The leader of alternative teacher preparation program known as Teach for America drew sharp criticism from one Democratic state lawmaker Tuesday as he appeared before a House committee seeking continued funding from the state of Illinois. […]
[Aneesh Sohoni, executive director of the Teach for America program in Illinois] said the program recruits young college graduates, particularly students of color, who have degrees in fields other than education, and puts them through an intensive seven-week training program to prepare them for teaching in a classroom. He said it also continues to provide coaching and support for the first two years of that new teacher’s career.
But that is a significantly shorter training period than most teachers receive through traditional programs, which usually require five years of study and student teaching to earn a bachelor’s degree, or at least three semesters to earn an education degree on top of some other bachelor’s degree. […]
State Rep. Katie Stuart, an Edwardsville Democrat and a former math teacher, said she could not believe that Teach for America can provide the same level of professional training as a formal training program at a college or university. She said programs like Teach for America diminish the professionalism of the teaching occupation.
“Part of the reason why we don’t have our young folks going into our colleges and universities saying, ‘You know what, I really want to be a teacher because my teachers really made a difference in my life and I want to be able to do that for others,’ is because we don’t respect the profession,” Stuart said. “And I think many times, organizations like yours take away from what we view as the professionalism of teachers. It disrespects the degree that our education professionals are earning, and it kind of belittles the research that goes behind all of that.”
OK, but if you click here you’ll see a copy of Rep. Stuart’s 1998 resume, which was obtained via FOIA request.
Notice that Stuart earned a BA in Mathematics in May of 1991 and then from August of 1991 through May of 1993 she headed the middle school math program and taught several other classes at St. Paul Lutheran School in New Orleans. She did not earn her teacher certification in Math until May of 1993 - after she’d been teaching and running a math program for two years.
Also, if you click here and here you’ll see two job-seeking letters Stuart sent in 1998 to Edwardsville’s Assistant Superintendent of Personnel and the principal of Edwardsville High School dropping the name of her late father-in-law, who had retired as the district’s superintendent two years earlier.
Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of that. But it might possibly undercut her otherwise strong argument for teacher professionalism.