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hp blogger Sue Peters's Comments

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Seattle's Education Reform Hypocrisy

Commented Jun 3, 2011 at 16:20:36 in Education

“To DallasTeacher - Here's the rest of my comment (which got cut off): You say TFA wants what's best for children. My question is: Which children/students are you referring to? Because, arguably, the TFA deal most benefits the TFA students themselves, not those in the schools where they train”
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Seattle's Education Reform Hypocrisy

Commented May 27, 2011 at 17:56:04 in Education

“You say TFA, Inc. wants what's best for children. My question is: Which children/ students are you referring to? Because, arguably, the TFA deal most benefits the TFA students themselves, not those in the schools where they train”

hp blogger Sue Peters on Jun 3, 2011 at 16:20:36

“To DallasTeacher - Here's the rest of my comment (which got cut off): You say TFA wants what's best for children. My question is: Which children/students are you referring to? Because, arguably, the TFA deal most benefits the TFA students themselves, not those in the schools where they train”
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Seattle's Education Reform Hypocrisy

Commented May 27, 2011 at 17:45:38 in Education

“I don't know if you are parent, DallasTeacher, but I am, and I don't like the message the Univ of Washington, Dean Stritikus and the Seattle School Board is sending parents like myself. They are essentially saying that they are willing to put a short-term, unqualified trainee in front of my children as their teacher, instead of a fully trained and credentialed teacher. I'm not okay with that.

What's more, the whole TFA, Inc. contract with Seattle's school district was fast-tracked past public scrutiny. There was not an open, community discussion about the pros and cons of TFA. The documents I cite, some of which can now be found online at Scribd, show quite clearly that there was behind the scenes maneuvering by Stritikus, Teach for America, and others who wanted to bring TFA to Seattle, by hook or by crook, which was not out in the open. Even the choice of UW was kept a secret for a while. I sense they knew it would be controversial to house TFA side by side with MA students seeking complete professional training. And it is.”

DallasTeacher on Jun 1, 2011 at 17:39:42

“2. Of course, not all Teach For America teachers perform exceptionally in their first two years in the classroom, but, please, I beg you - do not make this an issue of being "credentialed" or "trained" by a four-year college of ed. I know hoards of abysmal teachers who spent years studying how to lesson plan and check for understanding - concepts I miraculously picked up in just 5 weeks of Teach For America training. The issue of traditional teacher training is, again, a larger one that should be addressed in depth, but I assure you that whether my children's teachers are "qualified" (according to state standards which I place zero merit in) or "credentialed" is of no consequence to me. Those standards, which often call for a degree in ed or some year-long alternative certification course along with an embarrassingly easy certification “test” that my sixth grader could pass, mean absolutely nothing to me.”

DallasTeacher on Jun 1, 2011 at 17:39:23

“1. I am a parent - of four. And what does "fully trained and credentialed" even mean?? Am I not fully credentialed because I didn't study education for four years in college?? Does my dual degree in finance and accounting make me "unqualified" to teach my kindergarten students? I took and passed the TeXes Exam (required for "certification" here in Texas - even by Teach For America corps members) and completed a year of alternative certification classes (which were immensely useless, but that's another story entirely and also required of all Teach For America corps members in Texas). I did not study education for four years and yet, in my first year of teaching (as a Teach For America corps member), I led 100% of my kindergartners to meet 100% of the kindergarten DIBELS standards when only 17% tested on grade level at the beginning of the year. In my second year, I was named Teacher of the Year and grade-level chair at my school. My students have achieved similar and better results over the past 7 years that I've continued to teach. Would you suggest that I wasn't or am not as worthy of a teaching position because I didn't spend four years studying "elementary ed?" Gosh, I hope not.”
huffingtonpost entry

Seattle's Education Reform Hypocrisy

Commented May 27, 2011 at 17:43:50 in Education

“I’ve heard more than once from TFAers and their supporters this belief that they are "the best and the brightest" and they alone -- or more than any other teachers -- want to and can close the "achievement gap." This is an insult to other teachers who are equally committed to this challenge but don't necessarily brag about it. Also, the research on the effectiveness of TFAers in this regard is very mixed.

Yes, there is a significant attrition rate in the profession overall, however, the TFA numbers are especially high. What's more, even if your statement were accurate and TFAers' staying power is no better than the fully credentialed teacher, why bother hiring them at all?

As for my research, "bias and aggression," I would invite you read my writing on the Seattle Education 2010 Blog over these past two years, as well as follow my work with Parents Across America. If anyone is biased here, it is clearly people like Tom Stritikus, who appears to favor his incoming TFA recruits over his existing MA students, and the billionaire underwriters of ed reform like the Gates Foundation and Broad Foundations which fund, promote and push TFA trainees instead of fully credentialed teachers for our kids' classrooms, but seem to have no regard for the profession of teaching, though they have no expertise in the field themselves.”
huffingtonpost entry

Seattle's Education Reform Hypocrisy

Commented May 27, 2011 at 17:40:57 in Education

“DallasTeacher - You make a number of incorrect presumptions beginning with your guess about my position on the "status quo" in public education. Quite to the contrary. Please read my post on this: Why I Am Not A Defender Of The 'Status Quo' In Education
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sue-peters/why-i-am-not-a-defender-o_b_816547.html

On what do you base your "guess" that "many" of the UW's College of Ed MA grads would not accept a job at one of Seattle's "highest-need" schools? You seem to be making a prejudiced assumption about these students. You would be incorrect. The students I've spoken to from the UW MA program are eager to find a job, period. They are just as eager as any TFA recruit to make a difference in the lives of their students. In fact, they're willing to invest $23,000 and 2 years of univ. to be qualified to do just that.

What's more, research indicates there is a disproportionate amount of staff churn at high-poverty schools (likely due the extra challenges poverty brings to the classroom, making teaching there for anyone more taxing than elsewhere). But the TFA 'solution' simply adds to the churn in these kids' lives because it only requires a 2-year commitment from their trainees. Then they are free to move on -- and the vast majority do. As many as 80% of TFAers don't stay in the profession, let alone the same school, past their third year.”

DallasTeacher on Jun 1, 2011 at 16:46:17

“4. I write these comments with the utmost respect for those involved in the conversation. My opinions are certainly not the Gospel, and similarly Teach For America doesn’t consider its approach to be the singular answer to the biggest problem we’re facing today in America. While there are over-zealous corps members and alumni out there who do think Teach For America has all the answers thus perpetuating its elitist image, I have to say that the majority of those I’ve worked with (and the numbers are in the hundreds) are some of the most collaborative and humble individuals I’ve ever met.”

DallasTeacher on Jun 1, 2011 at 16:45:39

“3. So sure, we’d all love for the Princeton, Stanford, Sam Houston State, U. of Kentucky Teach For America teachers (and all of the other amazing teachers out there) to stay in the classroom for the rest of their lives and become master teachers, but unfortunately for poor kids, we live in a free and competitive society in which the appeal of being a teacher in a high-need school just isn’t that great. I appreciate you pushing the retention issue, Ms. Peters (and others), because it’s really gotten me thinking. I agree with all that two years in a classroom isn’t much, but I see value in, like I said, investing high-potential individuals in fighting for educational equity – in and out of the classroom. I think it will take both, and that is how Teach For America (one of many organizations working to improve education in low-income schools) has chosen to address the issue.”

DallasTeacher on Jun 1, 2011 at 16:45:17

“2. Of course research indicates high teacher turnover in high-poverty schools. And it's not "likely" due to the extra challenges - it's definitely due to them. I'm glad we can agree there, but this brings me to another point that I think a lot of Teach For America skeptics miss - that it is not simply a teacher placement organization. Its only goal isn't to get "the best and brightest" into low-income schools, though that is a short-term objective. Its larger goal is to provide those "best and the brightest" (who would otherwise not pursue a career in education - only 10% of corps members say they would have taught had it not been through Teach For America), with experience in a low-income school that invests them in working to improve our public education system from every angle. I can say that it's quite difficult to get school board and legislative policies changed, to improve healthcare for the poor, and to advocate for rigorous curricula all while trying to teach my students how to blend words. I see this as a chicken and egg dilemma – will great teachers improve the system, or do we need a strong system before we’ll have enough great teachers? The former seems a little short-sighted in my opinion. Great teachers (TFA or not) will only be retained (and we've all clearly identified this as a problem in low-income schools) when we have a system that effectively attracts, trains, and supports them.”

DallasTeacher on Jun 1, 2011 at 16:41:27

“1. I base my guess that many of the UW grads would not accept a job at one of Seattle's highest-need schools on exactly what I wrote - that my administrators and I are the only advanced degree holders at our inner-city school. In my nine years of classroom experience (which I am the first to admit still makes me somewhat of a newcomer in this field) I have worked with, I would estimate, less than ten advanced degree holders. Of those, two that I can remember received their degrees from what many would consider "selective" universities (comparable to UW). That's all. And my "guess" is certainly not a rigorous, peer-reviewed finding, but rather was provided simply to add some perspective (my own) to the discussion.”
huffingtonpost entry

Open Letter to Bill Gates from a Public School Parent

Commented Nov 5, 2010 at 16:56:50 in Education

“Thanks for your feedback. I honestly believe that the current ed reform agenda will fail because it's based on so many false premises, and the purveyors have failed to get buy-in from parents and teachers. (But then, how could they get buy-in? Their ideas are seriously flawed.) Diane Ravitch writes about this in "The Death and Life of the Great American School System." I found her chapter about the failure of top-down, corporate ed reform in San Diego particularly instructive. - s.p.”

jcgrim on Nov 7, 2010 at 08:05:28

“The current deforms will fail children and public schools. Not before the privatizers have taken billions of dollars for themselves.”

Live4literacy on Nov 5, 2010 at 18:21:28

“Diane Ravitch' book should be required reading for anyone who is part of the education reform movement...period.”
huffingtonpost entry

Open Letter to Bill Gates from a Public School Parent

Commented Nov 5, 2010 at 16:51:25 in Education

“No, I haven't heard back from him yet. I genuinely would like to talk to him, parent-to-parent. By the way, the Seattle School District is considering bringing TFA recruits to some of its schools. It's proving to be a contentious issue. Apparently the Gates Foundation is helping to fund this venture. -- s.p.”