Onion point/counterpoint brings up great issues

This week, The Onion published a point/counterpoint series discussing Teach for America (without specifically citing TFA). For those of you who are not regular Onion readers, it’s basically a fake newspaper and usually very sarcastic – so, don’t take it too seriously. That all said, the series brings up some great issues that should  be discussed, both in support of and against TFA-type programs.

Point: My year volunteering as a teacher helped education a new generation of underpriviledged kids

Counterpoint: Can we please, just once, have a real teacher?

Bottom line: kids need good teachers. There aren’t enough good teachers (with traditional teaching certifications who want to work in low-income/high-need schools), so we need alternative programs like TFA.

Any new teacher has lots of room for improvement, and most teachers don’t hit their stride until they’re a few years in…. but, is a recent college grad who knows the content and received some (albeit intense) training in classroom management and instructional strategies any better than a recent graduate of a teacher ed program who doesn’t understand the content or classroom management? The answer is YES. Numerous rigorous research studies have shown that TFA-trained teachers are equally or more effective than more traditionally trained new teachers. So while this point/counterpoint is entertaining, and does bring up some important issues (i.e. the overall issue of quality teachers, especially in low-income/high-need schools & communities), the real question is: does it really matter where teachers trained? If they’re good teachers, they’re good teachers. (And, we sure need more of them.)




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