified” Under NCLB
Diverse Coalition Draws Line On ESEA Teacher Quality
Dozens of Groups Protest Lowering of Teacher Standards
Parents & Students Blast Senate Deal To Call Trainee Teachers Highly Qualified
Intern Teachers Not “Highly Qualified,” Says 9th Circuit