Monday, August 27, 2012

Renton School District Reconsiders Teach for America

Wednesday, August 22nd, Superintendent Mary Alice Heuschel and the Renton School Board heard comments from twelve members of the public regarding their consideration of a TFA candidate for a language arts/social studies teaching position at Dimmitt Middle School.

As a former Renton High School teacher and Renton resident, I took the opportunity to speak first. My main point was that if we want to say teaching is a profession, then we need to treat it like one. Professionals don't receive five weeks of training before beginning their career. I finished by noting that there are dozens of teachers in the area with masters degrees in education who would happily fill an LA/SS position. I said that if the district wants to bring in TFA, it would have to make a convincing case to the public that no other qualified candidates could be identified.

After I spoke, I believe eleven (or twelve) others spoke. These people included teachers Becca Ritchie and Julianna Dauble, REA president Phyllis Silling, SEA President Jonathan Knapp, Bellevue EA President Stephen Miller, and a former TFA corp member.

Julianna Dauble praised the board for their past work and said she constantly bragged to other teachers in districts across Washington about her school board. However, she said that bringing TFA to the district would do great harm to the district's relationship with teachers.

It was my impression that Phyllis Silling spoke most strongly against the district's consideration of TFA, suggesting that the district had been disingenuous with REA regarding their intentions with TFA.

The former TFA corps member, whose name I regretfully did not record, said she had been incredibly overwhelmed by her experience in TFA. TFA did not properly prepare her. She now works as a counselor at a high school "down south," presumably southern Washington.

Every comment at the meeting was in regard to TFA. Every commenter recommended against TFA.

6 comments:

  1. Very powerful. I wish these comments were taped and sent to the Education Nation jive that's coming up in a few weeks on NBC and to the USDOE where they seem to love TFA about as much as they love standardized tests and to the Obama White House too. Not that it would change anything at Education Nation, NBC, the USDOE or the Obama WH. But at least they could hear the reasons why TFA is so problematic.

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    1. We should organize some kind of mass bloggers' response to Education Nation with evidence from events like this.

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  2. These public records were hard to obtain. Seems some at RSD do not want the public to know the sweetheart deal they're trying to craft - knowing full well their staff vehemently oppose this move. Nevertheless, MAH has to do favors for Tom Stritikus and her buds at the PESB.

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    1. SPSLeaks, say more here, please. Can you elaborate?

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  3. One of the schools where I did my pre-application volunteer hours was having a back to school picnic in the park yesterday. My program required at least 400 recent hours of volunteering with school kids as part of the application process. It's been awhile, and I don't remember how many hours of pre-service contact (volunteering, practicum, student teaching) we had to have before earning our credentials, but it seemed an overwhelmingly large number back then. Truthfully, it was not even enough, but it did show commitment to the field.

    To me, it does not seem the TFA makes much effort to show commitment to the field, or to children. If these people honestly cared about children, they would be committed to creating an army of tutors and mentors for America's needy students.

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  4. Don't you mean Teach for Ameriquits?

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