Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Thought about Teach for America

One of the weird things about Teach for America is that it isn't like an alternative program for people who don't want to graduate school at all. I'd love to see statistics for what percentage of TFA'ers go on to get MBA's, law degrees, advanced degrees in education. I bet it is a pretty high percentage. It is just a program who don't want to get professional training before they go teach kids for three years.

Also, it is not like there aren't high quality teacher education programs at prestigious schools. There just aren't prestigious teacher education programs. As far as I know, the year to year size of the Biology teaching program at Brown is primarily bound by the number of qualified applicants the get, which is often like, FIVE. Or SEVEN.

We had a lot of sharp, ambitious interesting people in my class at Brown, but there were also a lot of people like me who had somewhat checkered academic pasts. I certainly couldn't have gotten into any other graduate program at Brown. And I never, in a million years, would have been accepted into Teach for America. I wouldn't have gotten an interview. They wouldn't have even talked to me. They'd be like, "Could you put that flyer back down without spindling it so someone worthy might still be able to use it?"

4 comments:

Rob said...

Ha! I'm just procrastinating writing a paper on TFA as teacher ed.

http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2008/january30/wilson-013008.html
This program, just announced two weeks ago, seems like it has pretty high prestige potential. Full tuition fellowships plus $30K stipends at Stanford, Washington, Penn, and UVA.

"The new Leonore Annenberg National Teaching Fellowship, heralded as a nationwide "Rhodes Scholarship" program for teaching, will be awarded to outstanding recent college graduates and career-changers who commit to work in disadvantaged, urban or rural secondary schools for three years."

Rob said...

Of course, the larger, structural question is, what do you do with a degree from a prestigious teacher ed program? Go teach in a really prestigious, high need school? The field is just so flat.

Tom Hoffman said...

Yes, the Annenberg Fellowships are more like I'd want to see.

Dan said...

There aren't prestigious teacher ed schools — like there are prestigious b-schools, med schools, j-schools, etc. — because teacher ed schools can't claim the same correlation between themselves and a) successful teaching or b) career longevity.

I enjoyed my teacher ed experience more than most bloggers but even I'm willing to admit I learned the important stuff after I graduated. Which was, at times, a matter of simple perseverance and, elsewhere, some perverse luck, but rarely a matter of ed school quality.