Today as I was watching & tweeting Governor McDonnell's K-12 Education Reform Summit, I got into some conversations with a TFA
I'm not going to repeat what I've already written, so if you want to see my previous thoughts on TFA, please read here and here. As TFA pertains to Virginia and the legislation that just passed, I wrote about that here:
You probably already know what I think. I have written about TFA before. It's my most popular piece.
The only thing new I have to say is: Why does Virginia need TFA? There are budget and teaching positions being cut across the state and I hear it's hard for our college graduates to get teaching positions. Where is the evidence that there's a teacher shortage anywhere in Virginia? And if there is one, why don't we have a Teach for Virginia instead? Teachers who are being laid off could be given incentives to go and teach in hard to staff areas. Top students at Virginia colleges and universities, especially ones seeking a teacher's license, could also be granted incentives to start their careers in these supposedly "hard to staff" places.
Otherwise, it doesn't seem like anyone's fighting it, so meh.
If someone can demonstrate a clear and definite shortage in Virginia, if I am mistaken that there isn't one, then I apologize for misleading my readers and followers and I am glad to have been called on it by Aaron and Eva.
But I still don't think TFA in its current incarnation is a good model.
The shortages would likely be in high-poverty schools and in areas such as special education. I don't think that a TFA corps member, with very little training and no experience is equipped to do a good job in such positions. I also don't think it gets to the root of the problem. Why is there a shortage? Why are those positions hard to fill? Why don't adequately trained and/or experienced teachers want those jobs? Why are the students in schools with these shortages coming to school presenting such challenges?
If TFA changed so that their corps members would commit beyond two years and so they had more training, education, and something akin a year long apprenticeship first and/or if they worked to change the root of the problems in the American education system and those behind high teacher turnover and shortages, I would sing their praises, too.
UPDATE: Aaron also said that the TFA legislation passed unanimously in both houses, with major support across the state. Now, I know, as I said in my blog post cited above, that no one seemed to be fighting it and I know that the bill passed handily, but I'm not sure that it had "major support across the state" from the public and from Virginia education stakeholder groups. But maybe I'm wrong. Any thoughts, readers?