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Oppo dump!

Wednesday, Mar 13, 2019

* Hmm

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

42 Comments »
  1. - City Zen - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:23 am:

    ==But that is a significantly shorter training period than most teachers receive through traditional programs, which usually require five years of study…==

    (squints at 5 years of study)

    I took a general science class (physics) required for my non-education major. It was packed with education majors. Nothing learned from that class prepped anyone for anything in their respective careers.


  2. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:27 am:

    Teach for America has a problem with its “teachers” bailing out of the profession quickly, often after a year or two. These are typically well-intentioned people who discover teaching actual students is a lot harder than they were told it would be.


  3. - Father Ted - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:28 am:

    “But it might possibly undercut her otherwise strong argument for teacher professionalism.”

    Depends on how she frames it. She could flip it and position it as having seen both sides and wishing she’d received the training and development she got through professional certification.


  4. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:34 am:

    Does it undercut it? Or does it simply mean that her experiences have informed her views in a way that allowed her to learn first hand and thereby a better judge of the issue than others?


  5. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:35 am:

    This is a disappointing oppo dump.

    I hope TFA does a better job of preparing teachers than OR memos.

    Video of Stuart getting a math problem wrong would have been better.

    Reminds me of the “news” of AOC riding in an SUV.


  6. - SYSK - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:38 am:

    “Teach for America has a problem with its “teachers” bailing out of the profession quickly, often after a year or two. These are typically well-intentioned people who discover teaching actual students is a lot harder than they were told it would be.”

    - Not true, might have been the case when TFA first started. Currently TFA members teach on average for 5 years or more, while traditionally trained teachers teach on average for 2.7 years.


  7. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:39 am:

    ===But it might possibly undercut her otherwise strong argument for teacher professionalism.===

    You can’t be the example that disproves the rule.

    I come at this… we need quality educators. I want a measure by which educators have a point of reference to be deem qualified.

    That also means I may be shutting out quality folks due to a “test, certificate, or class” that will not change the quality of the teacher, person, or harm the students’ ability to learn subjects.

    If there can be better ways, maybe this “work around” here is an example of success?


  8. - SOIL M - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:40 am:

    Looks like we may have found a place for those cuts to start. Cut their funding out all together. This training is already provided in State supported Community Colleges. No need to pay this group to provide it.


  9. - BenFolds5 - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:40 am:

    No matter what, she can speak to both sides. The debate should be at the HS level at least should be about Online learning. A kid in Edwardsville can take AP anything online if we expand our offerings. If you are at New Trier or Stevenson, you get the live teacher. 20 years ago, we mocked and dis allowed any teacher that tried to get a raise from a Masters “online”. No University today exists without a robust Online Presence. This is one place teachers unions may interfere. You have a snow day and the day isn’t lost with digital education. 17 and 18 year olds can handle online courses. Again, if we are serious about shortages and budgets. You can’t really argue this.


  10. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:40 am:

    Sounds like rank hypocrisy to me. She’s attacking a distinguished and lauded program when she herself got into the teaching profession outside of the traditional channels.


  11. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:43 am:

    47th, you know things. Can you please compare the number of contact hours between a 7-week intensive and the classroom hours necessary for a teaching certificate for someone who has a bachelor’s degree in another subject?

    Let me be clear — I’m not saying the two are equivalent, because there is value in the “marination” time required by a conventional program. But I’m just wondering what the differences are between the two.


  12. - Annonin' - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:54 am:

    Good to see Dwight kay has not shrunk and blown away


  13. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 11:59 am:

    I’m not sure why you needed to label this as an oppo dump. Why are you trying to oppo dump on Stuart? Rep Stuart was a qualified teacher and so what that she had already been teaching before she got her certificate. Why are you trying to label her a hypocrite? Why say oppo dump. Are you in opposition to her holding TFA accountable? If so just say so. Why would you go to the trouble to FOIA her for her resume?


  14. - Last Bull Moose - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:07 pm:

    My nephew is teaching in Detroit after having an intensive training class. He and his students seem to be doing well. After so many years (I think 3), he gets a full teaching certificate.

    There certainly are teaching methods and tricks that can be taught. I do not believe it takes a year to learn enough to be effective.

    For the record, my personal teaching experience is in teaching finance to MBA students many years ago. I realize that today’s elementary and high school classes are different than my situation.


  15. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:13 pm:

    =(squints at 5 years of study)=

    I did the same. 4 years total is what it should take to come out with a degree in education at 15 hours per semester including student teaching.

    =- Not true, might have been the case when TFA first started. Currently TFA members teach on average for 5 years or more, while traditionally trained teachers teach on average for 2.7 years.=

    I am curious to know where you got your data from?

    As a rural school administrator I have hired 7 non traditional teachers in 16 years. One of them was a former Teach America person and did not make it. Right now I have three teachers that came out of the private sector to teach all three are in CTE/Tech ed. One has no teacher prep and is struggling mightily but is in an impossible to fill position. He has a college degree, the only other candidate had a high school diploma. In the CTE area they can get credit for ours in the field and do not have to obtain teacher training. One was an assembly worker that went back and completed an alternative licensure program through a university. She isn’t very good, but again replacing her is nearly impossible. One other teacher we hired does not have a teaching degree but is a natural at it. She is outstanding.

    The trick isn’t about learning the content, at least not at high school. Most people do that easily. The real challenge is dealing with high school kids. When there is no prep program that puts them in front of students it is a huge shock to the system when they face them for the first time. Believe it or not, kids just don’t learn because you tell them too. This is where most fail.

    =You can’t really argue this.=

    Right, only because you say so./snark


  16. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:16 pm:

    Soccermom, as an undergraduate at ISU majoring in liberal arts, I spent a year in the College of Education thinking maybe I could teach high school civics or social studies. I can’t recall how many hours of classroom observation I had to complete, but as I sat in the classroom day after day at U-High, one thing became increasingly clear to me: I no longer thought teaching was an easy fall-back plan. It’s very hard work.

    I can’t fully answer you question, but if you want more info, Google Dr. Julian Vazquez Hellig. His blog is a treasure trove of data and insight into the profession. He is not a fan of TFA.

    And here is a link to the problem of teachers who leave the profession after a few years and how it disproportionately impacts poor schools.

    https://mobile.edweek.org/c.jsp?cid=25919971&bcid=25919971&rssid=25919961&item=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.edweek.org%2Fv1%2Few%2F%3Fuuid%3DD69E59FC-EE09-11E0-BAAD-10B701ADD654


  17. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:18 pm:

    ===not sure why you needed to label this as an oppo dump===

    Oppo is always labeled as such on this website. Unlike most others, I don’t pretend to have found things like this myself when I haven’t.


  18. - BenFolds5 - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:24 pm:

    JS… We would agree more than disagree through conversation. The fact that things are SO hard certification wise is really the issue in this state. The fact that a physicist can’t teach Physics in a rural area without the long drawn out certification is insane. Have them take behavior management course, pass the written certification test and move on. For those that taught know there is good and bad in every profession. We don’t need to make the hurdle so high if someone has a passion. Again, this is more about the unions stopping the process. Just like the IASBO or IPA heads get TRS… Self interest.


  19. - SYSK - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:24 pm:

    JS Mill, I listened to TFA testify, that’s where those numbers came from. Would be nice if any of this actually focused on Data, Not only do TFA teachers, teach for a longer time, their student have better results than classicly trained teachers. TFA is not in rural Illinois, so I assume the former TFA person you mentioned was let go from their program for not meeting TFAs standards.

    Seems to me that if TFA has good results, which they do, the state should support them, or the teacher shortage will get worse.


  20. - Ashland Adam - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:28 pm:

    TFA - Teach for Awhile

    In the meantime, here are additional concerns with TFA:

    1. “Finders Fees’ of $2-5,000. payed to TFA National by school districts. Districts cannot afford this, especially when considering that most TFAs do not remain in the district beyond 2-3 years. Training and mentoring new school personnel into the culture of a school, especially after only 5 weeks of training, is an investment most schools and districts cannot afford. This is a time and money commitment when the educator will not stick around.

    2. Most TFA recruits are sent to high-poverty schools and districts. Sending poorly prepared, inexperienced novices to teach in these settings further aggravates the challenges minority students face.

    3. School Districts on contract with TFA are obligated to fill positions with a certain # of TFA recruits, even if the TFAs do not meet the staffing needs of the school or licensure requirements to fill positions. https://news.illinois.edu/view/6367/329469


  21. - Ashland Adam - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:29 pm:

    Oops - ‘paid,’ not ‘payed’


  22. - Big Jer - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:30 pm:

    ===squints at 5 years of study===

    One of the most highly touted education models in the world is Finland’s. The main reason is Finland’s teacher preparation is rigorous and demanding. Other than preschool most teachers in Finland are required to have a Masters degree.

    The reason is that a lot of more responsibility is given to teachers in Finland whereas in the US it is the government and administrators that tell teachers how to do their jobs.

    BTW in Finland, teaching is the most admired profession in opinion polls of high school graduates. Teaching is an honored profession in Finland unlike in the US which constantly devalues teachers.

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar_url?url=https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ931215.pdf&hl=en&sa=X&scisig=AAGBfm1VGz2MyFJRpvFO2zZ6zL8SBO8zQw&nossl=1&oi=scholarr


  23. - Big Jer - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:42 pm:

    ===Nothing learned from that class prepped anyone for anything in their respective careers.===

    So I take it you are in the college as job training and nothing else group??

    And just because you did not find the class useful does not mean other people did not.

    The class you mention probably was intended as a survey class and as an intro to science and was not intended as “career preparation” . Of all the science classes that would have some usefulness as a general ed requirement it is physics. Physics is everywhere in our society.

    Lastly one of the most popular classes in the MIT Online Open Courseware is the Physics classes. Not the survey class, but the actual serious physics class that requires a good math background to understand it. Why? From comments on the course people wanted to learn about how the world works.


  24. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:53 pm:

    City Zen - if everyone took a semester of Physics and one or two other sciences there might not be so many climate change doubters, anti-vaxxers, and even flat-earthers.


  25. - Honeybear - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 12:55 pm:

    Rich, Respectfully, I’m trying to understand why you did the dumping. It seems to me that other oppo dumps on your blog are coming from an outside source attacking another party like ILGOP going after JB, or the 150’s going after x. This posting has a link to an article describing the interaction then YOUR compiled opposition (oppo). I’m wondering why you are dumping the oppo. Did I misread? I read your post as asserting that Stuart is a hypocrite. I’m wondering why you are asserting that. What is the purpose of the dump? And obviously you don’t have to answer. This is your castle. I’m a guest here. It just seems out of left field. Is Stuart always asserting that she is someone she’s not and needs to be taken down a peg? Is Stuart unfairly treating a witness?
    I experience Katie Stuart as an amazing legislator and representative. She really has my back and done a lot to bring my concerns forward. She is incredibly responsive and accessible. I’d really take a bullet for her.
    That’s why I am just really confused as to why you would compile oppo on her as if she was your target and release it.
    Again, it’s your castle and you are king here.
    I hope you will respond to my honest question.


  26. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:02 pm:

    =so I assume the former TFA person you mentioned was let go from their program for not meeting TFAs standards.=

    Umm, nope. I would not have hired them if they were let go. They left the district they were teaching for and came to us with glowing references. They didn’t make it.


  27. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:04 pm:

    Most teachers in Finland are required to have a Master’s Degree? I believe it was just yesterday that some illuminated commentor stated that no one needs a Master’s Degree to be a better teacher. Gee, Finland apparently differs on that, as do, I’m sure other countries who value an educated population.


  28. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:08 pm:

    =so I assume the former TFA person you mentioned was let go from their program for not meeting TFAs standards.=

    Umm, nope. I would not have hired them if they were let go. They left the district they were teaching for and came to us with glowing references. They didn’t make it.

    =I listened to TFA testify, that’s where those numbers came from. Would be nice if any of this actually focused on Data, Not only do TFA teachers, teach for a longer time, their student have better results than classicly trained teachers.=

    So you base your facts on what was said with no sourced data? Ok, not an overly source to site for an absolute statement about TFA.

    This is interesting.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2015/04/30/study-new-teacher-attrition-is-lower-than-previously-thought/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d795ff3ce497


  29. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:12 pm:

    From the WaPo article:

    Teachers who entered the profession via an alternative certification program (such as Teach for America) were more likely to leave the profession than those who went through traditional training programs. In 2011-2012, for example, about 21 percent of teachers with alternative certification were not teaching anymore, compared with 16 percent of teachers with traditional training.


  30. - BenFolds5 - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:19 pm:

    21% to 16% with a tenth of the requirements makes the case against formalized training. Although, I would like to know what a more recent study shows post recession. Then again, the data is clear with the shortage. Why go into teaching?


  31. - SYSK - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:27 pm:

    JS Mill, couple of things
    1. Those numbers are from 2011, TFA has had dramatic changes since then.
    2. Those are nationwide numbers, not IL specific numbers
    3. Those include all alternative certification programs not just TFA
    4. It does mention the success rate of mentorship programs (like TFA) are and increase retention.

    I’m definitely not arguing TFA is perfect, its result are as good as traditional licensing and we have a major teacher shortage that is not goiong to fix itself.


  32. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:39 pm:

    ===Its result are as good as traditional licensing===

    As the citations linked to above indicate, this statement simply isn’t true.


  33. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:49 pm:

    What this is dancing around is the question of what makes a successful teacher. Surely, expertise in content taught is important but everyone can probably think of highly competent content specialists who would make terrible instructors.

    So there’s the human component which, no matter how many human development classes you take (and they are definitely important in the curriculum for a teacher), real life experience and exposure to the age group you’re teaching is critical.

    Oh, and then there’s the PR part of dealing with parents and the school events that are sponsored. Again, I can think of many highly competent subject matter folks who could not deal with this.

    So is teaching an art or science? Age old question but there is a definite personality/temperament component that goes along with subject competency.

    THere is also a huge learning curve in the first few years of teaching, adjusting to expectations of/for students, adjusting methods of teaching and evaluation.

    Not sure what TFA does but doesn’t sound like a crash course would result in expert teachers having taught for a few decades and still making adjustments for my students in their best interests.


  34. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 1:53 pm:

    47th, that article does not actually mention teaching success, so here is really CURRENT data which illustrates my point that they are as good as traditional licensed treachers:

    The U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse (WWC), a trusted source of scientific evidence on education programs, reviewed the quality of existing research on TFA’s impact on student outcomes and found seven studies that met rigorous design standards. Three of those studies are randomized controlled trial studies, known as “gold standard” studies in the academic world, completed by Mathematica Policy Research, an independent, nonpartisan organization that focuses on social policy research and improving public well-being. The results of these studies include:

    Pre-K through second grade students of TFA teachers (first- and second-year teachers) receive the equivalent of an additional 1.3 months in reading instruction in a year, compared to students of non-TFA teachers at the same school. Overall, elementary students of corps members grew in reading at least as much as other students.

    Average math scores of elementary students taught by TFA teachers were higher than students taught by non-TFA teachers in a 2004 Mathematica study, showing close to an extra month of instruction in TFA teachers’ classrooms.

    Sixth through 12th grade students of TFA teachers achieve 2.6 months or more per year of additional progress in math than those taught by non-TFA teachers at the same school.


  35. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 2:14 pm:

    =JS Mill, couple of things
    1. Those numbers are from 2011, TFA has had dramatic changes since then.
    2. Those are nationwide numbers, not IL specific numbers
    3. Those include all alternative certification programs not just TFA
    4. It does mention the success rate of mentorship programs (like TFA) are and increase retention.

    I’m definitely not arguing TFA is perfect, its result are as good as traditional licensing and we have a major teacher shortage that is not goiong to fix itself.=

    Not sure if you picked up on the fact that I read the article, but I did. That was the result of about 2 seconds of research to provide at least something citable versus what amounts to “a guy told me” (not our @A guy).

    You are welcome to find and share something more recent if you have it. Until then, being a rural school administrator I am all too familiar with the teacher shortage. The answer isn’t simply finding warm bodies and TFA doesn’t staff rural schools, but I have had a former TFA person work for me and, anecdotally, they stunk.

    Someone cited Finland and how they treat and grow teachers. Aside from the fact that Finland has less than half the population of Illinois, has very little poverty, is linguistically, ethnically, and socially the opposite of diverse (homogeneous) they do treat teachers well and their societal view makes a difference.


  36. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 2:18 pm:

    =so here is really CURRENT data which illustrates my point …… non-TFA teachers in a 2004 Mathematica study,=

    pretty current.

    maybe you have a link to the study you quote?


  37. - Ashland Adam - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 2:24 pm:

    To SYSK’s point above - “…we have a major teacher shortage that is not going to fix itself.”

    “We’re in a crisis!” seems a frequent response when education ‘reformers’ want to make changes to public ed.

    Yet earlier changes or ‘reforms’ are what appear to be exacerbating problems in schools, including the need for more teachers.

    Witness the obsession with testing. Finnish students are not subject to the barrage of testing that has become a money making industry in the US.

    In the US, testing now drives all of US education policy. Think of CPS. Testing leads to school closure or school ‘turn-arounds,’ (where all teachers must re-apply for their jobs) opening of charters, and the firing of experienced teachers, because those experienced teachers are responsible for why a student living in poverty, with all poverty’s attendant stresses, is not showing academic growth comparable to his/her peers in more affluent communities.

    Responding to the ‘crisis’ with policies that compound the ‘crisis’ is not the solution.

    BTW, the teachers you see striking are NOT striking solely because they’re having issues with their healthcare, retirement benefits and salaries, although they are. They’re also upset because of conditions in schools, and in the classroom. As teachers say “Our working conditions are the students’ learning conditions.”

    Teachers see that their schools and communities are not given the resources they need to be successful. On so many levels, students in our lowest income communities are being shortchanged.

    TFA novices who’re hired with the caveat that they need only commit two to three years, and then they can move on is not a solution to the need for teachers.

    TFA, btw, has scrubbed its recruitment site of language that recruits with the short term-commitment language.

    As others have stated - I’d be curious to see the research on TFA retention. I’ll bet CPS has it. And I’m sure they will not release it.


  38. - illinikid - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 2:26 pm:

    All of my experience with TFA is anecdotal but I know 3 TFA teachers. They graduated from UIUC with engineering or business degrees (one had both) and they were all minorities. They are teaching in primarily minority classrooms. The students adore them and reasahrch shows that students perform better in class if they “look” like the teacher. Do we have a better way of recruiting minority teachers like black men into the profession? What will dismantling a program like this do to cause a further shortage in of these teachers?

    If Your Teacher Looks Like You, You May Do Better In School- https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/09/29/552929074/if-your-teacher-looks-likes-you-you-may-do-better-in-school


  39. - Ashland Adam - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 3:05 pm:

    This WBEZ piece from several years ago documents the loss of minority teachers in CPS:
    https://educationpost.org/why-the-chicago-public-schools-are-losing-black-teachers/

    Thousands of minority teachers have lost their jobs since the advent of ’school reform.’ (Think Renaissance 2010, Rich Daley, Paul Vallas, Gery Chico, Arne Duncan, etc. and good riddance all).

    Wonderful if teachers remain in the profession, wherever they come from, TFA or a traditional program.

    Yes, students benefit with exposure to a diverse teaching staff. So its nice to hear that a previous post notes several TFA alums remain and are successful. Glad to hear that.

    As a policy however, with average finders fees of $3k to TFA from cash strapped districts, and having prepared them with a 5 week crash course…is this the best we can do?

    What’s driving teachers out of the profession? Why can’t we retain them?

    Those are the issues we need to address.


  40. - Deputy Registrar - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 5:02 pm:

    Is teaching an art or a science?
    Yes.
    (I’m a retired teacher.)


  41. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 5:13 pm:

    What’s driving teachers out of the profession? Does anyone really not know?


  42. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Mar 13, 19 @ 5:53 pm:

    Anonymous, two things: first, pick a nickname and stick with it so I know who is responding to me. Second, read this (and it’ it is too long for you, just peruse the executive summary.

    https://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/teach-for-america-return

    The principal author is a former TFA executive and noted education expert.


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