Seattle teachers union leaders are spreading misinformation against bright young Teach for America talent
Next week, on November 17th, the Seattle School Board will vote on whether or not to let Seattle's school principals hire bright young Teach for America (TFA) teachers to teach Seattle's children.
The teachers union is conducting a whispering campaign against this very bright and talented group of young teachers. The union is telling parents that TFA teachers are untrained and less qualified than teachers trained in traditional schools of education.
This is flatly untrue. The Teach for America training model has proven itself in spades.
Teach for America selects college graduates from the most selective colleges in the nation based on their proven leadership skills, grade point averages, and subject matter knowledge. It is much more difficult to be accepted into a Teach for America training program than into a traditional teachers college. Last year, 46,000 college graduates applied to Teach for America, but only 4,500 were granted spots.
A national survey of principals indicates that 94% of school principals say that TFA teachers are just as effective, if not more so, as traditionally trained teachers.
Controlled academic statistical studies comparing the impact on student learning of TFA and traditionally trained teachers bear this out. See this study by the Harvard Graduate School of Education here, and by the Urban Institute, here. The Harvard study shows that the academic skills a teacher brings to the classroom confer ten times the educational advantage to students compared to that conferred by a teaching credential.
Another benefit of TFA teachers is that they are much more diverse than traditionally trained teachers. One-third of Teach for America candidates are people of color, while 2007 figures for Seattle's teachers reveal that only 7.5% of Seattle's school-of-education-trained teachers are people of color.
In the 2010 legislative session, the Washington State legislature passed SB 6696 Section 502, which allowed alternative training programs like TFA to enter Washington. Regulators at the state have specifically approved the Teach for America program.
Engaging in a whispering campaign against bright young talent for Seattle's schools is unprofessional, unethical, and violates the trust that the community places in teachers. Yes, union leaders fear change coming to schools, but if they care about children, as they claim to do, they should tell the truth about TFA teachers and help these bright young teachers teach children in Seattle.