Archives › Teach For America

Feb 19 2013

Intercepted cryptic secret message to reformers

Though there was a recent article by Mike Petrilli about how people on Twitter generally only ‘follow’ people who they agree with, I try to follow a few ‘reformers’ to stay on top of what is going on.  So I follow Michelle Rhee, StudentsFirst, John White, and others.  I’ve only been blocked once, to my…

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Feb 14 2013

You might be a reformer if …

It has been a while since I caught up on some TFA ‘Pass The Chalk’ blog entries.  I read two interesting ones, one just published, and one published a few months ago that I must have missed. In “Who are the ‘So-Called Reformers’” staffer Heather Harding writes about how it is too bad that people…

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Feb 01 2013

The open letters series and responses

I’ve posted a link here that will take you to all eight open letters and two (so far) responses: click here to see them

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Jan 21 2013

When I was younger, so much younger than today

I came across, recently, as I’ve been scanning in some of the ‘clutter’ I’ve had in boxes in storage, the the cover letter and the two essays I wrote for my TFA application.  The deadline for applying to become a part of the second ever Teach For America cohort was in January of 1991.  As…

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Jan 05 2013

I Love The Smell Of Test Prep In The Morning

Teach For America recently launched a new initiative to recruit military veterans to become TFA teachers.  With the catchy slogan “You Served For America Now Teach For America,” this campaign has gotten attention in various news sources like The Huffington Post. Just the way college students do TFA as a way to do something ‘good’…

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Poor guy. Maybe because he was feeling like an inadequate new teacher, maybe because he didn’t “get the memo,” maybe because there wasn’t an all-night confessional open.  Whatever the reason, a KIPP teacher has snapped and ‘gone rogue’ publicly denouncing the ‘no excuses’ pillar of the reform movement. On a blog for Philadelphia teachers and…

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Dec 29 2012

The Silence Of The (Sacrificial) Lambs

Of the nearly 6,000 new TFA corps members who have just completed half of their first year of teaching, very few have posted on teachforus about how their first years are going.  I think I’ve seen about five or six midyear reflections so far.  As they say in old western movies, “It’s quiet out there.” …

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Dec 13 2012

Wendy Fails ‘The Giggle Test’

‘The Giggle Test’ is an expression coined in the late 1980′s.  As a lawyer contemplates whether or not to make a legal argument, he should avoid any argument that he won’t be able to make without immediately giggling afterwards.  A completely ridiculous argument, thus, ‘fails the giggle test.’ Teach For America was never intended to…

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Nov 16 2012

A Thug By Any Other Name

There was a pretty strong reaction, by some, to a comment I made in my last post about my visit to a KIPP high school.  In general, the post was called by a lot of people on Twitter ‘balanced’ and even GothamSchools summarized it (in a way I thought was a bit of a stretch)…

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Oct 31 2012

My Review of ‘Teaching In The Terrordome’

I love a great teaching memoir, and Heather Kirn, a TFA alum (Baltimore ’02), just published one called ‘Teaching In The Terrordome’ about her two years in a large high-poverty Baltimore High School.  For what this book was trying to accomplish, it did a great job.  Kirn skillfully conveys to the intended reader how difficult…

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In this post I’m going to write first about a mistake that a new TFAer in Minnesota made and then about a related, and even bigger mistake that I made during my fourth year.  His mistake is not one that I’m blaming on anybody, not him, and not TFA, but it is something that made…

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I’ve been writing about teaching for twenty years.  This blog post has a chronology of all the published writings, radio, and TV I’ve done.  With a recent publication, I realized that I was starting to lose track so I’d make a page with links like this which I can update in the future so there…

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Attention current TFA corps members: Three Teach For America alumnae need your help with some research!   My name is Marialena Rivera, and I am currently a PhD student at the University of California – Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education as well as a TFA alumna (NYC ’07). I am working as a graduate student…

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Sep 26 2012

“Poverty Should Not Matter. Ever.”

I saw, today, a post on Pass The Chalk by 2010 NYC TFAer Jarell Lee called ‘Poverty Should Not Matter.  Ever’.  Jarell is living proof that ‘poverty is not destiny’ as he grew up very poor, yet went on to Harvard and then to Teach For America.  He is thankful that his own teachers, particularly…

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The Chicago teacher strike is a huge moment in this modern education reform battle.  In recent years, particularly, teachers around the nation have been slandered, beaten down, displaced when their schools got shut down to make more space for charters, and fired.  It is fitting that the threat to public education, ironically called the ‘reform’…

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Sep 13 2012

What ‘value-added’ is and is not

Because of the Chicago teacher strike, more people than ever in this country are beginning to learn about some of the big issues in education reform.  The most important, in my estimation, is also, unfortunately, the trickiest to understand — that is, the use of standardized test scores in teacher evaluation. There are a lot…

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Sep 10 2012

I am not a bully

Let’s face it.  Teachforus.org is not the most happening place.  With 40,000 potential bloggers, all this site gets is an average of four or five posts a day.  I write most of the posts on this site and I get most of the hits.  This is too bad since there are a lot of great…

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Sep 10 2012

Strike One

From what I’m hearing, the Chicago Teachers will begin a strike tomorrow.  For those who haven’t been following the story, it starts a few years ago when Stand For Children ‘tricked’ the union into signing a contract that would make it ‘impossible’ to strike.  Jonah Edelman bragged about this trickery in Aspen last summer.  By…

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As the lights dimmed and the opening credits rolled during my preview of ‘Won’t Back Down,’ I got a little nervous.  Based on some of the commercials I had seen, I thought there was a chance that it was going to be a good ‘film.’  I do think that a good film could be made…

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Sep 04 2012

TFA-fication: Pass The Chalk roundup #3

There’s a slang term called ‘Disneyfication’ which describes when something has been ‘cleaned up’ to make it happier than it’s true nature.  The Disney version of the sometimes gruesome Grimm fairy tales in addition to their revisionist history of Pocahontas are examples. On Pass The Chalk, recently, they have started talking about some very complex…

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On the Democrats For Education Reform website last week they announced a letter by “a coalition of over 30 education reform organizations” (including Teach For America) in which they asked Duncan to hold teacher preparation programs ‘accountable’ — meaning that their funding and even existence should be based on the value-added scores of the teachers…

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The current ‘Room For Debate’ on The New York Times website is called ‘Is Teach For America Working?’  There were six debaters.  Two were negative, two were neutral, and two were positive. I was invited to submit to be one of the debaters, but mine was rejected since I was ‘outranked’ by a 1990 corps…

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One of the more disturbing posts I’ve seen recently on this site is one called ‘I CARE SO MUCH’  As some of the posts I’ve referred to recently have suddenly disappeared, here is the post: “Ms. Barnett, are you about to cry?” Yes, I was emotional yesterday. But no, it wasn’t because of management issues…

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Sep 03 2012

Is Bad Classroom Management Destiny?

My number one complaint about TFA for the past few years has been that the student teaching component of the institute is not long enough (12 to 18 days, one hour a day) with classes that are too small (often less than ten students).  It is not possible to learn how to manage a full…

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Aug 26 2012

Out of the mouths of babes

In the last few weeks I’ve noticed a rise in the ‘student voice’ around education and ed reform.  First I had read about StudentsFirst and a student chapter at Cornell, the alma mater of both Michelle Rhee and Randi Weingarten.  Then I heard about SFER, Students For Education Reform, which intentionally sounds a lot like…

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By a somewhat frustrated 1991 alum

Region
Houston
Grade
High School
Subject
Math

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