Monday, August 24, 2009

A shift lost in the shock

Wow – some harsh words for TFA from the NEA. It is amazing that after close to 20 years, they are still going after them. Right now the NEA is doing what any union is supposed to do – raise the specter of job losses and fight for member jobs. They have targeted TFA it is getting ugly.

There is support in the RTTBOC (Race to the Bags o’ Cash) otherwise known as Race to the Top for Alternative Teacher Certification. We are formulating our support during the comment period with some minor tweaks as are many of the other groups focused on improving teachers.

But here is what the NEA had to say by way of a critique:
NEA supports alternative routes to licensure, including high quality alternative certification programs. We know of many programs that do require evidence of excellence in the content area taught and have a carefully designed program of required course work in pedagogy and work with a mentor teacher.

In most alternative certification programs, however, the candidates are not fully certified for two years. And in one particular program, Teach for America, candidates are scheduled to leave teaching just as the two years are completed.

We agree that the Race to the Top programs should be focusing on the most challenging schools. And the research is clear that a highly qualified and stable workforce is necessary for true reforms to take hold. Experience, stability, content knowledge, access to induction and mentoring programs, and preparation for teaching diverse learners (cultural, linguistic and students with unique needs) will be key to the most qualified staff in high priority schools. Plans should be designed to attract and retain the best prepared, fire-tested, career individuals who plan to be there for the duration. Alternative certification candidates should be the last ones assigned to schools targeted for real reforms.

What will get lost in the scuffle with TFA is a pretty huge shift in policy for them. This is a pretty big compromise from NEA. In the past they would not allow anyone into teaching who had not gone through the Ed schools and they had to have had student teaching. This was their fight for years. So this statement is a pretty nice move to find common ground.

But that compromise will get lost in the shock to education reformers for their favorite program.

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